Joining Techstars (Part 1 — Why We Wanted to Join)
We meant to do this weeks ago, but things happen, a blog entry keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the to-do list (I’ll take full blame), and here we are 6 weeks into the program… We’d like to announce thatStateless is excited to be joining Techstars, Boulder.
We’ll leave our experiences in the program so far to a near future post. Here, we want to write about what led to us joining.
Our process starts at the University. Murad competed in the New Venture Challenge at the University of Colorado, and ultimately won the Techstars award. They were a sponsor, and the judges determined we had cool tech and a team that would be a great fit for Techstars. While we had some indirect connections to the program (being in Boulder already), that was really what got us on their radar. After that, it was several months of various discussions with them, and little updates — in-person meetings, email exchanges, google hangouts, etc. with Natty Zola and Julie Penner, the managing directors of the Boulder program. We then officially applied, went through some additional technical vetting with some friends of the program who work in our space, and then gave a short pitch to a room full of Techstars people. Shortly after that, we were notified of our acceptance into the program — there were a few things they needed from us, but we were all in at that point.
So, why did we want to join?There were three main things that stood out to us.
Management Support. Its no secret that our management team is not the most experienced team. Between Murad and Eric, we have incredible technical depth, and while there are many overlaps between systems research (which we’ll discuss in a future post) and entrepreneurship, we hadn’t led a successful company. The support we’d receive from Techstars was seen as a main motivator.
Brand Recognition / Validation.Being a Techstars company brings instant credibility. As a university spin-off, we get the questions about whether this is a real company or not, and with a less experienced management team we get the questions about whether we can run a company, and with a hard to understand technology we get the questions of what the value of the technology is. We fully believed we could overcome all of that, but being in Techstars would greatly help… instantly. Now, those questions would still remain if we joined Techstars, but we would have the fact that they put their faith in us as a team, and are providing the support we’ll need — we’d no longer be on our own.
Financial.We had raised some angel funding prior to applying to Techstars, but to really hire the development team we wanted, and generally take the company to the next level, the additional investment available from Techstars was seen as a real benefit.
Of course, there were concerns. Not everybody we talked to was as positive about Techstars as we were. We heard people question the value and scoff at giving them equity — asking why would we give away part of our company… do we really need them? We listened and were polite, but ultimately completely disagreed. Every situation is different, so perhaps Techstars isn’t a great deal for everyone, but we saw the value for us. Another concern was balancing our family life. We each have children, and while we were prepared to make sacrifices, we did not want to abandon our families. Being in Boulder, we didn’t have to move away from them, and we had long decided that our company culture embraces work-life balance and the importance of family. So, we trusted that was something we’d be able to figure out.
In short, we’re excited to be a part of the Techstars family now.