Forging the TechStars Cloud companies
March 31, 2012 by 1 Comment
“Jokes are only good if they land,” Seats said at the end of one pitch.
“I was totally wrapped up in the story, which was great,” said Glaros in response to another pitch.
“I want to see more interactions with data and the service,” said Seats.
“It was just a little too dragged out,” Glaros said. “I want you to move through it faster.”
“Maybe you need less of those slides,” Seats said.
The goal is by April 11, the TechStars Demo Day at the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre in downtown San Antonio, that the 11 companies rate at least an eight on a presentation scale that ranges from one to ten. At this session, almost three weeks from Demo Day, most of the companies rank at seven or lower. (Seats takes away a point from those presenters still using notes and almost all of the presenters are still reading from note cards.)
Since January, this group of startup entrepreneurs have gathered at the Geekdom, a collaborative workspace on the 11th floor of the Weston Centre. All of them relocated here from outside Texas. They came from Portland, Madison, Wisconsin, New York, Boston and other cities. They rented houses and apartments downtown. San Antonio Developers Ed Cross and David Adelman helped them secure housing, Seats said.
Most of the names of the companies are embargoed until Demo Day. But Cloudability, a Portland-based company, has already publicly posted about its involvement in the program. The company, which launched in November of 2011, has created a software platform that allows companies to track their cloud spending online. The company’s software draws from hosting companies’ data. It has more than 1,000 companies from 72 countries signed up to manage nearly $52 million in cloud spending. Cloudability has 10 employees and has already raised $1.2 million in a seed round of funding.
Mat Ellis, the company’s founder, has written about his TechStars incubator experiences on his company’s blog. Cloudability also participated in the Portland Incubator Experiment’s inaugural class.
Cloudability is one of the more mature startups involved in the TechStars Cloud program. Some of the companies are just starting out.
“It’s been a good program,” said Seats, during a recent interview at his office. “I feel like everyone has gotten a lot of value out of it.”
The TechStars program has had its ups and downs. Some people left the program. Other startups completely revamped their companies. But that’s Ok, Seats said.
In fact, the first phase of the program focused on the TechStar members’ ideas and setting up a foundation for their businesses. The TechStars’ 170 mentors hammered the entrepreneurs with questions and poked holes in their business plans.
“You either crumble or adapt,” Seats said. “Good ideas respond positively to that kind of pummeling.”
Seats compared the process to forging metal.
“The first month is about applying enough beatings to see if this is the right direction,” Seats said. “What’s working or what’s not working?”
During the second phase, the companies did mentor “dating” to match up with the right mentors for their business. In the end, each team got between three to six lead mentors, Seats said.
The last phase of the program is all about execution, Seats said. The TechStar Cloud companies spend countless hours programming, working on business fundamentals, marketing and more. They often work until late into the night and on the weekends.
But the TechStar Cloud startup founders have also had some fun. They all went to South by Southwest in Austin in March. They also regularly go to local bars, restaurants and museums together.
But in the final weeks of the program, everyone is focused on nailing their presentation pitches and running their businesses.
“For the majority of these companies, this is their shot,” Seats said.