Tag: Jason Seats (Page 1 of 2)

Amos Schwartzfarb is the New Managing Director of Techstars Austin

imgres-1Techstars has hired Amos Schwartzfarb as its new managing director of Techstars Austin.

Schwartzfarb takes over from Jason Seats, who is still with Techstars and will remain in Austin. Seats is one of the managing partners of Techstars $150 million venture capital fund. He is dedicating all of his time to that role.

Schwartzfarb is no stranger to Techstars Austin. He has served as mentor to all three of the Techstar Austin classes. He has also founded several companies and has expertise in sales and business strategy in the software, digital, advertising and entertainment industries.

Previously Schwartzfarb served as head of customer development at Joust. Before that, he was vice president of customer development at BlackLocus, which was acquired by The Home Depot in 2012. He was co-founder and served as Chief Operating Officer of mySpoonful, which was acquired in 2011. Before that, he was an executive with Business.com, which was acquired by RH Donnelly in 2007. He also spent five years at HotJobs.com.

Schwartzfarb said it energizes him to work with startups and entrepreneurs.

“Founders have a deep belief that they can turn a really good idea into something that is a business,” Schwartzfarb said. They go through a thousand micro iterations before they get there, he said, but the key is getting people to believe, early on, that the vision is achievable.

And timing is really important, Schwartzfarb said. An idea can be really good but the market needs to be ready for it.

“When I first moved here – it’s only been eight years – but it seems like it’s been a long time – it’s an open community, people are nice and I wanted to be as much of a part of that as possible,” Schwartzfarb said. “That translates into this role. I get to actually help bring great companies to Austin to grow and become great businesses.”

That’s all possible under the Techstars brand, he said.

“My hope is that I’m able to take what Jason has done and add to it to continue to grow this community and continue to be on the forefront of the current startup community,” he said.

In the next few weeks, Techstars Austin will begin accepting applications for its next class, which will kick off in February. Schwartzfarb’s network stretches from coast to coast and he’s hoping to find some of the most exciting new companies to join the next class, he said.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of high quality companies come through,” he said. “We’re looking to continue to do great things in town.”

Schwartzfarb also answered a few questions via email to get to know him better in his new role as managing director of Techstars Austin.

Q1. Why did you move to Austin?

A. In 2007 I was living in LA and had been traveling to Austin for business since 2000. My wife and I were looking to leave LA before starting a family. We visited several cities all over the country and then came to Austin for a long weekend. It took us under 24 hours to realize this would be our new home. There were several draws to Austin at that time. The biggest two were the, then up-and-coming, start-up scene and how incredibly family friendly Austin seemed (coming from LA). My wife and I also love the outdoors and live music and, of course, Austin has an abundance of both.

Q2. What is your favorite thing about the city?

A. There are so many things I love about Austin. My “ favorite thing” has changed from time to time since I first moved here and currently it’s the people. There seems to be this persistent high-energy theme of “ let’s continue to push limits and kick-butt” that everyone has. Whether you are in the start-up world, or a musician, a foodie or a cyclist, everyone here has a ton of passion, focus and dedication for the things they love. It seems like everyone I meet wants to take an active role in Austin’s future through their passions. There is a real vibrancy in Austin and it’s infectious! That is why we keep seeing Austin show up on all the “best of” lists and why I think we will continue to see Austin flourish for many, many years to come.

Q3. Why did you take the job as director of Techstars in Austin?

A. I love working with early stage companies and helping them reach their full potential. For this reason, when Techstars launched in Austin I became a pretty active mentor. Over the past two years I have become increasingly impressed with the Techstars organization overall. When I was approached about the role it was a very easy decision in that I would have the opportunity to work with such a great company, doing what I loved while also contributing to the future growth of Austin!

Q4. Why is Techstars important to Austin?

A. Austin has an amazing start-up scene that continues to grow. Techstars plays an important role in that as a local accelerator we are also part of the global Techstars ecosystem. We have a very strong network that enables us to provide deep support and unique opportunities to our companies which ultimately contribute to Austin’s future growth.

Q5. What are you looking for in the next Techstars Austin class?

A. Obviously I’m looking for ideas with big potential but beyond that I’m looking for solid teams that are genuine, passionate and honest with themselves. I don’t have a bias towards a specific sector but the concept has to resonate with me. I want to feel like, “yeah, that needs to exist” and then believe this is the team that can make it happen.

Q6. Do you have any advice or tips on how to get into Techstars Austin?

A. Get your application in early. Make yourself stand-out. And tell a really good story. If you know someone associated with Techstars in any city have them endorse you. At the end of the day you need a good idea and solid team.

Q7. What is your favorite coffee house in Austin?

A. Mellow Johnny’s/Juan Pelota. Great coffee and I get to stare at bikes between thoughts.

Q8. What do you like to do when you’re not working?

A. When I’m not working I keep it pretty simple. I spend a lot of time with my family biking, hiking and climbing. My wife and daughters are all high energy and I just do what I can to keep up! I also spend some time biking with friends and I try to catch some live music whenever I can. I know this seems pretty par for the course in Austin and it definitely runs true in our house.

Bob Metcalfe Tells Startups to Build Their Networks to Succeed

photoBob Metcalfe, professor of Innovation at the University of Texas, spent some time talking with Jason Seats, managing director of Techstars, during a virtual fireside chat at Foundercon in Austin recently.

Metcalfe has held many careers including educator, publisher and columnist, venture capitalist, inventor of Ethernet and founder of 3Com. He has spent the past three years in Austin at UT and has pledged to make this area a “better Silicon Valley.” He works closely with startups as one of the instructors at the Longhorn Startup program at UT, which teaches undergraduates how to form and run a startup successfully.

In this Techstars video, Metcalfe tells the Techstars founders and staff “You are my favorite people. You are entrepreneurs.”

His advice to startup entrepreneurs is to build their networks to cultivate the success of their startups.

“Building your networks is the most important thing you can do to ensuring the success of your company, your customer networks, your networks of possible employees, your supply networks, your investor networks” Metcalfe said.

“One of the mistakes you can make is to not grok what it means to build a network,” Metcalfe said.

The important thing is that a rolodex must contain trusted sources, Metcalfe said. Entrepreneurs’ networks must be built by exchanging value with those people, he said.

“The first thing that can happen to a network is that you fail to build one,” Metcalfe said.

“The second thing that can go wrong is that your network can be junk,” Metcalfe said. “Some correlation of Metcalfe’s law is that a junky network isn’t worth shit.”

Build your networks and take care of the people in them, he said.

The Largest FounderCon Ever is Being Held in Austin This Week

Brad Feld, co-founder of Techstars with Jason Seats, managing director of Techstars Austin, photo by Laura Lo

Brad Feld, co-founder of Techstars with Jason Seats, managing director of Techstars Austin, photo by Laura Lo

A sea of green shirts will be seen around Austin this week.

First off, Techstars Austin held its Demo Day featuring 11 companies pitching their ventures at the Austin Music Hall on Wednesday.

Now, Techstars FounderCon is underway, which is the annual gathering of Techstars alumni companies from around the world. This is the largest Foundercon ever, said Jason Seats, managing director of Techstars Austin.

This week, 354 founders, 179 Techstars companies and 60 Techstars staff including three of its founders, Brad Feld, David Cohen and David Brown, will meet today and Friday. The meetings, which are closed to press and the public, feature a series of talks and discussions including a fireside chat with Seats interviewing Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at UT, inventor of Ethernet and co-founder of 3Com.

Techstars is hosting a party tonight at Mohawk starting at 7 p.m. and a special Austin Open Coffee meetup at Capital Factory beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday.

Techstars Startup Cloud 66 Plans to Move to Austin Permanently

Khash Sajadi, CEO of Cloud 66, a Techstars company in Austin, photo by Laura Lorek

Khash Sajadi, CEO of Cloud 66, a Techstars company in Austin, photo by Laura Lorek

Cloud 66 moved to Austin from London two months ago to participate in Techstars and the startup plans to stay here.

For its business, the U.S. is the best place to be, said Khash Sajadi, CEO and co-founder of Cloud 66.

Cloud 66 is one of 11 companies in the latest Techstars program in Austin. All of the companies will pitch their companies Wednesday afternoon during Techstars Demo Day at the Austin Music Hall. This year, several of the startups plan to stay in Austin after the program ends Wednesday.

They’ve got financial incentives to stay too.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the Techstars Austin class has accomplished this summer and Rony Kahan and I have committed a total of $20,000 investment for each of them that decides to stay in Austin,” Joshua Baer, founder of Capital Factory, wrote in his weekly Austin Startup Digest.

“When it comes to cloud computing, Austin is particularly important,” he said. “There are a lot of enterprises and cloud infrastructure players around here like Rackspace in San Antonio and Dell in Austin.”

Cloud 66 has seven employees and four moved to Austin.

The company, founded in 2013, helps software developers build and manage the software that powers their business. It provides IT services as a service.

“This is the engine that powers the business,” said Sajadi.

The company provides technology infrastructure for small to medium-sized software as a service companies. Cloud 66 serves 5,000 software developers in 700 companies globally. Its customers include the BBC, CareerBuilder.com, Adobe, Bugheard and Web Summit. Its competitors include Heroku, a cloud application platform.

The company has raised $730,000 including a $120,000 investment from the Techstars program.

One of the biggest benefits of participating in Techstars Austin program is being able to work with Jason Seats, the program’s managing director, because Seats comes from a cloud background, Sajadi said. Seats, co-founded Slicehost, which he later sold to Rackspace and then headed up its cloud computing operations. Seats is an investor in Cloud 66.

Techstars Austin’s Jason Seats on Startup Grind San Antonio

Jason Seats, managing director of TechStars Austin

Jason Seats, managing director of Techstars Austin

Jason Seats loved playing with Lego blocks as a kid and even did college projects with Legos as a young adult.
His heroes were Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman growing up and the fictional Indiana Jones. At the age of eight, he thought he wanted to be an archaeologist.
But even as a little kid he dreamed of running his own business, which he would call Seats Enterprises.
He grew up in St. Louis. His older sister is a nurse and his younger brother is getting his Phd in physics at Stanford.
He graduated in 2001 from St. Louis University with two degrees.
In 2006, he co-founded Slicehost, an early cloud hosting company, with Matt Tanase, a college friend. Two years later, they sold it to Rackspace for millions.
Seats served as managing director of Techstars Cloud at Geekdom in San Antonio for two years. He moved to Austin earlier this year to head up the inaugural Techstars Austin class.

Seven Teams Presented at 3 Day Startup Austin

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

20131020_205208Three Day Startup began in 2008 as a project of some University of Texas graduate students who thought entrepreneurship, like many other areas of study, really ought to have a lab where students could make experiments and—if necessary—blow things up as part of the learning process.
Since then it has evolved to 73 programs at 30 universities in the U.S., Israel, Chile, Thailand, Spain, the Netherlands, Columbia and more.
Seven teams, plus one dummy team, presented Sunday night at the Austin Technology Incubator after working on their projects since Friday night, often staying up until 4 a.m. and being sent out to get at least six hours of market validation. They presented before an audience and a panel comprised of Jason Seats of Techstars, Josh Kerr of Written, Jeff McMahon of Open Labs and Fred Schmidt of Capital Factory and Portalarium.


Biquity is investment banking using bitcoin, an unregulated online currency. The practice is illegal in the U.S., but is being used in several Latin American companies where there’s restricted access to equity financing. Biquity would work as a kind of transaction validation escrow service between a company auctioning shares and a company or individual buying shares. Because there are no foreign capital controls on bitcoin, the transaction would not be subject to limits or federal or bank-driven fees
The problem, as Seats pointed out, is that while the lack of oversight means lower transaction costs it also means there’s no oversight to protect parties. The remedy for that is that bitcoin now has futures contracts connected to local currency to ensure that the price agreed upon stays consistent relative to other types of currency. Once the transaction is made it may be easy to convert the bitcoin into local currency that is protected.

Snip Book

Snip Book is an app for hair stylists to capture information about their customers, cataloguing images of haircuts or dye jobs they’ve given, with the specific angle of the cut or the color of dye so that if customers come back asking for the same cut or color they had before, the stylist can easily call up the information. The team’s presenter said 90 percent of the 1.6 million stylists in the U.S. rely on repeat customers for their business’s survival, so being able to recall a cut one gave a client several months ago is important. The original model would be subscription based for about $20 a month with add-on services such as client scheduling. The app could be scaled horizontally to be used at nail salons, tattoo parlors, etc.
The problem, the panel pointed out, was that a lot of this could be done on Evernote. But, Snip Book would also push the hairstyles to social media, such as Facebook, and enhance marketing.


Alza is an app designed to help users avoid losing time in distractions like getting lost for hours on Facebook or oversleeping. Alza collects data from users’ calendars, social media, and other apps, and sends you notification if it sees users playing candy crush instead of studying for the test or presentation they have to give tomorrow.
With other apps and computer tools, people have to manually track their time, pressing a start and stop button. But with Alza, it’s all done automatically. The team planned to do a monthly subscription and also work with organizations like Groupon. If someone has a productive week, they get extra discounts on restaurants and entertainment.
Fred Schmidt asked if this would help him if he was wasting time at the golf course and one team member said it would use his phone’s GPS system to see whether he was where he should be during that time.
Another problem was that iOS sandboxes apps, preventing the app from seeing whether or not a customer is wasting time on another app. But the worst liability was that audience members said they would turn the app off after one session of nagging. A lot of people don’t want to waste time but they don’t want their phones telling them what to do, either.
Parents might buy it though.


EventApps.com is an app for small to medium sized conference and event planners. The simple, module-based app lets users plan and promote events without investing a lot of time in creating a short-lived app or a lot of money—though the price point was $100 for an event with fewer than 200 attendees and $1,000 for events with more than 200.

Sally Stone with Match Setter

Sally Stone pitching Match Setter

Schmidt pointed out that during the recent Captivate conference, rooms changed frequently depending on the number of actual attendees for each session as well as the noise level in the exhibition hall. The ability to do live updates is crucial for events. That would require a cloud based system
The panelists also questioned the jump from $100 to $1,000.

Match Setter

Match Setter is an app for tennis players to find pickup games in their geographic area with other players who have roughly the same skill level. Presenter Sally Stone said many players can’t find games when they have the time to play them or if they do their opponents aren’t as good a player as they claim. Match Setter not only lets people rate their own playing but allows others who have played them to rate them as well. It creates a community of tennis players and also allows players to plan games around what skill sets they want to improve on.
The team planned to monetize Match Setter with a subscription, but the panel recommended having sponsors, such as tennis ball manufacturers, instead. Having the app free to users would create critical mass necessary to find other funding models.

Looksy TV

Looksy TV uses small cameras to collect analytics on crowds in restaurants, bars and other establishments that enable venues to gather useful data on their traffic and also let prospective users check in on whether a particular restaurant is too crowded, empty or otherwise lacking ambiance the customer is looking for.
Similar to Scene Tap in its function, the application differs in that, instead of identifying approximate ages and genders of patrons it uses a cartoon filter to obscure the faces and identities. It only allows a user to see a 30-second window into a particular establishment, locking the person out for 15-20 minutes after that glimpse to prevent stalking.

Chiron Health

Andrew O’Hara with Chiron Health

Andrew O’Hara with Chiron Health

Chiron Health is a secure, web-based application that allows doctors and psychiatrists to visit with patients online. The ultimate goal would be to provide better medical care in rural areas where doctors are in short supply. Though presenter Andrew O’Hara, who is completing his masters in medical infomatics, acknowledged that early adopters were more likely to be urban dwellers such as executives who prefer to take a 15-minute visit via internet rather than expend the time to actually go to the doctor’s office.
The company would charge a fee for the service, taking its cut after the doctor gets paid. More than 20 states require insurance to pay for medical telechats the same way they would pay for in-person visits, O’Hara said, and more states are coming on board.
The panel asked whether the platform was defensible when huge medical conglomerates could take over the market at a moment’s notice. O’Hara said Chiron sees the opportunity to partner with other healthcare technology companies in the next several years to help launch the product.

The final presentation brought three men to the stage…one a typically scruffy startup guy and the other two ridiculously pretty, ripped men in recently ironed clothing proposing a Craigslist-style site for musicians to purchase supplies. Music Matrix was a piece of Moth to Flame Productions’ movie about the startup world Funemployment.

TechStars Expands to Austin

Techstars-logo-1TechStars, a Boulder, Co.-based technology accelerator, is expanding to Austin with a new program that will start in August.
“Forbes and Bloomberg have been calling Austin the No. 1 Boomtown and the best place for your startup for years now, and Google recently chose it as the second city to receive the fastest Internet on the planet,” David Cohen, founder of TechStars, wrote in this blog post. “TechStars exists to put the best mentors and the best entrepreneurs together in the best startup communities so Austin is a natural next stop for us.”
Applications open today and Jason Seats, who has served as managing director of the TechStars Cloud program for the past two years, is moving from San Antonio to Austin to run the new program. Seats co-founded Slicehost, a cloud computing business which Rackspace acquired in 2008. He is also an active angel investor. He has run two TechStars Cloud programs, graduating a total of 24 companies in San Antonio.
“I’ll be heavily involved in the future cloud programs but we are in the process of selecting someone else to manage the day to day operations,” Seats said. “This is great for TechStars because with a program running in Austin in the fall and the cloud program continuing to run in San Antonio in the spring, we’ll have basically year round activity for TechStars.”
Seats hopes and expects that the two programs will continue to strength the relationship and opportunities for collaboration in the technology industry between Austin and San Antonio.
The TechStars program will be housed at Capital Factory, a technology accelerator and incubator in downtown Austin. The TechStars Cloud program takes place every January at Geekdom, a technology accelerator and coworking site in downtown San Antonio.
“As I mentioned at the RISE panel, we think it’s a pretty natural progression when it’s not uncommon to hear the word “Geekdom” at Capital Factory in downtown Austin,” Seats said.
TechStars offers programs in Boston, Boulder, Chicago, New York City, Seattle, London and a specialized “Cloud TechStars” in San Antonio.
The TechStars program invests $118,000 in each company accepted into its program through $18,000 in seed funding and an optional $100,000 convertible debt note. More than 75 venture capital firms and angel investors back the program. The program last three months and provides mentorship and other perks and the chance to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists at the end. Its companies average $1.6 million in additional financing upon leaving the program.
The deadline to apply for the TechStars Austin program is June 30th.
The TechStars Austin program kicks off August 5th and runs through November 1st.
“We have received enthusiastic support from the local tech groups in Austin and there are already many fantastic mentors and investors involved including Brett Hurt (Bazaarvoice), Tom Ball and Mike Dodd (Austin Ventures), Sam Decker (Mass Relevance), Jeff Dachis (Dachis Group), Kip McClanahan and Morgan Flager (Silverton), Josh Baer and Bill Boebel (Capital Factory), Ned Hill and Aziz Gilani (Mercury Fund), Rony Kahan (Indeed), Rob Taylor (Black Locus) Lori Knowlton (HomeAway), and many more,” according to Cohen.

Ziptask Makes Managing Outsourced Projects Easier

images-1Ziptask seeks to make managing outsourced projects simpler.
The Anaheim, Calif.-based company launched its fully managed outsourcing platform on Wednesday.
The company provides a layer on top of services like Freelancer.com, Elance, 99Designs and others that makes managing outsourced projects easier.
Ziptask is a member of the TechStars Cloud Class of 2013. Its team will be presenting their company Thursday at the TechStars Cloud Demo Day at the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre in downtown San Antonio. The company has spent the past three and a half months participating in the TechStars Cloud accelerator.
Ziptask’s product is aimed at small to medium sized businesses.
Ziptask’s project managers act as liaisons to freelancers. Those project managers do all the hiring, communications and everything else involved in managing a project.
To cut down on fraud or low quality work, Ziptask’s project managers pre-screen, interview and hire the freelancers and then oversee all of the work until the project is delivered to the customer.
“This saves significant time and resources on any project, and ensures that every job is completed on time, to the customer’s expectations, and within a pre-approved budget,” according to Ziptask.
Common projects include WordPress, IT, Application and Software Development, eCommerce, and Graphic Design
“Ziptask created a platform for fully-managed outsourcing for the same reasons managed hosting was introduced to the server hosting business. High touch, customer-focused, satisfaction-oriented project work will be the next revolution in the outsourcing business,” said Jason Seats, Managing Director of TechStars Cloud.

About a week ago, Laura Lorek, founder of Silicon Hills News, interviewed Shawn Livermore, Stan Miroshnik and Matt Lee about Ziptask.

TechStars’ Cloudability Closes on $8.7 million in Venture Capital

In the first TechStars class held at the Geekdom earlier this year, Cloudability already had a head start on some of the other companies.
The Portland-based startup had already participated in the Portland Incubator Experiment. When the team landed in San Antonio, they had already raised $1.1 million, according to VentureBeat.
Now Mat Ellis, Cloudability’s CEO, has announced the company has raised an $8.7 million first round of venture capital led by Foundry. In addition, Jason Mendelson and Jason Seats, managing director of the TechStars Cloud, will join its board of directors.
“Just over a year ago we were on stage at Structure with some screen shots and just a few users, so this is a really big deal for us,” Ellis wrote in a company blog post on the deal.
“Today over 3,000 people in 100 countries are using Cloudability. Collectively they have spent over $100 million on cloud services, and added over 10,000 cloud accounts,” according to Ellis. “If ever there was an advert for the power of the cloud, this is it. Three guys have an idea, and one year later that idea is being used across the planet.”
Cloudability helps companies manage how much they spend on Cloud services. Rackspace Hostings offers the service to all of its cloud customers. The company plans to use the money it has raised to hire more people and build out its product offering by adding more features. Cloudability has 15 employees, up from four in December.
The only downside to the funding? Ellis can’t get this tune out of his head:

Successful Entrepreneur Jason Seats Now Helps Startups

Jason Seats, managing director of TechStars Cloud and cofounder of Slicehost

To find out about high-tech startups in San Antonio, talk to Jason Seats.
He’s not only the managing director of the TechStars Cloud program at Geekdom, a collaboration and coworking space downtown, but he’s been there done that and has plenty of T-shirts to prove it.
In 2006, Seats, cofounded Slicehost with his college friend Matt Tanase and two years later sold it to Rackspace for millions. The exact price of the acquisition was not disclosed.
But Rackspace did report paying $11.5 million in cash and stock for Slicehost and JungleDisk and up to $16.5 million more based on performance goals.

Here’s a video of Robert Scoble (at the time a reporter with Fast Company Magazine. He now covers startups for Rackspace) interviewing Seats and Tanase about the acquisition, which took place on Oct. 22, 2008. The acquisition allowed Rackspace to compete more effectively with Microsoft and Amazon in the cloud computing business.

The life of an entrepreneur is a risky one.
Some people prefer the security of a desk job with a corporation while others risk everything to create something from nothing.
Life is about making active and passive choices, according to Seats.
He graduated in 2001 from St. Louis University with two degrees in computer science and engineering. He got a job at a startup right out of college.
“It was a rough time to graduate,” Seats said. The Dot Com collapse had just occurred and the job with the startup didn’t work out. So he took a secure job with St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis and he stayed there for five years. He wrote software programs for the hospital.
“If I could stay there five years I could have done it for 15 years,” Seats said. “A lot of the people I worked with are still there sitting in the same chairs.”
But Seats was bored and restless. He took an MIT online course on open projects. One day, he read an article on “How to Love the Job You’re In” and he realized that he needed to make a change.
“I was rationalizing what I was doing there,” Seats said.
He started looking at his options and ended up taking a job with CPI Corp., the company that ran Sears Portrait Studios. He worked on creating a video software compression program for them.
“That broke me out of my rut,” Seats said.
Around that time, his buddy, Matt had started Slicehost, a web hosting company in 2006. He had already invested $10,000 in the business. Seats matched that and they became partners. But Seats didn’t quit his day job. He spent nights and weekends working at Slicehost and his days at his CPI job. They spent three months building the core product. The idea was to buy a server and virtually divide it into smaller pieces and sell “slices” to customers. They bought three initial servers. Then they put up a Website, explained the offering and opened up a chat room. They turned the system on and the first customer walked through the virtual door. Web hosting started at $40 and rose from there depending on the amount of server capacity required.
Seats planned to quit his day job at CPI within two years of starting up Slicehost. Instead, he quit two months later. By then, they had two dozen servers running, a waiting list of customers wanting to buy the service and they never advertised.
“It became clear that things were going to happen faster than we expected,” Seats said.
Seats and Tanase had one client on retainer for a development job that helped finance Slicehost. They bootstrapped the company and poured all the revenue back into buying more servers.
By the fall of 2007, Slicehost hired its first employees: one programmer and one community support person.
“We had a big open community,” Seats said. “If one of our members had a problem they could go out to the community. Our support costs were very, very low. People felt good about the support we gave. And our customers worked for us.”
To maintain that community, Seats and Tanase put up a blog post with job postings and hired the first two people who applied for the programmer and community support jobs.
“It was a totally organic move to bring them in.” Seats said.
Paul Tomes in the United Kingdom got the community support job. He’s still with Rackspace today, Seats said.
By the end of the second year, Slicehost had eight employees and 15,000 customers with 55 percent of them in the United States and the others coming from 170 countries.
“We never did any advertising,” Seats said.
Slicehost grew organically through word of mouth marketing by its customers.
“We spread in the circles that made sense,” Seats. “We never had an active sales force. We never talked about sales. We talked about support all the time.”
All of the Slicehost employees spent time in the chat rooms dealing with support, Seats said.
“We were always looking for ways to solve root problems,” he said.
In July of 2008, Lew Moorman, now president of Rackspace, opened up a support ticket with Slicehost and that started the courtship that would end up with Rackspace acquiring the company. From that first e-mail, it only took a week for the first acquisition offer, Seats said.
The guys at 37Signals did this great 30 minute four-part video interview with Tanase and Seats that recounts the full version of the Slicehost story from founding to acquisition.
As a condition of the acquisition, Seats moved to San Antonio to join Rackspace. He bought a house in December of 2008. He worked at Rackspace until June of 2010. He considered the idea of going back to school to get his Phd in Physics. But instead he started volunteering as a mentor with 3 Day Startup San Antonio. He liked working with entrepreneurs.
In the fall of 2011, Graham Weston, chairman of Rackspace, and Pat Condon, co-founder of Rackspace, approached him about heading up the new TechStar Cloud program in San Antonio. He met with Nicole Glaros and Dave Cohen with TechStars and they offered Seats the job.
“Working with Jason has been pure joy,” Glaros said. “He did a wonderful job. It’s going to be really cool watching him develop the program further.”
TechStars Cloud had its first class of 11 companies graduate last April. Seats still talks with the companies weekly. And they think very highly of him.
“Not only is Jason technically competent but he’s very insightful,” said Matt Gershoff with Conductrics, one of the TechStar Cloud companies.
Seats is tremendously loyal and speaks plainly and truthfully, Gershoff said.
“Everyone respects him,” he said. “He’s an amazing guy.”
Colin Loretz with Cloudsnap, another TechStars Cloud company, already knew who Seats was before joining the program.
“It was cool to meet him and realize he was the kind of guy who will go out of his way to help you out and help you succeed.”
Seats was the “best mentor I could ever hope for,” Loretz said.

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