VCs and Founders Give Advice on Funding a Startup

Founder of Silicon Hills News

BWJolG9CMAA9hCnFunded companies, which are performing well, get nice offices and free lunches for their employees, said Mike Dodd, partner with Austin Ventures.
Mass Relevance is one of its portfolio companies performing quite well. And on Wednesday, the company hosted a panel discussion about successfully raising capital for a startup company as part of Austin Startup Week.
The two-year-old company has grown from four employees to more than 120 employees and raised $5.5 million in a Series A round of funding and it already has millions in revenue from customers like NBC, MTV Networks and CNN. Its partners include Facebook and Twitter. Mass Relevance, formerly known as TweetRiver, aggregates social media content for its customers.
Claire England, executive director of RISE Austin, moderated the discussion, which paired two successful startup Co-founders with their lead investors. Eric Falcao, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Mass Relevance joined Dodd of Austin Ventures and Josh Kerr, Co-founder and CEO of Written teamed with Krishna Srinivasan, general partner at Live Oak Venture Partners.
Mass Relevance got early traction by landing a six-figure deal with MTV, said Falcao. And then the Co-founders brought on Sam Decker, formerly of BazaarVoice, as its CEO. He had connections with Austin Ventures. Mass Relevance got seed funding easily and raised its first round without a lot of trouble, Falcao said. Mass Relevance also went to California and received funding from Mike Maples Jr.’s Floodgate Partners, an early investor in Twitter.
Kerr bootstrapped his first two companies, but he wanted to build a really big company with Written, which markets bloggers’ content to brands, so he saw the need to get funding from the start. He was able to get a seed round from Live Oak Venture Partners.
“I wanted the structure that comes from raising money and the acceleration that comes with it,” Kerr said.

Signs of a successful startup

Next, England asked the venture capital investors to talk about the signs they look for when evaluating a startup investment, the warning signs of bad investments and top signs of good investments.
“This is such a people business,” said Srinivasan with Live Oak Partners. “I think that is the most important factor. We’re looking for people who have an insight from what they have done before.”
Live Oak Partners also looks for people they can work with and collaborate, Srinivasan said. The ones that don’t work out are entrepreneurs who are not collaborative and those that don’t want to be great partners, he said.
“It’s obviously team, team, team,” Dodd said.
BWJozAFCYAEAKeaBut Mass Relevance had a really great product and they were solving a problem of aggregating real-time Tweets for companies early on, Dodd said.
“What we try to do is look around the corner at the early markets,” Dodd said.
Austin Ventures saw Mass Relevance as being one of the big players in social media for television, Dodd said.

The importance of relationships

Next, England asked how often the companies and funders met and interacted with each other.
Falcao said he sees Dodd once every quarter, but that Dodd met with other executives, like Decker, on a more regular basis.
Dodd said he talked to Decker about once or twice a week. He joked he visited the Mass Relevance office often because they have free lunch for employees. His firm also helped in hiring some of the senior executives and helped to recruit people.
“We can get six head of sales literally almost over night,” he said.
Kerr said Srinivasan gives his seed stage company sage advice.
A good investor helps in team building and scaling the company much more aggressively, Srinivasan said.
England also asked if there was a downside in partnering with investors. The question was met with laughter and then a bit of awkward silence before Falcao answered.
“When things are going well, things are going well,” said Falcao. “VCs are good. They come with checks and advice and more checks. When things work, they work. So far, we haven’t gone through hardship. So it’s tough to point to anything.”
The downside is companies start to rely on them, Kerr said.
“They are bringing this really great value to the business. It’s not just money,” Kerr said. “It’s your buddy. It’s much, much more than that. But you’re not the only company they are invested in and you’re not getting 100 percent of their time. So the only downside is you might want more and not get it.”

What happens when things are not going well? England asked.

imgres-10“I have plenty that are not doing well,” Dodd said. “They don’t have offices like this. They don’t have free lunches. We focus on burn.”
Austin Ventures works to make sure they are focused on maximizing profit and minimizing losses and working to get market share in their industries, Dodd said. The relationship between the investor and the entrepreneur doesn’t change, he said. In a few cases, though, it has, he said.
“I still believe in what they are doing, it’s just taking longer than expected,” Dodd said.
Venture capitalists like to chase trends but it’s good to keep focused on the main business and not get distracted by whacky ideas and the latest trends, Falcao said.
“You need to ask yourself are we just chasing something new?” Falcao said. “You shouldn’t always do exactly what your customers want you to do. There’s something about staying on a mission and staying focused rather than chasing X.”
When a firm makes an investment and things don’t go as planned, the investors work to salvage the value and help hold the ship together to find an acquirer or to get some modest outcome, Srinivasan said.
“Those things take a lot of hard work,” he said.

Making the pitch to investors

BWPJv2yCIAAwxMGEngland then asked the entrepreneurs how they marketed themselves to potential investors.
Kerr said when he pitched his company to Live Oak, Srinivasan sent him three really challenging questions in an e-mail message. He had time to think about the answers, but he couldn’t come up with the answers.
“Ultimately I ended up going back to him and saying these questions are too hard,” Kerr said.
At an early stage, the investment in the company is more about the people than the idea, and it’s better to be honest and admit when you don’t know something, Kerr said.
“If you don’t know the answer, you don’t know the answer,” he said.
Srinivasan said that he liked the honesty that Kerr displayed. He was able to evaluate the risk of investing in them and to gauge how much it would take to get the company to the next level, he said.
Startups should know how to answer basic questions from investors about customer acquisition costs and know how to scale, Falcao said.
“If you haven’t thought about that, you’re not thinking about how hard it is to scale a SMB (Small to Medium-Sized Business) company,” Falcao said.
How much money should startups ask for and how much time should they spend doing it?
The size of a check should be reflective of the stage of the company and issues it is facing, Srinivasan said.
“Just getting out of the gate, you’re going to raise a little bit of money,” Dodd said.
Typically, seed stage companies raise money from angel investors ranging from $350,000 to $1.2 million, Dodd said. A Series A round receives between $2.5 million and $7 million and a Series B round can get up to $20 million, he said.
Kerr said he spends 90 percent of his time raising money. His other partners focus on running the business.

The startup ecosystem in Austin

250px-AustinSkylineLouNeffPoint-2010-03-29-bEngland asked if Austin had a strong enough funding ecosystem to support startups.
Both Kerr and Falcao raised money from California from Floodgate Investments.
“More firms. We need more firms here,” Dodd said.
The ecosystem needs more sophisticated seed stage investors, he said. He said he wished there were three or four more firms like Live Oak to increase competition for funding, he said.
Raising second and third round funding is easy if a company is doing well, he said. But it’s harder to get people in the valley to invest in early stage companies, he said.
Austin needs more firms focused on early stage, Dodd said. More investment firms are good for Austin, he said.
“A rising tide floats all boats,” he said. “The more money that is in town, the better everyone will do.”
In the 30 years he has been in the market, this is the most vibrant and most exciting time, Srinivasan said. The quality of the ideas is really good, he said.
“Clearly this place can have more early stage companies,” he said.
The overall maturing of Austin’s startup ecosystem has contributed to Austin’s vibrant startup community, Srinivasan said. People who have been through the process a few times and transplants from California now populate it, he said.
“It’s a genealogy effect,” Dodd said. Successful companies spin out successful startups, he said.
Austin Ventures has funded three or four startups by people who left BazaarVoice, a company Austin Ventures backed that went public, Dodd said.

How to Get Money from VC and Angel Investors

Laura Kilcrease, Brett Hurt, Michele Skelding and Rick Timmins Photo by ©2013, Scott Van Osdol, www.vanosdol.com

Laura Kilcrease, Brett Hurt, Michele Skelding and Rick Timmins Photo by ©2013, Scott Van Osdol, www.vanosdol.com

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Austin has one of the nation’s most active angel networks through the Central Texas Angel Network, known as CTAN.
Last year, CTAN, with 100 members, invested about $8 million in 28 companies, including 13 new companies and 15 portfolio companies.
Every angel investor is doing it because they are passionate, said Michele Skelding, a CTAN member and angel investor.
She spoke at the RISE Lunch & Learn panel Tuesday on Angel & VC Funding at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin.

Michele Skelding photo by ©2013, Scott Van Osdol, www.vanosdol.com

Michele Skelding photo by ©2013, Scott Van Osdol, www.vanosdol.com

Laura Kilcrease, UT McCombs Entrepreneur-in-Residence, moderated the panel, which included Skelding, Brett Hurt, a serial entrepreneur who has founded five companies and is now an angel investor and Rick Timmins, member of CTAN.
Throughout an hour long discussion, the panelists talked about a wide range of topics including what they look for when deciding to make an investment to tips on how to talk to a potential investor.
A startup must have five critical ingredients to build a successful company, said Hurt. He details them on his blog Lucky7.io. They are a solid business plan, a good team, the proper mindset, funding and culture.
While Hurt, 41, spent the first half of his life building companies, he plans to spend the second half helping entrepreneurs make an impact on Austin. His focus is on ideas that can become big businesses. Hurt co-founded Bazaarvoice which is now a $540 million company.
Laura Kilcrease and Brett Hurt photo by ©2013, Scott Van Osdol, www.vanosdol.com

Laura Kilcrease and Brett Hurt photo by ©2013, Scott Van Osdol, www.vanosdol.com

Hurt has met with 200 entrepreneurs in the last six and he says there are people thinking big in Austin and some of them are thinking really big.
“There are some people who are thinking too big,” he said.
He’s only interested in working with companies that have products like Bazaarvoice and HomeAway. The one difference is if he has his Angel hat on he will make an investment in something different like Deep Eddy Vodka. He actually met Clayton Christopher, the founder of Deep Eddy Vodka, through RISE.
“I’m a huge, huge fan of RISE,” Hurt said. “This is one of the best things the city has going.”
If he makes an investment in a company like Deep Eddy and he gets back three times his investment then that’s just fine, he said.
But normally, he wants to see companies that have a clear path to get to $100 million in revenue or $1 billion in revenue.
“Most of the things I see are not close to that,” he said. “Lifestyle businesses are just fine. I’m a think big guy.”
When it comes to writing a check, Timmins looks at four things. The most important thing is the entrepreneur, he said. He looks for leadership qualities, managing skills, the ability to take advice and listening skills.
“It’s about the person or the people running the company,” he said. “Fifty percent of what I look at when I decide to invest is about the entrepreneur…If there are any doubts in my mind, I don’t do it.”
His second criterion for investment is the company’s technology and whether it’s disruptive enough. He’ll often consult experts to help him assess that.
The third thing he looks at is a customer.
“All you need for me to believe this is one paying customer who believes in what you’re doing and what you’re trying to establish,” he said. “The last thing I look at is the business plan.”
The business plan makes up just 10 percent of his decision making process.
“I don’t believe business plans anymore,” he said. “But I want you to go through the exercise…I want you to go through the process of thinking through it.”
As a venture capitalist, Kilcrease looks at two key aspects: the jockey and the team, she said.
“We know the business plan is wrong but it’s giving us an idea of what you’re thinking,” she said. “The next thing I look at is the market.”
The average angel investment is around $275,000 and the average venture capital round is $2 million to $3 million.
“I think the jockey and the market is key,” Kilcrease said. “The very last thing I look at is the technology. An “A team” will be able to rework the technology to the market or pivot as they go along.”
In addition to VCs and Angels, now investors are starting to see a third category called the Super Angel who is funding the gap between seed stage and Series A funding for startups, Kilcrease said. And another funding source is syndication between angel networks across the country, which can provide funding in the $1 million to $3 million range, she said.
“Don’t just think about angels as a $50,000 check,” she said.
Mentorship that a company gets is more important than the amount of money they receive, Hurt said.
“A business needs capital and mentorship,” he said. “It’s like a marriage. You can take money from angels and it can be your worst nightmare. It’s got to be the right fit.”
CTAN has five funding cycles through the year, said Skelding. And CTAN added office hours as a more informal way to get to know the angel investors and for entrepreneurs to discuss their ideas, she said. One big mistake entrepreneurs make is that they are just not prepared to pitch to investors.
“You’ve got to learn how to speak to an investor,” Skelding said. “They’ve seen thousands of deals.”
Entrepreneurs need to serve up their ideas in a way that is quick and interesting, she said.
Angels will invest in any type of businesses, Kilcrease said.
“If you get the right angel there’s almost no area they won’t consider,” she said. Whereas, VCs have specialized areas they invest in, she said.
Since 2009, Timmins has invested in 24 companies and only one has a chance to be public, he said.
In response to a question about the single biggest mistake people make in their pitch, Hurt said that entrepreneurs go into the VC or Angel pitch and they show a hockey stick growth slide that they don’t believe in.
“Set expectations you think you can meet,” he said.
Rick Timmins photo by ©2013, Scott Van Osdol, www.vanosdol.com

Rick Timmins photo by ©2013, Scott Van Osdol, www.vanosdol.com

Timmins echoed that sentiment saying that entrepreneurs need to set realistic expectations and achieve them.
“If you don’t want the pressure of being accountable then be like my parents and don’t ever raise money,” Hurt said. His dad created a halogen fishing light but turned down an offer from Wal-Mart because he wanted to keep his business simple.
Another audience member asked about when to take additional funding for her business.
“Only take the amount of money that will add value to get you to the next level,” Kilcrease said.

Startup Advice from Serial Entrepreneurs in Austin

Founder Silicon Hills News
BKKg61ZCAAAkRCVStartup founders can learn a lot from entrepreneurs who have been there and done that.
And on Monday, three serial entrepreneurs in Austin shared some of the challenges they faced in building their companies and some tips on how others can succeed.
Sam Decker, co-founder of Mass Relevance, Carl Shepherd, co-founder of HomeAway and Susan Strausberg, co-founder of 9WSearch participated in a RISE lunch and learn entrepreneurship super panel moderated by Ellie Brett, founder of Media Bombshell. About 120 people attended the event held at Mass Relevance’s downtown headquarters and sponsored by Turnstone.
Decker’s entrepreneurial roots go back to fourth grade when he ran a go-kart repair business and that got him into fixing engines.
He started working for Apple out of college. Then he ran three failed startups in the Bay area before Dell called.
“Even at Dell I always sought out the entrepreneurial jobs,” Decker said.
BKNAHbXCcAAg6ckHe worked at turning Dell.com into a big business. But after seven years, he wanted to launch a startup again.
Decker left to work at Bazaarvoice, founded in 2005. After five years, Bazaarvoice had $50 million in revenue and 500 people.
“Any time you are making that move to the next journey you are stepping off a cliff,” Decker said.
He left Bazaarvoice to co-found Mass Relevance, a social media company focused on handling Twitter campaigns for TV, sports and media companies.
Today, Mass Relevance has 85 people and does half its work for brands and half for media and sports teams.
Strausberg grew up in an entrepreneurial family.
“One needed to be in control of one’s own life,” she said.
Over time, she became obsessed with computers. She worked in publishing and film. She founded a publishing company and co-produced BKNAUiBCEAAbSdr“It Came from Hollywood,” a Paramount Pictures film.
She earned the title of “Dot Com Diva” for launching EDGAR Online, a financial data company, in 1995 with her husband Marc Strausberg. They left the company in 2007 to pursue other interests. They moved to Austin a few years ago to launch 9W Search Inc., an advanced financial search engine aimed at mobile users.
Shepherd, co-founder of HomeAway, was not a born entrepreneur.
“I did not come to be an entrepreneur overnight,” he said. “I was a late bloomer.”
At first he worked as a consultant for what is now Accenture and he also worked for magazine publishers.
He cut his entrepreneurial teeth at Hoover’s Online, where he worked as chief operating officer. Hoover’s Online was an information research business and was one of the first successful subscription based companies on the Web. He took the company public in 1999 and stayed on for a few years and then he joined Austin Ventures. That’s where he met Brian Sharples. They had coffee at Starbucks, the one that’s across the street from what’s now HomeAway’s headquarters. At that Starbucks, they started brainstorming ideas for businesses. They came up with one for selling information on outsourcing. But they both settled on addressing the pain in the vacation rental market. They both had families who liked to stay in rental homes instead of hotels when they travelled.
“Renting a vacation home really sucked,” he said.
They set about to fix that problem and came up with HomeAway as a solution.
Today, HomeAway has 1,300 employees on six continents including 600 employees in Austin, Shepherd said.
Next, Brett with Media Bombshell asked the entrepreneurs a series of questions including what was their biggest surprise about being an entrepreneur.
“The biggest surprise is that really great ideas and wonderful people and the best possible teams fail,” said Shepherd.
“So few people understand and embrace innovation,” said Strausberg.
“The highs are higher and the lows are lower,” said Decker. “Every rejection is like a rejection. And every win is like we’re going to be huge.”
But over time, the volatility starts to shrink, Decker said.
The next question Brett asked was what was the toughest challenge the entrepreneurs faced and how did they get through it.
Strausberg said in 2003 Market Watch wanted to buy EDGAR Online but that fell through. They had to pivot the business and find another way to exit the business, she said.
At Hoover’s Online, Shepherd bought a company called Power Rise in August of 2001 and after September of 2001 they had to completely revamp the business and eventually close down Power Rise. They had to pivot Hoover’s Online to go back to a subscription model.
Coming up with a company name is one of the biggest challenges a startup faces, Decker said.
One of the big challenges Mass Relevance faced when it launched was securing an official partnership with Twitter, Decker said. He personally negotiated the rights to use Twitter’s data, which was a critical aspect of their platform.
The panel also discussed how they handled risk. Decker said a good entrepreneur does his best or her best to mitigate risk.
And Shepherd said he has gotten more tolerant of risk during the past five to seven years.
“I feel like I’ve been far more in control as an entrepreneur than I was as an employee,” he said. “And I’m far more aggressive today than I was five or six years ago.”
The panel also gave advice to entrepreneurs.
Don’t lie to the IRS, said Shepherd. He has a 28-year-old son who is running a startup in the Bay Area and that’s the advice he gave him.
“Surround yourself with people and advisors who know what they’re doing,” he said.
“I would say first of all, think twice, then think three times,” Strausberg said. Thoroughly investigate the market, the competition and the validity of the idea, she said. And make sure you’re ready to cope emotionally with the risk and uncertainty of running a startup, she said.
“Think bigger,” said Decker. Whatever you’re thinking about add a zero to it, he said.
“Push yourself,” he said.

Pursue Your Passion, says Bijoy Goswami, Austin’s Bootstrapping Guru

Special Contributor to Silicon Hills News
Bijoy Goswami has a strange role in Austin startups.
With his wild mop of hair and ubiquitous jeans and t-shirt, the bootstrapping guru has a rock star quality to him. He’s written a book used by Leadership Austin and made a movie. He’s known for his mental models of how the universe works. He incorporates his spiritual journey into everything he does and has officiated at the weddings of four of his friends as a member of the Universal Life Church.
People are usually inspired by his message and dazzling intellectual display, though some are disgruntled that among all the talk of journeys and anecdotes of successful bootstrapping was no concrete, five-point plan.
But Goswami isn’t about the five-point plan. He’s passionate about the bootstrap method of starting a business as a road to enlightenment. Greatly condensed, his bootstrap message is:
“I don’t know what your resources are. I don’t know what your idea is or who your customers are. I don’t know what obstacles you’re facing. But if you want to be an entrepreneur, you don’t have to wait for somebody to give you a lot of money. You can look for the right person to embark on the entrepreneurial adventure with you, build something with the resources you have, tweak it until customers are willing to buy it and begin the sometimes painful, arduous but exciting journey of birthing a business. Along the way, you will find answers, work out problems, experience emotions, grow immensely and discover yourself.”
Of course, when he says it, there’s a fugue involved, and Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey, James Madison the fourth President of the United States, Apple’s Steve Wozniak and Southwest Airlines, just for starters. When he says it, many people leave feeling as if their struggles and fears are just part of the progression of something brave and exciting.
At the same time, Goswami doesn’t just pump people up with empty expectations. These days, he says, we’re moving into a period of “Entrepreneur Porn.”
“It’s like ‘I’m so cool, I’m an entrepreneur,’” he says, sucking in his cheeks and raising an eyebrow for effect. “But the truth is it’s hard fucking work. It’s a lifelong thing. And it’s even harder because most of the stories that are told are wrong. People are seduced by the story of entrepreneurship but entrepreneurship will destroy you. It will break you down. It will get you in touch with your false ego. You’re going to be transformed.”
Goswami was formally introduced to bootstrapping in the 1990s while a student at Stanford. But he was informally introduced to it long before.
He was born in Bangalore, Southern India, to a Hindu father and a Catholic mother, a duality he said set up a theme for his life. When he was in 4th grade, his parents moved to Taipei, Taiwan. He attended Catholic schools, then American schools–his mother’s idea. To afford it, she became a teacher at the school. His parents, he said, have always embraced the idea of adventure and possibility—from their intermarriage, to leaving India for Taipei, then Taipei for Hong Kong International School.
“My parents are fellow travelers on a journey… they travel all the time. Their life has been about an opening up of possibility rather than a closing down. That’s a great gift they gave us. From (my mother’s) perspective, Taiwanese schools were more rigid. They were about a stifling of creativity. She wanted her boys to get an American education. “
Goswami attended high school in Hong Kong where he met his “partner in crime” Desmond Chu, with whom he began bootstrapping. They’d get a shipment of Korean shoes and sell it to friends.
“Des was a total entrepreneur and we were living in the most free market in the world,” Goswami said. “I think that’s when I got the first inkling of the ‘Power of Two’” another model that explains the exponential growth in potential when you have two people working on the same goal. In school, Goswami served as president of the class, then president of the school, always with Chu as vice president.
From Hong Kong, he went to Stanford in the Silicon Valley when it was just emerging as the Silicon Valley.
That’s where he fell in love with bootstrapping as a path. By the time he’d arrived, venture capital had become the dominant story. But he would go out of his way to hear Scott Cook talk about the Valley’s bootstrapping history, including his own company, Intuit.
“They couldn’t get funding, so they didn’t get funding. They had to figure out how to make it work. For a while they sold printing paper for checks to survive. There was just something about that that resonated with me.”
When he finished school, he needed a sponsor to stay in the U.S. and found one with Trilogy, a company that had been bootstrapped by some people from Stanford. But they needed to send him to a town he’d never heard of called Austin, Texas.
“Austin is the city of self discovery,” he said. “It’s all about letting go of what you were holding on to before and picking up new things. No one judges you here. It’s like, ‘I can love yoga and do two-stepping?’”
The rest of his story is a merging of many things. First, his spirituality.
By the time he was 20, he was an agnostic if not an atheist, which meant “a separation from my mother on the one issue that mattered to her.” This was the beginning of a model he constructed about the way people live. First, they receive ideas about the world from the external—parents, school, a mentor, an employer. Some people stop there.
Others wind up releasing everything they’ve been taught. Laying it all down, deconstructing it. That’s the next phase.
Finally you begin to build a new idea for yourself and of yourself, incorporating as you choose, bits from your past. This could go on forever.
Bootstrapping, especially in Austin, is the same process, Bijoy said. You separate from the security of someone else’s ideas and funds and build something based on your passion, using your own ability to navigate the questions and the issues.
Austin is the best place to do that because it invites people to create not for money or power—both of which are iffy when you start a business—but for the joy of creating a business. For the journey and what you learn from it.
When you’re looking for venture capital, he said, the question is “are you going to build the next big thing?” But in bootstrapping, especially in Austin, it’s “Did you express the thing you wanted to express?”
“It’s not about getting rich…. for bootstraps, getting rich is incidental to getting to do what you’re passionate about.”
Goswami left Trilogy and started his own company, Aviri, but it didn’t take off. A half a million dollars was spent and his cofounder left. So he carried on for awhile on his own, bootstrapping, in that phase of spiritual development like Gotama Buddha when he goes to the forest. No money, no food. The hard part of enlightenment.
He kept it going for awhile and found that other people who were bootstrapping companies kept asking him to have coffee, lunch, breakfast, to talk about their challenges, discoveries and anxieties about bootstrapping. It was then that he started Bootstrap Austin. He thought it would be one meeting. It turned into a regular meetup group.
And he met…everyone.
“He is so well networked,” said Bjorn Billhardt, CEO of Enspire which was a new company with three or four people when Billhardt met Goswami. The two became fast friends and Goswami officiated at Billhardt’s wedding. “He is like the glue that pulls people together. I would say a vast network of my professional friends came through connections initially made by Bijoy. Professional recruiters charge an arm and a leg for just one connection….”
But it wasn’t only his connections that made a difference. It was the bootstrap mental model.
“I was thinking about seeking funding when I met Bijoy and he changed the way I thought about it,” said Billhardt, whose company has grown to more than 50 employees with an office in Berlin and global fortune 500 companies as clients. “It wouldn’t have been possible without Bijoy,” he said. “He lets you just talk it out and that is what a lot of entrepreneurs need. That’s one thing a lot of VC companies provide and professional coaches charge $400 an hour for. Bijoy does a lot of that work for free. He gave me advice to release a product even if it has bugs in it. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas…a lot of entrepreneurs are terribly afraid to do that. But then, Bijoy points out, if you keep a product under wraps, people don’t know about it and they don’t join your company.”
A lot of the work Goswami does—such as helping with RISE—he does for free. He does have a few clients, including Leadership Austin who use his book “The Human Fabric” with each new class of Austin leaders. The book, written with David Wolpert, focuses on identifying your ‘core energy’ and how you can use it to build something—a business or a community. Goswami also leads groups with Leadership Austin and is a cofounder with the organization’s CEO Heather McKissick, of the Austin Equation Initiative which was created to answer the question “What Makes Austin, Austin?”
“Running a small nonprofit is often like bootstrapping a startup,” McKissick said. “Bijoy’s expertise helps us understand how to do that well. In a down fundraising environment, it’s very helpful to have his unique skills and advice.”
He is everywhere. And he knows everyone. But if you ask him what his goal in life is, he’ll tell you, “It’s learning to Be Joy.”
And that’s a whole other story.

Austin-San Antonio tech start-up incubators, accelerators and other programs

So many central Texas start-ups have taken off recently and some of them may need a boost to get to the next level.
This list of Austin and San Antonio incubators and accelerators help companies with a leg up in the marketplace.
Some of them have rigorous application and screening processes. Check them out to find the one that’s right for your venture.

Tech Ranch is a for-profit incubator founded in 2008 by Kevin Koym and Jonas Lamis. It offers co-working space for start-ups, consulting services and specialized programs to help entrepreneurs launch their ventures. Its flagship programs are Camp Fires, which are informal gatherings on Friday, Venture Forth, an 8-week program, and Pioneer Program, a weekly meeting coupled with monthly rent for office space.

Capital Factory, founded in 2009 by Joshua Baer and Bryan Menell, is a seed-stage technology accelerator for startups. It runs a 10 week program that begins in May and runs through August. It ends with a Demo Day in September in which the companies pitch to potential investors, media and others.

TechStars Cloud is the newest accelerator for high-tech startups in the Silicon Hills area. It’s based at the Geekdom in downtown San Antonio. The inaugural class of TechStar Cloud companies kicks off in January. Each company receives $18,000 and access to another $100,000 loan. The 12-week program ends with a Demo Day.

Austin Technology Incubator, founded in 1989, has helped more than 200 companies. It’s part of the IC2 Institute at the University of Texas.

Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas helps accelerate startup companies in central Texas.

SXSW Accelerator 2012 – this is the fourth year for this competition which features 48 start-up companies pitching to an audience of investors and experienced entrepreneurs. The judges then choose 18 finalists who give a final pitch and then the winners are chosen.

One Semester Start-up at the University of Texas debuted this fall. The companies will pitch to investors and others on Thursday. Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise Bob Metcalfe, Joshua Baer of Capital Factory and John Butler, Director of H.K. Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Texas head up the program.

This Friday, Ash Maurya, founder of Spark59 and author of Running Lean, is putting on a one-day workshop at Tech Ranch Austin. The program, which costs $249, starts at 9 a.m.

Other programs designed to spur innovation among the entrepreneurial mindset include:

3 Day Startup

RISE Austin

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