From Scraping By On 10k From Parent Loans To Winning 100K: How Data Exploration Startup MapD Won Big

By Andrew Der

The path to startup success is never dull and rarely ever easy. This rings true for Verizon Ventures portfolio companies, many of which are innovating in emerging sectors or creating their own category. Our new “Concept to Creation” series aims to share some of the best and most interesting stories from our portfolio companies’ past — anywhere from the conception of their idea to creation of their product or service. This month, MapD Founder and CEO Todd Mostak shares a few notable moments from his journey to build a GPU-powered data exploration platform.

MapD Founder and CEO Todd Mostak

It wasn’t quite a business meeting, but early on we entered Nvidia’s Early Stage Challenge contest, which offered a $100K grand prize. At the time, MapD was just my cofounder and I thought our chances of winning were slim, particularly since we were going against much more established startups. The stakes were high however; since we had both left our day jobs, had no funding, and were scraping by on $10K of loans from our parents. If we didn’t get money soon we would have needed to shelve our dreams and go back to work for “the man”.

Somehow though, the judges were inspired by our vision for GPU-powered analytics and the early demo we had cobbled together, and decided to award us the prize.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so shocked in my life. That prize made a huge difference as it conferred immense credibility on our early venture and attracted the interest of investors. Less than a month later we had closed our seed round and we were on our way.

Do you have an interesting startup story? Tell us in the comments.


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