From Product Hunt to a Seed Round
A few months ago, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and came across a post from @ProductHunt advertising the opportunity to apply to the next 500 Startups batch via a public interview on Product Hunt. Of all the applications, Ryan and Erik of Product Hunt would choose 12 finalists to be interviewed, and Sean Percival from 500 Startups would conduct the interview on behalf of 500 Startups, and commit to accepting one of the featured finalists to join the next 500 Startups batch.
It was a short application, so I figured I had nothing to lose and quickly filled out the application for the startup we were working on, CourseLoads. After not hearing back for a few days, I figured CourseLoads was not selected. I had a Jewish holiday a few days later, and as an orthodox Jew, I completely unplug for the duration of the holiday, which happened to be three full days (as the holiday overlapped into Sabbath). After Sabbath ended on Saturday night, I checked my email and was pleasantly surprised to see that we were in fact selected as a finalist (from over a few hundred applicants) to be featured on the Product Hunt/500 Startups live interview. Yet, that feeling of joy quickly disappeared after I had read the following email, that stated the interview would take place on the next day, which by then had already passed.
I was incredibly disappointed at the missed opportunity, but decided to log on to the interview page anyway, and respond to whatever questions might have been asked. There were a few questions from Sean Percival, which I responded to, and then there were a few questions from “viewers” of the live/public interview. One of those questions was from Thomas Korte of AngelPad, another startup accelerator.
I responded to Thomas’ question hoping Sean might see my well-thought out response. I also emailed Ryan, Erik, and Sean explaining why I missed the live interview, and they assured me that a finalist had not been selected yet and that I was still in the running. About a day later I got this tweet from Thomas:
At this point, I had heard of AngelPad (and actually had it on my trello board of accelerators I was interested in applying to), but until doing some quick research, I did not realize the extent to which the program is so well respected. AngelPad ranks as one of the top three accelerators (the order varies depending on who you ask and what variables you’re measuring).
I sent Thomas a direct message on Twitter and after a few communications, Thomas informed me that AngelPad #8 was starting five days later and encouraged me to apply via the online application, despite having missed the deadline for the session. I applied that night and figured my chances were slim. I followed up via twitter and email but did not hear back for a few days. At this point, I figured we were not accepted and tried to forget about it all together. To make matters worse, 500 startups had made their selection and it wasn’t us. Finally, on a Thursday night I received an email from Thomas asking me to come in to the office for an interview the next morning.
I came into the office the next morning for what was supposed to be a 15 minute meeting. It ended up going for almost an hour. I pitched Thomas and Carine (partner at AngelPad and wife of Thomas) and got to the third slide before I was interrupted by Thomas firing questions at me. I likely spoke incredibly fast as I tend to do when I get excited, but over all, I felt like the meeting was going really well. They both seemed excited and interested in what I had to say and we ended the meeting with Thomas telling me they’d need to discuss my application and they’d get back to me sometime over the weekend. I thanked them both for their time and left. As soon as I got out of the office building, I got this text message from Thomas:
The meeting did in fact go as well as I had thought. Even better. I was pumped. I showed up that Monday for the first day of what turned out to be an incredible 3.5 months with a bunch of super smart people. I’ll save the details of that experience for another post, so let’s fast forward to demo day, which just took place on Tuesday (1/20).
We pitched a room full (170+) of silicon valley investors, which is both exhilarating and intimidating at the same time. Thankfully, it went really well and all the AngelPad companies did a great job with their presentations. After our pitches, we mingled with the investors and I was super surprised at how eager they were to meet and learn more about CourseLoads. I can talk about my company for hours, so it’s nice when people actually want to hear about it.
We’ve officially kicked off our fundraising with the completion of the AngelPad demo day and are on our way to a seed round! Demo day has been super helpful in our initial introduction to investors, but I’ve also been super impressed by AngelList, which has led to a number of great introductions. I’ll write more about that in another post.
But none of this would have happened without Product Hunt and the folks behind it. Thanks Ryan, Erik, and the rest of the Product Hunt team for helping CourseLoads get to this stage. You guys rock.
So what’s CourseLoads? Find out here.
Know any investors interested in marketplaces and bridging offline/online? Feel free to send them our way: email@example.com (we’re also hiring another iOS engineer!)