I’m thrilled to announce today that Natty Zola will be joining Matchstick as our newest partner! Natty joins us in Boulder, CO where he is the Managing Director for the Techstars Boulder program. Natty also wrote a blog post detailing why he’s excited to join Matchstick on his personal blog. I’d encourage you to check it out.
It’s been a wild few years since I returned to Minnesota from Colorado in 2012. Since then I’ve worked as a catalyst in the local startup community by co-founding Beta.MN, Twin Cities Startup Week and establishing Techstars in Minnesota. When I founded Matchstick Ventures in 2015 the intent was to “help startups strike in the North.” 43 investments later we’ve made real progress towards that mission. In fact, the Kaufman Institute recently ranked the Twin Cities as the highest ranked metro in the country for the rate of startup growth.
I also believe that great startups and, for that matter, venture capital firms are not made in a geographic vacuum. The interconnectivity of startup ecosystems is crucial for follow-on funding, talent acquisition, customer development opportunities and general diligence on trends in the industry. That’s why it has always been the plan to add a partner to Matchstick from another region that is complementary to the network we’ve built..
Today I’m taking the next step in this plan by welcoming Natty to Matchstick. I did not take the decision to add a partner of Matchstick lightly but Natty is such a natural fit. He is a successful entrepreneur ( Everlater — acquired by AOL), driven community-builder (Techstars Boulder, Boulder Startup Week) and seasoned investor (43 investments to date) who’s embedded himself in the Boulder/Denver ecosystem for over 10 years. I have a deep affinity and excitement for the Rockies region and have taken many trips to Colorado for work…and some fun.
It was during one of these trips when I first met Natty. I had closed our first Matchstick fund and I was a mentor in his Techstars Boulder program. We ended up working closely together via our mutual investment in Adhawk and I was immediately drawn to our like-minded approach to work and life.
This admiration only increased as we began working together when I joined Techstars as a Managing Director in 2016. Since then, we’ve been mentors in each other’s programs every year, held weekly calls to talk startups and life and went on several mountain biking trips. It was during these regular meetups that we realized how well we worked together and would make great partners.
Naturally, the first person I went to discuss the addition of Natty was Seth Levine from Foundry Group — Matchstick’s lead investor, advisor and a close friend. Interestingly, Seth has actually known Natty longer than I have and was a huge advocate. He was a lead mentor for Natty when he went through Techstars Boulder 10 years ago with Everlater and understood right away the chemistry we would have working together. In addition, Seth understood the similarities and opportunities between our two startup regions and the opportunity to lead these markets by working together.
Having worked with Natty for a while now, I’m drawn to how much founders love working with him and the operational mindset he brings to decision-making. He is personable, driven, and empathetic. Natty is an incredible human with whom I’m excited to build Matchstick for the next 20+ years.
So, what’s next for Matchstick?…We believe that this new partnership provides an even stronger platform for supporting our local startup communities and providing resources to our portfolio companies. We will continue building Matchstick to support the most compelling startups in the North and Rockies regions. With offices in both Minneapolis and Boulder, we can leverage our deep ties into our regions and the Techstars network to support the most promising startups across the country.