When I set off to start Mantle., I was coming off the fizzling of starting a shopping social network, Aimlistly.
It felt like failure. But, what I learned from consuming as much as I could about the tech-startup world (one that now seemed so far away in every place but Mississippi) was that the only true failure is failure to learn from a failure. I knew one thing for sure: I was not ready to quit technology startups.
I was going to double down. After all, tech is the future.
That is when I remembered the first lesson taught probably in every business school: a problem is an opportunity in disguise. If that is indeed the case, Mississippi was awash in opportunities in the application, internet, and software startup world. This is not a way to excuse our failure to launch with Aimlistly, that buck stopped with me after all. But, the experience was worth its weight in gold as I was able to pinpoint places that I thought were not only underrepresented in Mississippi, but downright missing: creative spaces for startup networking, visible technology and internet investment, and any sort of a magnet for technically skilled developers (especially those with the time and desire to work for equity).
Problems to some, opportunities for those that refuse to fail.
To call it a pivot would be technically incorrect because I was starting something totally new.
Mantle. would be a place for startup-minded entrepreneurs to assemble, to drink a beer or eat a popsicle, meet others, brainstorm, share skills, find inspiration, and turn problems into opportunities. While I had worked to find startup capital for Aimlistly for nearly a year, this co.working and inc.ubator concept immediately found favor with our first investor group. Of course, it helped that the group saw the vision and business opportunity presented by Mantle., but our first group was also immensely interested in doing something great for Jackson — for Mississippi. They, like me, believed that there may not be a more creative collection of humans on planet earth than in Mississippi. Mississippi Jazz taught us that we could make something new out of something old. Faulkner and Tennessee Williams and Eudora Welty and Richard Wright taught us that we can see the flaws in the world if we just open our eyes.
Mantle. Co.working and Inc.ubator closed its initial equity raise in January 2016. We opened our doors in April. We added our first incubator company, Finaius (Meet the guys in Sandbox, see link below), in June. We became a place that began to create and companies began to spin out of thin air; our first goal of filling the creative space for startup networking was seemingly working! How then could we accomplish our second goal and increase visibility of the state’s investor capital? How could we let the investors in Mississippi know about all that was brewing not only around Mantle., but around the state? There are new companies (like Cattlog), youth initiatives (like Youth Media Project), and coding schools (like Basecamp Coding Academy) popping up to fill some of the same void that Mantle. hopes to fill. Mississippi capital needs to know about all of these companies and programs in order for our state to compete in today’s economy.
That is what Mantle. Sandbox is out to accomplish. Sandbox is a newsletter that seeks to highlight the best of tech at Mantle. and in Mississippi.
(Download Sandbox in pdf here).
Not all off the featured companies are raising capital. Some we are featuring because of awesome things they have accomplished (Like Curtsy). Others are taking investment, but you won’t see any ask for capital in our newsletter. Our goal is simply to inform. We will feature the industry and the team and the ideas that make up each of these companies. If they have any interesting tidbits, you may hear a little about that too!
At the very least, we hope that you take the time to peruse our collection of really awesome (in our opinion) technology companies that are hustling to do the next big thing. If you are inspired, drop me a line (christopher at pearlbend dot com) and we can talk technology investing in Mississippi, or I can connect you with any of these featured companies. Whichever you choose, we hope that you stay tuned in to Mantle. as we work to grow some pearls in Mississippi.