Techstars: The Perfect Catalyst for Immersed
Immersed’s journey to building the future of work. For more information, visit Immersed’s website.
Entrepreneur: “one who organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise” or “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money.”
I’m not your typical entrepreneur. In fact, to be completely honest, I struggle to identify as an entrepreneur in today’s terms because I’ve met too many “entrepreneurs” who aren’t genuinely passionate about the value they can bring to their customers and employees, but rather care more about the money they could potentially make if they “get lucky and strike gold.”
I personally don’t care for that. I identify more as a product-person, a tool-builder, an engineer who really loves when my technology makes life better for others.
This drive, this desire, this hunger for genuinely helping our world, I believe, is the true passion that “entrepreneurs” in today’s world really need to go the distance and endure until the end.
My dad said a couple months back, “why do you seem so tired and stressed? How hard could building a business be? You just do it, then make a lot of money.” You have no idea how ridiculous that sounded to me at the time. It wouldn’t suffice to say that I chuckled at the naivety.
It’s Everything But Easy
There are so many aspects to starting a high-growth, venture-backable tech business:
- clearly identifying a deep problem that many people ACTUALLY have (not what you think they have)
- coming up with a genius tech solution (GENIUS, I tell you… If it’s not genius, then either someone else has already built it, there’s already a better solution out there, or there’s little to no barrier to entry for others to copy you)
- assembling an elite team to effectively…
- build that solution in the most efficient and optimized way possible to the point where you can...
- pitch it to early-adopters and hope that they would actually use it (and pay for it), enough to compel them to share it with others (or you may decide to attempt to market it to the masses, hoping more early users stick, which is super difficult as well)
- figuring out how to financially make ends meet during the process of running this business, long enough to get enough traction to...
- coherently pitch to investors (essentially trying to give wealthy people who don’t know you the confidence to trust that them giving you their money will not only help people, but will also give them a significant return on their investment) so that you can...
- raise the funds necessary to accelerate the process because you have competitors who you believe aren’t building the best solution for your audience, then if you do raise the funds…
- putting the money to good use in the most effective way possible to scale the business, the product, the user-base, etc…
- the list goes on and on and it never ends!
All, except for a fortunate few, fail and then generally quit. Starting and building a business is really difficult. REALLY REALLY difficult. We worked so hard (whatever level of work you’re thinking right now, multiply that by 100... literally.) and built a pretty awesome solution.
The Catalysis Begins
Earlier this year, I had met Logan LaHive, the Managing Director at Techstars who we really hit it off with! It seemed like we were a great fit for what they were looking for and we were excited about the possibility of joining this year’s cohort. We were really impressed by their genuine character, as that is very difficult to find through all of the noise in the entrepreneurial world. At the same time, we were also finalists at Y Combinator, so we couldn’t turn YC down without first seeing what they had to say. So YC flew us out to the west coast… for a 10-minute conversation.
I’ve been following Sam Altman as a thought-leader for several years at this point, and so I was really excited to potentially meet him. Only, I didn’t meet him. I met the new CEO of YC, Michael Seibel.
The final interview didn’t go well. Michael didn’t get what we were building, there was a ton of miscommunication, and his team was ultimately proposing us to pivot to a solution that we didn’t believe made any sense. So, we agreed to disagree and parted ways, and then I immediately called Logan to discuss what happened.
Even just the idea of being able to easily pick up the phone and call Techstars in and of itself said a lot to us. I started seeing them as family who was always there for us, rather than just another accelerator program where we were another face in the crowd.
Accelerating The Future
We committed to Techstars, and we knew we were in for a wild ride. I prepped my team for the fire we were about to go through, but we knew it would be good for us... a refining fire.
And thus far, it has been. We’re two weeks away from Demo Day, and we’re confident that this program has added tremendous value to our company. The network is AMAZING. The mentorship is invaluable. There is no doubt in my mind that they are looking out for our best interest. They have such great curriculum, and I know that our team is an even better team from it. It’s no wonder why great companies graduate from Techstars and go on to do such impactful things! Techstars does a great job of helping us trim the fat, focus on what is most important, and move fast. We already thought we were an optimized team, but even more so now. Techstars also brings such a great investor network around us to add fuel to the fire and help us accelerate even more quickly.
We know that Techstars is the perfect catalyst for Immersed’s future, which is going to spark the reshaping of society as we know it! If you’re starting a tech company that you believe could have a huge impact on society, I HIGHLY recommend applying to Techstars. As I mentioned earlier, starting a tech company is immensely difficult. The odds are completely against you, and you’ll need whatever support system you can get, so consider it nothing short of a blessing if you’re given the privilege to join Techstars. Getting into Techstars is the greatest thing that could happen to your company, and if you get in, you will definitely become a believer of top-tier accelerator programs as well!
I had the privilege of talking a bit more about our experience on “Bootstrapping In America”, so feel free to check it out here!