The truth is that the life of most entrepreneurs is not an easy one. For many of us, it’s a constant daily battle. No matter how well things are going it seems like problems could be just around the corner or there’s an unsurmountable pile of “code-reds” to be dealt with immediately.
That said, it takes a special person to enjoy this kind of stress and punishment. So when it comes to starting and running a business, entrepreneurs need all the help they can get.
An ordinary person spends their life avoiding tense situations.
The entrepreneur spends their life getting into tense situations.
When I first heard of Capital Factory from Jeff Harbach of Central Texas Angel Network, I was very intrigued. He described as sort of an incubator/accelerator thing. But an incubator? Really? Isn’t that for kids or people that don’t know what they are doing?
After meeting Josh Baer, creator of Capital Factory (CF), I could hardly believe such an opportunity existed. It’s no joke, it’s a very serious program that just stomped my preconceptions of incubators into oblivion. Capital Factory is serious business.
What is Capital Factory? Capital Factory is NOT your ordinary incubator. It’s its own beast, in its own unique category. Capital Factory is a community of entrepreneurs, business mentors, investors and vendors dedicated to the long-term success of member startups.
Capital Factory has its own physical space in downtown Austin. It takes up about 23,000 sq ft of office space on the entire top floor of the prestigious Austin Omni Hotel. It’s a bustling, buzzing place at all hours of the day. They have even added an additional entire floor (another 23,000 sq ft) for those companies moving beyond the initial phases of starting up.
CF is not just some 3 month in-and-out deal. I’m not knocking short-term incubators, but that’s just not enough time to get anything significant done —better than nothing but as good as nothing. So when I heard Capital Factory was a 2-year program, I felt a certain dedication and commitment from their team.
I immediately applied and was fortunately accepted into the program after meeting with a few of the directors. That was about 1 year ago, and I’m certain that it has made all the difference for my business.
Here are a few examples how Capital Factory helped my company, ManagerComplete, succeed.
It’s Like Training With Bruce Lee. If You Want to be the Best, You Train With the Best.
First of all, being part of Capital Factory immediately gave me access to Austin’s elite entrepreneurs; seasoned veterans that have had major exits, run major corporations, have specialized business knowledge, or have written books on the subject. You get the picture. This is access that would have been impossible for me to have before.
Just imagine. If you have advertising or marketing questions, you book “office hours” with advertising blackbelt Yvonne Tocquigny. Office hours are short sessions when you can meet one-on-one with mentors or even bring your team along as well.
If you need business strategy advice, you talk to Gordon Daughtery, Josh Kerr, or Bernie Brenner. Got sales questions? Mikey Trafton, Alan Patty or Don Craven. Radical technology ideas? John Price. Want your user interface dialed-in, talk to the leading expert worldwide: Eric Gould Bear. Someone to show you how it’s done from start to finish – Dean Drako is the man. It’s not just for guys though. If you are a business woman there are amazing female role models like Jan Ryan, Mellie Price, and Heather Brunner to help you along the way. You want introductions, Josh Baer – the most connected person in Austin. These are just a few examples. There’s over 50 mentors available for office hours… check them out here.
When the Going Gets Tough, There’s a Team to Support You!
Having seasoned people to talk to and confide in can make all the difference sometimes. There can be some dark days, and when you can share these emotions with others who have been there, it certainly helps. A rope, if you will, to pull you up. Plus, you have a community of other entrepreneurs dealing with similar growing pains so you can share stories, tactics, and ideas with people right down in the trenches with you.
There is another kind of support too that commonly goes unnoticed: the operations team at Capital Factory. The operations team at CF is so helpful when it comes to scheduling time with mentors, video productions, booking conference rooms, handling mail and deliveries, finding office space, etc. It’s like having an Admin staff but not. There’s a whole team here to help: Sarah, Lily, Jessica, Nicole, Ali, Theresa and Lauren.
Show Me the Vendors, Lots of Free Stuff (and not junk either).
Then, come all the business vendor discounts and offers. Through CF connections with Microsoft, I have received over $25K in free development tools like Visual Studio, Sql Server, Office, etc. along with $60K credit in cloud storage. Rackspace hooked us up with 5 redundant servers for free for a full year… another $25K+ free. Loving Rackspace! Google offers free development kits. There’s even free office space for a year. $50K from Amazon Web Services, the list goes on. If you add up all the other vendor stuff, I’ve received upwards of 100K in free tools and services.
Capital Factory University. Like a Mini-MBA.
Capital Factory also offers a mini-MBA program called Capital Factory University (CFU) — organized and directed by business super guru, Mikey Trafton. CFU comes in the form of night classes every 2 weeks with a featured speaker to teach you exactly what you need to know. These classes have been extremely helpful. 2 hours of intense, detailed discussion on everything from Sales, Marketing, Finance, Cap Tables, HR, Financial Modeling, Venture Capital, Legal, etc.
No Bullshit Here. The Advice You Really Need.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s not uncommon to be challenged or have people dislike your ideas — sometimes strongly dislike. People that know, that can call you on any bullshit or bad ideas. The CF mentors are here to help you. To tell you in a blunt, lets-not-waste-any-time-here way. How else would you want it, right?
This is a disapproving look.
“Your projections are all bullshit. Total bullshit.“
“Your company name sucks.”
“I don’t get it, it’s just lists of stuff.”
Access to Capital. Bridging the Gap from Startup to Legitimacy.
Best of all, there are mentors that will actually invest in your company. If you can raise $50K from mentors, CF matches that amount. Amazing, right? That gives you $100K. But it doesn’t stop there. Silverton Partners and Floodgate also match with investments $25K each. So that brings you to $150K. Which is $100K in automatic matching. That is f*cking unbelievable. Just imagine having access to that kind of money without having to waste months on full-time fund-raising.
In my case I was very fortunate to have Yvonne Tocquigny, Dean Drako, and Alan Patty come on as lead mentors. Then Capital Factory matched $50K, then Silverton and Floodgate both came in with $25K each. Do you know how hard that would have been for me to do without CF? Impossible. Impossible because I don’t have the time to fund raise and run the business at the same time. Fund-raising can be an unbelievalbe time-sucker and business distraction.
Events with Lots of People and Awareness.
There is always something going on at Capital Factory: Meetup groups, free lunch, CFU classes… then there are always the larger events that come through town such as SXSW that CF takes part in (see events). These larger events bring 5,000 plus people right through CF and give you the best opportunity to hone your pitch on live people. Trust me, after talking to over a 1,000 people in one night, you’ll have your elevator pitch nailed!
Demo Day is something else that Capital Factory hosts. This is an event when over 100 serious investors come to CF to hear top companies pitch their ideas. 100. Serious. Investors. One room. Just another great opportunity provided by CF.
But Has Capital Factory Made a Difference?
I’ve owned businesses before, and I know first-hand that CF is a huge advantage over my previous experiences. As well, if I compare my company in CF to my company outside of CF, these aren’t even the same category. CF is not just a bunch of young kids with investors throwing money at them. I’m 45 years old with a family.
But what difference has CF really made?
Here’s the proof:
- My sales have doubled in 12 months.
- Before I had no team. No I have a professional team of 5 (3 full-time, 2 contractors).
- We now have a professional product with a world-class user interface.
- We now have evolved our feature-based sales scripts into thought-leadership professional sales scripts
- We have a solid strategy for gaining our next 500, 1000, and 2000 site subscriptions.
- We are gaining recognition on the national stage and have attended major industry expos and events.
- We are becoming a thought leader in franchising through our marketing efforts.
- Before I worked from home, now we have an office right downtown.
The Truth about Capital Factory.
Capital Factory is not for everybody. To be successful here, you have to come with an open mind, be willing to try ideas, be coachable, and be willing to commit to making your dream happen – and thick skin doesn’t hurt. This article doesn’t mean my every experience has been positive at Capital Factory. But trust me, I’m not one to do any unnecessary ass-kissing or take time to write an article that isn’t warranted. I want everyone to know how CF has helped me and so many others.
Some people will thumb their nose at all this and say… well, what did you have to give up? Not very much. I gave up about 5% for all of this Capital Factory support (2% to CF, and the remaining % to my lead mentors). Others will say, “they only want to take your company.” Complete horseshit.
I’ll give up 5% any day of the week for all that Capital Factory has to offer.
I don’t know how long such an amazing light can burn, but the opportunity that Capital Factory presents is unprecedented. Josh Baer and Capital Factory should be recognized as business heroes for doing so much for Austin entrepreneurs. Seriously. Capital Factory has made all the difference for my company.
What Josh Baer has built with the Capital Factory is something legendary. It really is a truly amazing phenomenon and something I feel fortunate to be a part of daily.
Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.