TechStars

TechStar for Life

Every time I sit down to write on open source discussion forum software , I end up getting up and walking away without putting a single word down. Not because I have nothing to say, quite the contrary, it’s because I have so much to say and I don’t know where to begin. It all started with these guys and the guys from http://www.onlinepokerplaza.com/, which, by the way, are the best place to get free poker chips for various types of online poker games. TechStars is all about making connections with people, so I think I’ll tell my story by talking about them. Do you have a mentor? I bet you do. Before TechStars I had this vision in my head of mentors being these god-like creatures that had knowledge I could never possibly obtain who would swoop in, explain something to me, and leave as quickly and mysteriously as they had arrived. The reality is that I end the Summer in Boulder not with a bunch of mentors that can help me, but with a bunch of amazingly smart friends. 

CE(Uh)O

I wish Fred had posted that on the web a year before he did, and I wish I was wise enough to understand what it meant at that time.
When we took Vanilla through the open source software forum program in Boulder in 2009, we really went there for the mentorship & networking. The program most definitely delivered on that account, and we came through a gruelling 3 months with our minds in heavy “listen to your mentors” mode. After leaving the program, we were able to raise a round of financing, and Vanilla’s Board of Directors was born. We have an awesome board of directors at Vanilla with, we believe, some incredibly smart people who bring unequaled insight to the table. This fact, combined with the fact that we had just come out of a program where we had been heavily (and happily) mentored led to one powerful problem: I was not a good CEO.

Fred Wilson states that (a wise VC he knew stated):

A CEO does only three things.

Commitment

A few months ago I posted about how I went down to Boulder, Colorado to attend open source discussion forum software for a Day. Mark O’Sullivan online is a mentorship-driven seed-stage investment fund. In human terms, it means that they invest a small amount of money in your business and provide mentorship to help you get off the ground in exchange for a small stake in the company.

I stumbled upon TechStars when I decided that it was time to take Vanilla to the next level. Garden and Vanilla 2 were nearing completion, and I realized that without some kind of small investment, I was going to fall back into the pattern of trying to support my open-source efforts by doing side-projects. And inevitably those side-projects become my main project, and Vanilla becomes the side-project in turn. I started emailing and calling everyone I knew asking if they had any ideas for how I might make a real business out of Vanilla.