Mentor: Luke Beatty, VP Communities & Local at Yahoo, Founder of Associated Content
TechStars Program: Boulder
When did you first realize you were an entrepreneur?
When I got my first job at a startup. I realized that I loved being responsible for conceiving an idea and being involved in creating your own team. If I have a decent idea, I’m intrigued to get a group of really smart people to work together. It’s more about who I work with and less about what I do. A lot of people are forced into an entrepreneurial mindset given their inclination to solve a problem. With a talented group of engineers, how can we be successful together? My motivation is people and teamwork.
Tell me how you got involved in the Boulder tech scene and TechStars.
This was my first year mentoring at TechStars in Boulder. I used to do Founders Institute. Jason Calacanis and other people had been telling me to give it a try and I had an awesome experience. I was a central mentor for Simple Energy and also let the other groups tap me for connections, ideas, and feedback. I’m an entrepreneur and a startup guy myself so it was exciting and refreshing to meet with folks that were in the embryonic stage of building a business.
What was it that brought you and Simple Energy together?
I felt like Simple Energy was trying to get consumers and businesses to get involved in a completely new behavior. I felt that they were trying to cultivate a new user behavior that’s transformative for the world. It was exciting for me. I also went to the same high school as one of the founders and when you’re an old person like me, that nostalgia helps us bond.
Was there something you kept asking founders, imploring them to answer specifically?
I asked the founders, “What constitutes success?” Starting a business, getting revenue, building a customer base and connecting them with people I knew could be helpful to them – whether it was partnering or fundraising. I’m good with consumer use and behavior, having built a platform that requires all of those components. I have experience building things from zero users to millions of them.
What’s so special about working in Colorado?
Because I sold a Denver startup to Yahoo, I’m very interested in helping Boulder and Denver sustain business. I was adamant about not moving the company and showing Yahoo why it was important to stay where we were. The startup scene here is so legitimate now. Keeping employees and companies here is going to help the culture evolve.
Who mentored you?
No, nobody helped me. I did it all by myself! -laughter- Just kidding. I would absolutely thank Mike Perlis who is now the CEO of Forbes. Mike is somebody who is a very thoughtful, personal guy and incredibly intelligent about the evolution of a business– all the perspectives that relate to it, be it PR-related, venture capital, general public, or client-facing. He allowed me to understand how the broader world needed to perceive what my business does in order to get places.