Common Mistakes Why You Fail To Raise Money (And What Can You Do About It)

Every two weeks one Techstars Startup Weekend event postpones or cancels due to the lack of funding. Many events in different regions face the challenge of attracting sponsorships. Here are the most common mistakes:

1) Setting A High Budget

SOLUTION: If you are planning to raise $10K, ask yourself, can you revise your plan to accomplish the same with $7K? Most of the time, organizers ask for arbitrary round numbers like $10K or $15K instead of the actual amount of money needed to achieve specific milestones.

Think about what can you cut. Work to re-budget. Spend a little bit less on marketing. Cancel your fancy T-shirt and video producing.

Be creative how you can spend the money productively. Spend time polishing your budget forecast, so that you can confidently tell sponsors why you are only looking for $7K, and why you know you can achieve high quality with less capital.

2) Not Having The Sponsorships Mentality  

SOLUTION: Put yourself in the sponsors shoes, try to understand what the company actually needs (Job To Be Done) by supporting your event. Are they looking for marketing exposure, engaging with entrepreneurs,  hiring people etc.

Raising sponsorships will take more meetings, and more time with every company, especially for first time events. Be prepared, and ask what the steps are, how long the process will take, and what to expect.

Also, be aware that many sponsors will pass, so it is essential to have of list of more companies to approach, this doesn’t mean you need to talk to every company out there. You can only get sponsorship from a qualified company— who is interested in your space and has the resources required.

Check out our Techstars Startup Weekend Sponsorship Deck

3) Relying on Cash Sponsorship Only

SOLUTION: There is a real possibility that you won’t be able to raise any sponsorship from companies or will raise a lot less than you expected

When your fundraising is not going well, it is time to pause and rethink your strategy, try to come back to sponsor with alternative options to provide in-kind sponsorship or provide the food to the event in return of sponsoring (many companies have discounts with food providers so what would cost you $3,000 can cost them $2,000) in this way you can get what you want with less money for them. Win-win.

In addition, It’s important to differentiate between partners vs. sponsors. By changing the language to partners vs. sponsors it makes them feel more connected to the success of the event. A sponsor writes a check, a partner is more likely to contribute human and financial capital

Reach out to some partners with this example in mind “We understand that you’re not in a place to be a cash sponsor, but would you be interested in offering 5 hours of your company’s services to the winning team as part of the prize package. Engaging with your law firm would really help the top team(s) continue their momentum beyond the weekend. By being  partner we’ll happily give you exposure on our website and during the event.

The important thing is to have a clear plan. What can you do with no or little capital? Come up with a plan, discuss it, get feedback, and then go back and execute on it.

4) Failed To Follow-up With Sponsors

SOLUTION: Decision-Making process will take a lot of time for the company to decide whether to sponsor or not. Therefore, if you can, find out how far in advance that company prefers to be pitched. At the very least, allow for a four to six month for the arrangements to be made.

Give the company some time to check your offer and if you didn’t hear back after a 7-10 business days, maybe you should follow-up. Most follow-ups are better than no follow-up at all but keep it short and straightforward especially if you’re on third and final follow-up. There’s a fine line between persistent and annoying. If you haven’t received a response at this point, it’s probably best to move on to another opportunity.

5) Not Setting The Right Ticket Price

SOLUTION: Selling tickets will not only support you with extra cash, but it’s also liberating. When you sell tickets, you no longer depend so much on sponsorship. Events that start selling tickets are more attractive to sponsors, it is less risky, and it is clear that organizing team is very responsible.

The key here is to set good ticket pricing, chances are, your attendees have some events to choose from—so how much do their other options cost? Check out your local listings to see what else is happening in your area around the time of your event and research past ticket prices for similar events. Put yourself in event-goers shoes, and ask how your headliner, your venue, or your host city measure up to the competition.  

6) Failing To Understand The Customers Needs

SOLUTION: Before organizing an event, you must spend more time interviewing their customers (attendees) and understand their needs to attend the event. This can help you decide on the event themes, number of attendees expected, prizes, etc.

Another thought if you already start the planning to host a pre-event bootcamp, this is will give you the opportunity to meet your customer and market your event.








Sponsorship in Action: How Blazing and SoftLayer Work Together

Cofounders Felipe Aramburu and Rodrigo Aramburu are building a real time data science platform. Blazing, a Techstars alumni (Boulder ’15), handles the configuring, tuning, and optimizing of servers so that data scientists can do what they do best: design experiments and analyze data. We chatted with the Blazing team to learn how they’ve worked in partnership with SoftLayer, a global sponsor of Techstars accelerator programs. SoftLayer’s Catalyst Startup Program provides entrepreneurs with infrastructure and support to scale their companies.

Sponsorship in Action - Blazing and SoftLayer

Q: Why did you start Blazing?

We were doing data science consulting, and on one project with the Peruvian government we received a massive data set. Each query would take hours, so we built V0 of Blazing, and brought that down to seconds. That’s when we knew we had something different—all from using the video graphics card (GPU).

Q: What has Blazing been up to since going through the Techstars Boulder 2015 program?

A lot. We’ve launched a fully redesigned web application, added over a dozen users representing 6 large enterprise organizations, expanded the functionality of our platform to support deep learning, and much more.

Q: How did Blazing discover—and choose to develop a partnership with—SoftLayer?

We were aware of SoftLayer’s offerings before Techstars, but with the Catalyst program we were able to truly test and iterate over their servers to find what worked best for us.

Q: What do you think sets SoftLayer apart?

Great customer support and the bare metal nature of SoftLayer’s servers means we can get any configuration we need very quickly. Not only that, but they have allowed us to use cutting edge hardware that we really had trouble finding on other cloud providers. Who else can give you 12 raided SSDs, two tesla K80’s, and 48 cores on one rig with an uptime of a few hours?

The SoftLayer team was also willing to spend time with us to both understand our architecture and explain the SoftLayer architecture so that we made sure we got the best tools possible. It feels more like a concierge service than other cloud providers. When you are making a simple web application this level of service isn’t as important, but if you are trying to squeeze every drop of performance, like we are, this help is tremendous.

Q: Do you have any advice for other founders who want to build good relationships with their platform/hosting providers?

Understand each other’s value proposition and goals. We found ourselves with this huge need for very specific servers (with GPUs), and SoftLayer was able to effectively support us from day one.

The next most important piece of advice is to give back. I’m a huge proponent of SoftLayer to my fellow entrepreneurs, advisors, and investors. SoftLayer knows this as we support each other.

Q: What is the latest at Blazing?

Come January 2016 we’ll be launching a new version of our application. More details to come, but we have upgraded the code editor, included tutorials of running massive data analyses on our open data sets (SEC and World Bank data), all running on our massive GPUs rigs with SoftLayer!

You can follow @blazingdb, @CatalystSL and @softlayer on Twitter.








Sponsor Startup Weekend Sheffield

Sponsor-Us-Circle-260x260

 

 

 

 


Interested in Sponsoring Startup Weekend Sheffield for Global Startup Battle 2015?

Our November event falls during Global Entrepreneurship Week and will be our seventh Startup Weekend in Sheffield. This year, we’re moving venue to The Electric Works in the city centre just a stone’s throw away from the train station and we’re increasing our capacity to 75.

Startup Weekend is aimed at developers, designers, marketers, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. They are people who love to create and build. They are people who make things happen.

We also engage external support providers in the form of coaches, judges and speakers. Their job titles usually include things like Serial Entrepreneur, Digital Strategist, Investor, Software Engineer, and UX/UI Designer among others.

This is an opportunity for you to reach and meet passionate entrepreneurs who are either actively working in or on a startup, who are thinking of starting a new business or who have a strong interest in startups and the startup ecosystem. The potential reach is particularly large for this event as it ties into Global Startup Battle.

Global Startup Battle is:

  • The biggest startup competition in the universe
  • More than 250 events and programs over 10 days
  • Where over 30,000 entrepreneurs from over 100 countries rally together in the name of innovation and community each year
  • Recognized as a premier Global Entrepreneurship Week event
  • A life changing event with a legacy of high performing, long lasting teams emerging

A look back at 2014:

  • 236 events in 83 countries
  • 1.5 million hours of work on innovations, companies, and technology
  • 1.425 million tweets in 10 days
  • 1.3 billion eyeballs
  • 1,000 video entries and over 321,000 votes
  • 3,200 new startup teams

2014 Infographic

Earlier this year, we successfully crowdfunded Startup Weekend:Music and Literature in Sheffield, raising £3000 from over 70 backers, including members of the startup community, previous attendees and local and national companies.

Get in touch with Samantha (@SamanthaJDeakin) if you are interested in sponsoring the next Startup Weekend.

Current sponsors include: TechNorth, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, and Electric Works. See full list.


Packages available:

Silver (Meal) – £500 (7 available)
Sponsor either all breakfasts, all coffee, or an individual lunch or dinner meal.

  • Company name/logo listed on the website
  • Public thanks sent out on Twitter/FB and in the wrap-up email
  • Thank you & recognition during the meal you sponsor
  • Thank you during the facilitator presentation sessions on Friday and Sunday
  • Opportunity to display a sign on the food table
  • Hand out materials, swag, and/or other related materials (perfect for companies looking to advertise their job vacancies)
  • 2 free tickets to Startup Weekend Sheffield (November event)
  • Invitation to the presentation evening on Sunday

 Gold – £750 (3 available)

  • Identified in all media materials for Startup Weekend Sheffield
  • Company name/logo listed on website 
  • Public thanks sent out on Twitter/FB and in the wrap-up email
  • Thank you during the facilitator presentation sessions on Friday and Sunday
  • Opportunity to place a banner stand at the event
  • Hand out materials, swag and/or other related materials
  • 3 free tickets to Startup Weekend Sheffield (November event)
  • Invitation to the presentation evening on Sunday

Platinum – £1000 (2 1 available)

  • Custom survey of the Sheffield Startup Weekend community
  • Invitation for a guest blog post on the website 
  • Offer a prize to an individual via raffle/vote. (e.g. iPhone, netbook, software)
  • All benefits of Gold Sponsorship

Premier  – £2000 (1 available)

  • Invitation to address the attendees for 3 minutes
  • Invited to set up a booth for your product/service during the event
  • All benefits of Platinum Sponsorship

Want to reach out but don’t see the perfect package for you? Get in touch and we’ll create something from scratch.

Get in touch with Samantha (@SamanthaJDeakin) if you are interested in sponsoring the next Startup Weekend.








Startup Weekend South Florida Sponsorship Levels (Nov 11-13, 2016)

First off, thank you for your interest in Startup Weekend South Florida – November 11-13, 2016.

Many potential sponsors may have questions about the weekend, so we’ve put together a little information below that explains Startup Weekend South Florida, a few of the potential benefits and the currently available sponsorship packages

What is Startup Weekend South Florida ?

Startup Weekend South Florida is a 54-hour weekend event, during which groups of developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and work to develop a working prototype, demo, or presentation by Sunday evening.

What’s the benefit for the participants?

The participants come from all walks of technology, so they get to experience what needs to be completed and considered in starting up a company, something they don’t usually get in their normal 9-to-5 jobs. This experience will allow to see their role in the company process in a different light, and many of the participants are entrepreneurial themselves, so they might learn from the weekend and start their own companies.

What’s the benefit for the sponsors?

It depends on the sponsor. Some see this as a way to provide entrepreneurial students and faculty members access to great resources and an opportunity to make their big ideas a reality. Some are using Startup Weekend South Florida sponsorship to educate potential clients and technology developers on the advantages of using their services or products. Other sponsors are doing it for community outreach and to help them achieve their organizational goals. In any case, all money generated goes to the cost of supporting the event and the South Florida startup ecosystem.

SPONSORSHIP LEVELS

Platinum Level Sponsor ($5,000)  (limited to 4 total)

  • Invitation for a guest blog post on Startup Weekend South Florida website
  • Offer a sponsor provided prize to a team or individual via raffle/vote. (eg. Scholarship, iPhone, netbook, software)
  • All benefits of the Gold Sponsorship
  • Ten tickets to the event to give to participants

Gold Level Sponsor ($2500)

  • Identified in media materials for Startup Weekend South Florida
  • Thank you & recognition on social media posts before and during the event
  • Company name/logo listed on Startup Weekend South Florida website
  • Thank you & recognition during Startup Weekend South Florida event
  • Opportunity to place sponsor provided banner stands or banners at the event
  • Hand out materials, swag, other relevant materials
  • Five tickets to the event to give to participants

Silver Level Sponsor ($1500) 

  • Company name/logo listed on Startup Weekend South Florida website
  • Thank you & recognition on social media post
  • Company name/logo displayed on a banner stand/sign at the food table
  • Hand out materials, swag, other relevant materials

Bronze Level Sponsor ($500) 

  • Small company name/logo listed on Startup Weekend South Florida website
  • Thank you & recognition on social media post
  • Hand out materials, swag, other relevant materials

Ecosystem Partner ($250) 

  • Company name/logo listed on Startup Weekend South Florida website

Sponsor An Entrepreneur ($100)

  • Open registration for one entrepreneur of your choice or we will select.
  • We will ensure that one lucky entrepreneur will get fed, meet new people, learn a ton, and hopefully create a successful startup!
  • Recognition on the Startup Weekend South Florida website
  • Recognition at the Opening Event on Friday and Closing Event on Sunday

Contributing Level Sponsor (in-kind or Price Varies By Contribution)

  • Help Support Startup Weekend South Florida with Press Coverage, Marketing, Swag, Venues, Food, Beer, Software, Discounts….. Anything that the community will benefit from!

Ready to become a Sponsor or need something really custom?

For more Information contact Jeff Brown or Alex de Carvalho Thanks for bering AWESOME!

 

 

 








Sponsorship in Action: MakersKit and American Airlines

We recently chatted with Mike Stone, cofounder of MakersKit, a Techstars alumni (NYC ‘14). MakersKit was founded to inspire creativity. The company shares its favorite ideas and offers the best tools and supplies to make DIY a blast. While MakersKit was in the Techstars program in New York City, they met and partnered with American Airlines, a global sponsor of Techstars. Under their Innovators Initiative, American Airlines has been supporting Techstars companies within all of our US-based programs with marketing opportunities, connections, travel grants since 2013.

Want to learn more about how startups can build marketing partnerships with corporations? Continue reading…

MakersKit - Sponsorship in Action

What has MakersKit been up to since going through the Techstars NYC 2014 program?

It has been a crazy year, in the very best way possible.

Before Techstars, it was just the two of us working out of my apartment. And now, a year later, we’ve created nearly fifty new jobs and our products are available in over 5,000 stores with retail partners including Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma. We’ve partnered with major brands like National Geographic, Macy’s and TOMS helping them use digital media to connect with millennials. The Techstars program helped us figure out our secret sauce, and now we’re helping brands create an experience by doing what we do best.

What is our secret sauce? We use digital media to teach new skills in an entertaining way, it’s all about the experience. We’re good at it because we’re authentic, our team is made up of makers and doers. Are we the best at what we do? I think we are, as do the brands that are working with us. Awesome brands like MakerBot, LittleBits, Raspberry Pi, and Bare Conductive are made more mainstream and accessible by partnering with us.

How did MakersKit discover—and choose to develop a partnership with—American Airlines?

American Airlines was one of the many sponsors of our Techstars program in NYC, but to us they stood out by being the most helpful. Through their Business Extra program, we received travel grants and benefits because of their partnership with Techstars. We travel, a lot. The three month program was right in the middle of our national book tour in partnership with Macy’s, and every flight we took was with American. The Business Extra program has great perks and the Admirals Club lounges don’t hurt either. Complimentary cocktails? Yes, please

MakersKit was featured in American Airlines’ American Way in-flight magazine. How did that happen? And what were the results of that feature?

Any press is good press, but being featured in American Way is great press. They feature one up and coming startup every month in their “Innovators” article. We honestly didn’t know what to expect to come out of the article at first, but then the calls started to come in, “I read about you while on a flight to…” which would lead to “how many containers can you ship”… not digital containers, but freight containers you can fit a couple houses into.

Oh, and it also caught the attention of Home Depot, who happens to have over 2,000 stores.

MakersKit team - sponsorship in actionWhat is the latest at MakersKit?

We’re publishing our second book, opening up pop-up stores in LA, Austin, NYC, Chicago and Seattle, launching NatGeo by MakersKit, and partnered up with TOMS #TOMSxMakersKit. We also won first place Content Technology Company at Las Vegas at SXSW V2V.

Do you have any advice for other founders who want to leverage corporations for marketing and business development opportunities?

Do it. Seriously.

Partnerships and deals with major companies give us a step up over our competitors. Find out what you do better than anyone else, and leverage that to get you things that even money can’t buy. Find brands that align with your mission or customer base, it basically has to make sense for both of you. NatGeo is ranked #1 among social publishers so why would they ever partner with a startup like us? Long story short, there’s something we do better than any other company, too. MakersKit has the largest US and Canadian retail distribution in our industry, something every brand would love to leverage by partnering with us.

 

You can follow @MakersKit and @AmericanAir on Twitter.








Sponsorship in Action: Fashion Metric and Rackspace

We recently spoke with Morgan Linton, cofounder of Fashion Metric, a Techstars in Austin company. Fashion Metric takes the guesswork out of sizing. The company provides a big data SaaS solution for apparel retailers and brands to gather intelligence about their customers and personalize the online apparel shopping experience, helping customers get measured for custom clothing or select the best ready-to-wear size.

Morgan shares about the “Fanatical Support®” that Rackspace, a sponsor of Techstars, provided to Fashion Metric at a crucial moment. Rackspace recently interviewed Morgan (see more here), and you can watch the video below:


 

How did Fashion Metric discover – and choose to work with – Rackspace?

We have known about Rackspace for quite some time and decided to work with them when we first started our company back in 2012. It was the concept of “Fanatical Support®” that initially inspired us to give Rackspace a shot.

 

In your opinion, what makes Rackspace unique?

Without a doubt what makes Rackspace unique is their support. We initially thought that Fanatical Support® sounded great, but was probably just a marketing ploy. After our first month with Rackspace, we realized that the support is like no other. It really is fanatical.

What impressed me the most was when I called Rackspace with a question about a Git issue we were having. I had just made a fatal coding error and was unable to rollback my changes. Even though I knew this wasn’t something Rackspace support was expected to cover, I thought I’d ask them about it.

Before I knew it I was on the phone with a Git pro who told me while that while they officially didn’t provide this kind of support, they still wanted to help. In the end he helped me solve the problem quickly. He literally saved the day. After that I was convinced that Fanatical Support® is a real thing.

 

Do you have any advice for other founders who want to build good relationships with their platform/hosting providers?

Techstars does a great job of connecting founders with people other companies who are there to help founders, including Techstars’ sponsors. These companies will go above and beyond to make sure founders have a truly exceptional experience.

I consider Adam Hansen from Rackspace to be a friend. Along with helping me get everything right at Rackspace, he has also sent new clients our way. I’d encourage other founders not to think of the sponsors as service providers, but rather to think of them as people. That changes everything.

Morgan Linton and Daina Linton - FashionMetric
Morgan Linton and Daina Linton, cofounders of FashionMetric

 

Fashion Metric sits squarely in the eCommerce world. What’s most frustrating about eCommerce right now? Most exciting?

The most frustrating thing for apparel eCommerce retailers is low conversion rates and high return rates. We built Fashion Metric to make a major impact in both of these areas. We know that people want to buy clothes online, but at the same time they want to try them on first to make sure they fit. We empower them to do that without going into a physical store.

The most exciting thing about the eCommerce world is the shift to mobile. More people are shopping from mobile phones and tablets. While this creates more challenges for apparel retailers, it also creates new opportunities to engage customers online like never before.

 

What’s the latest at Fashion Metric?

At Fashion Metric it’s about more than building a great product—it’s about working with incredibly passionate people who want to change the world. While it might sound cliche, that’s our goal: we want to fundamentally change the way people buy clothes both online and in-store.

We’re also attracting clients who want to engage their customers in an entirely new way. In 2015 we’ll be working with some of the most forward-thinking and innovative apparel retailers in the world. For us, the combination of the best retailers and the best team is nothing short of pure magic.

We recently moved the company from Los Angeles to Austin, and we’ve hired some amazing new team members in the last two months. It’s an incredibly exciting time for us and we couldn’t be more excited for the journey ahead! Visit fashionmetric.com to request a demo—we’ll show you FashionMetric in action.


You can follow @FashionMetric and @rackspace on Twitter.

You can read other stories in our Sponsorship in Action series here.

 








Sponsorship in Action: DataRobot and AWS

Sponsorship in Action: DataRobot and AWS
Huy Le, Operations Director at DataRobot, shares tips on choosing a hosting platform & talks about why the company chose to work with AWS.

Huy Le, Operations Director of DataRobot, talked to us about how the company has worked with Amazon Web Services. He also offers great advice for startups that are faced with choosing a hosting platform. DataRobot, a Techstars Cloud company, helps data scientists of all experience levels build and deploy better predictive models. AWS Startups is a sponsor of Techstars and helps startups scale quickly, go to market faster, control costs, and stay lean.

How did DataRobot discover and then choose to work with AWS?

We connected with AWS at Techstars Cloud Class of 2013 in San Antonio. We received hosting credits through the AWS Activate program, a free program with resources for startups to get the most out of AWS.

AWS was a natural choice for us. One of the products AWS offers caught our interest: their Spot Instance offering. Using Spot Instances is like bidding for a product on eBay. You choose the server type you want to use and set the highest price you’re willing to pay. If there are servers with prices at or below your set price, you use the server and pay the current market price. Most of the time, the market price is just a fraction of the regular on-demand price.

Our application does a lot of number crunching. With Spot Instances our application can do massive number crunching at a fraction of the usual cost.

AWS’s wide range of server types and sizes was attractive, too. We use servers as small as t1.micro, which cost about $15 per month to run; and servers as large as r3.8x, which cost over $2,000 per month to run. AWS has a server size for every kind of need.

 

How have DataRobot and AWS worked together?

AWS’ SPOT team and our account manager have been instrumental in us making the best use of AWS Spot Instances. The SPOT team visited our office to learn about our application and advised us how to get the most out of Spot Instances and keep costs low. Our account manager also analyzed our overall usage and suggested cost-saving strategies. Overall, we have really benefited from the advice and support AWS has provided.

 

What do you think sets AWS apart?

A customer-centric philosophy sets AWS apart. When the customers speak, they listen—and they act on customer feedback. They are about helping customers succeed.

For example, I once experienced database performance issues. I called my contact at AWS and asked if there were other options to get faster storage systems. He told me that he had many other customers requesting better storage systems too, and AWS was working to fulfill those customer demands. About six months later, my contact reached out with news that AWS had just announced a better storage system. I was thrilled.

Another thing that sets AWS apart is its ability to provide additional capacity as soon as it’s requested. At times, we’ve needed our capacity limit increased by thousands of servers. AWS has been able to do that on the same or next business day each time. I’ve made similar requests with other service providers. It would take those providers more than a week to fulfill the request, and then the request would be only partially fulfilled.

 

Do you have any advice for other founders who want to build good relationships with their platform/hosting providers?

In short, you want a service platform that is scalable and secure, and you want to have a provider who is ready to assist you whenever you need help. Here’s my advice:

Select the right service provider from the beginning. Don’t put this off until you’re ready for customers. Every service platform is different. You’ll want to work with the same platform from the beginning so you don’t waste your time learning new platforms as your needs change.

Security needs to be the top criterion. Choose a service provider that has granular access control to your cloud account, so that you can grant different levels of access to employees on an as-needed basis.

Choose a provider that offers three key features:

  • A wide range of server selections. Start with a small server and scale up as needed. Test your product on different, larger servers as you gain more users and prepare for product launch.
  • Autoscale support. Ideally, you want your platform to automatically scale as load demand fluctuates. For consumer or social applications, expect to have bursts of traffic.
  • PCI compliance and hardware encryption support if your product will be handling payments. And make sure you meet the additional compliance requirements for your specific product. If you’ll be using health care data, for example, you want a server provider that is HIPAA compliant.

What’s currently going on in DataRobot’s world?

We have great success with our private beta customers. We’re working relentlessly to polish the product and are excited to release it at the beginning of 2015. Anyone working on predictive analytics who wants to build better models faster is invited to sign up for beta access at datarobot.com. (We’ll provide VIP access to early sign ups.)

We’re ramping up head count as we get ready for public launch. Python and JavaScript developers, testing automation engineers, DevOps engineers, software engineers with expertise in machine learning, data scientists, and many other roles are open. We have over 30 open positions, ranging from junior to senior levels. Check our Careers page to learn more.


You can follow @DataRobot and @AWSstartups on Twitter.

You can read other stories in our Sponsorship in Action series here.








Sponsorship in Action: PivotDesk and Silicon Valley Bank

We recently spoke with David Mandell, cofounder and CEO of PivotDesk, a Techstars in Boulder 2012 company. PivotDesk helps startups that need space find host companies that have space.

David talks about the company’s relationship with Silicon Valley Bank. SVB  is banking the world’s most innovative companies, and has been a sponsor partner of Techstars for nearly four years.

David Mandell of PivotDesk talks about partnership with SVB
David Mandell, CEO of PivotDesk, and Jared Polis, a cofounder of Techstars, chat at the PivotDesk office. Photo courtesy PivotDesk.

How did PivotDesk meet SVB?

I’ve been working with Silicon Valley Bank for more than ten years. First with other startups, and now with PivotDesk.

How have PivotDesk and SVB worked together?

They’ve been a great networking and business development partner. There are really three key ways that SVB has helped PivotDesk:

First, they understand the needs and dynamics of a startup. There are no weird reactions to what we’ve got going on at the company because they understand startups from a market perspective and a growth perspective.

The second way they’ve been helpful to us is through access to their network. SVB’s clients are potential clients for us as well. So our partners at SVB have done their best to cross geographies to introduce us to others where it makes sense. The are a great business development partner to us.

Third, they put a spotlight on us. They invite us to contribute to conversations that are a huge benefit to a company at our stage. As an example, SVB kindly hosted our team for SXSW – saving us on expensive hotel rooms and connecting us with contacts who could really help us move the needle forward. One of the best parts? SVB’s CEO joined us for dinner and gave us time to pick his brain. It’s not too often that a company like SVB gives you such direct access to their resources and we’re thankful for it.

Sponsorship in Action- PivotDesk and SVB
The SVB Midday Hangout at SXSW 2014. Photo courtesy Adam Sams/SVB

What do you think sets Silicon Valley Bank apart?

I’m not pushing a huge rock up a steep hill every time I talk with my banker. SVB understands startups. There are no weird reactions when I tell them what’s going on in my company: from cash flow, to banking account structure, to the speed of change in a startup—they get it.

They also have relationships across the VC community and understand how venture capitalists operate, which makes our banking easier. I don’t have to explain the process to them.

Do you have any advice for other founders who want to build good relationships with their banking partners?

Look at your banker as a partner. The more your banker understands you, your business, and how your business functions, the better they can serve you. If you—whether you’re the CEO or CFO—don’t make the effort to help that relationship, a productive relationship is not going to happen.

What’s the latest and greatest in the PivotDesk world?

This summer, we released a product called Cultivate that leverages the PivotDesk marketplace to enable commercial real estate brokers to help growing businesses avoid the static nature of traditional office space and find solutions that make sense for their needs today.

Cultivate means brokers no longer have to say no to servicing smaller clients. Instead, the platform allows them to find flexible space for growing businesses, help offset costs for larger businesses with extra space and manage their relationships with these businesses as they grow and change over time.

 

You can follow @PivotDesk and @SVB_Financial on Twitter.