How many people do you know that have had an idea that they thought will change the world?
Countless times, we’ve heard everyday folks with a small idea or dream try to change the ways things are done. Many of them have experienced a problem first hand that they can’t handle anymore! They set out to create a solution.
These aspiring entrepreneurs are faced with a tough challenge. Work their full time day job and try to moonlight their idea on the side. It’s a difficult route. Many people have families, after work activities or commitments that make it even harder to pursue their idea.
It’s a predictable scenario where the majority of individuals will fail. Not due to a lack of intelligence, perseverance or size of the opportunity, but typically to burnout. Getting an idea to snowball into something of value takes a lot of work. Especially time. And to be able to commit time to a new venture, means you have to be able to dedicate your resources and go all in.
But how does someone turn an idea into a full time adventure?
In communities all around the world, individuals in scenarios like this are starting to group together and find ways to do such a thing. A lot of times, you’ll see people set up shop at coworking spaces where freelancers, internet entrepreneurs or people looking to work in a fun environment get together. This helps not only the entrepreneurs, but also the community. Building a sustainable entrepreneurial environment and ecosystem is one of the most impactful things that can set a community up for strong economic activity for years to come.
It’s easy to be in a location that has excelled in a specific industry, like Silicon Valley is to internet startups. But what about the other majority of places that maybe just haven’t peaked to their potential. That’s where the modern day startup ecosystem visionaries come in to play.
I was fortunate enough to interview, Robb Kunz, of BoomStartup in Utah. Robb is the epitome of an entrepreneur who is on a mission for the greater good of his community in Salt Lake City and beyond. One would think that one successful venture would be enough for a career. Well, the true test of an entrepreneur is one who gives back to his community. We call it ‘Entrepreneurial Karma’. After years of running his own successful internet company, Robb decided to give back. He chose to help his fellow entrepreneurs by providing the mentorship and capital needed to get them up and running.
Robb filled me in on the most important reasons why BoomStartup was created. He says, “The first was to provide entrepreneurs/founders a better way to start a company and get it funded; Second, to provide investors a better vehicle to fund startups whilst at the same time providing them a more diverse investment strategy across this high risk investment “class”.
Not only does Robb care deeply about entrepreneurs and angel investors, but he also has a mission to build a better ecosystem across the entire state of Utah. The vision behind BoomStartup is to continue building a thriving community and launch more vertical-focused accelerators with enterprise partners that they have across the state.
They have been fortunate to be a part of the local tech scene in Salt Lake City. Robb says the community is “Active, vibrant, and scaling. Clearly, Salt Lake City and most all our major cities across the state are experiencing explosive entrepreneurial growth.”
Image courtesy @countylemonade on Flickr
As a result of this tremendous growth in developing new ventures, BoomStartup can only accept a limited number of portfolio companies each new cycle. Typically, they have two separate batches each year and invest $20,000 in exchange for .06% equity in each company. The program currently has open applications and is accepting them here until April 11th.
BoomStartup boasts a list of over 50 experienced mentors and runs a hands on program that has been listed as a Top 15 Accelerator in the country. With many other accelerators popping up (even in larger markets), Robb hasn’t ever felt like they have had to “compete” vs other startup accelerators across the country. He says, “We were a Charter Member of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) http://gan.co/ along with TechStars and 7 other Accelerators to help share standards, best practices, applications and experiences to build a stronger global accelerator network around the world.” The response to BoomStartup has been exceptional in the Utah area. With more startup companies applying year over year, the brand is seeing good validation.
Once you’re in the program, it’s 3 months of hard work to bring your product to market.
“Companies in the program find ways to separate themselves usually with traction” Robb says. “We see this in three forms; revenue, users or investor funding- all three are good!”
Even though as an entrepreneur you may feel like you got the upper hand, you still need to be careful with what you get yourself into.
Robb says, “When we started BoomStartup more than four years ago, there were only 15 or so Tech Accelerators, and now we understand there are more than 1500..so thats 10x growth. Entrepreneurs/Founders should be careful and do their due diligence before the apply to an Accelerator….just like Investors do before investing!
In order to win the game you must surround yourself with a community that is willing to help you grow. Next time you’re sitting alone in a coffee shop working on your big idea, consider applying for a startup accelerator like BoomStartup and increase your odds of success.