Capital Factory, a seed stage technology accelerator based in Austin, announced five companies that will participate in the 2010 program this summer. About 200 companies applied for the program, which provides cash, mentorship, and services to those who are selected. The 10-week program culminates in a Demo Day where the companies have the opportunity to showcase their ideas in front of investors and other entrepreneurs.
Many people ask about the selection process. How do you go about picking the companies? It wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of the program mentors. With their help, we make a first pass at all the applicants to identify those that would most likely benefit from the program, have a good idea, and have put together a solid team. This year, that short list consisted of about 35 companies. With a smaller list, we dive the next level deeper into the people behind the company, the progress they have made to date, and the market potential for their company. That list got cut in half, and we met with about 15 companies either in person in Austin, or via videoconference. To make the final decision, we meet with all the mentors to discuss what we know about each company, and to pick which ones we want in the program.
I have to say that one of the interesting things about this whole process is the talented people we met. When you meet with company after company, it’s easy to see how personalities and skills from one company might be better suited and aligned with another company. It sounds so simple to re-arrange people for success. But it really isn’t. If you have passion for your idea, and you’re the co-founder of a company, it’s hard to just walk away and join another company that is doing something completely different.
One of the hard parts about this program is that sometimes you find people that are working on incredibly interesting things, but none of us can figure out how to actually make money doing it. It would be an incredibly fun company to work with, and the people who have started it are top notch, but it’s just not a business. The hardest part is saying “no” to a situation that you know will be a fun journey.
I haven’t mentioned the companies themselves yet. You can find their names in our press release and on our website. The point of this whole milestone is not who these companies are, but what they will become. Our descriptions of them are purposefully vague because they are in the earliest stages of formation, and their focus will probably change over time. By the time they launch at Demo Day, their focus may be substantially different than today. Actually, let’s hope that it is! Because that means they have become closer to their customers and the people whose problems they are solving. It means they have let the market lead them to the solution, and they have iterated in an effort to find success.
I hope to see you at Demo Day on September 8th in Austin, Texas!