It was the Spring of 2009, and we were recruiting our very first class of companies at Capital Factory. We had a preference for helping out Austin-based companies, but about 350 applications came in from all over the world. After a lot of filtering, we had about 12 companies that were really intriguing and made the finals. From those, we hoped to pick at least 3, hopefully 5, and maybe 7 if we found enough that we liked. One of those finalist companies was a group of math nerds from the University of Texas who called themselves InfoChimps.
The interview was rough. Perhaps rougher than most of the finalist interviews. The founders argued between themselves. We weren’t sure what business they were actually in. Neither were they. We weren’t sure who their first 5 customers could potentially be. Neither did they. They kept talking about “big data” and tools with crazy names like Hadoop and Cassandra. Four years later all this is commonplace, but back then the tools were fresh and this team was on the leading edge of the big data movement.
None of us as mentors had any experience with big data, so it was hard to evaluate the potential of the company. As a group of individuals forming Capital Factory, we didn’t have researchers that could dig up market metrics for us and educate us on the unknown. The decision to pass made sense at the time.
After deciding not to admit them into the Capital Factory program, they continued to progress and consistently reach milestone achievements. They landed a big round of capital from DFJ Mercury. New customers, better products, more funding. Finally, a satisfying acquisition by CSC yesterday. You can read their blog post about the transaction.