- Why is it called Founders Co-op?
- We’re entrepreneurs first, investors second, and we love working with passionate founders to create great companies. We think that the Pacific Northwest needs to offer a more supportive and open environment for new startups and want Founders Co-op to be a driving force in realizing that change. We also believe that small-company founders form a natural community. By actively fostering this community within our family of funded companies, we believe we can reduce risk and accelerate success for every founder we work with, with the welcome side-effects of having fun and building friendships among a select group of like-minded entrepreneurs.
- Who’s behind Founders Co-op?
- The co-op is managed by Andy and Chris, experienced serial entrepreneurs with a passion for helping founders realize their dreams. Most of our Limited Partners and Mentors are also successful founders or early executives from companies like Amazon, Avenue A/aQuantive, All Star Directories, Blue Nile, Demand Media, Expedia, Feedburner, I Can Haz Cheezburger, McCaw Cellular, Microsoft, Stamps.com and WhitePages.com. Collectively, we offer a unique “peer-to-peer” source of investment dollars, advice and support for like-minded entrepreneurs.
- How do you choose which companies to fund?
- We’re looking for passionate founders who can both envision and create products that solve real problems for their customers. Some of the things we love to see are:
a) small (2-3 person) founding teams, including at least one genius software engineer,
b) focus on a specific customer segment with real pain and the ability to pay to make it go away
c) clear and credible ideas for acquiring customers and generating cash, and
d) a bootstrapper’s passion for managing expenses and driving revenue.
- How much funding do Founders Co-Op companies receive?
- Our investments range from $50,000 to $250,000 depending on your needs, your idea and your team. Whatever the dollar amount, our goal is to offer the support you need to get off the ground. Most important, Founders Co-op companies gain access to an incredible community of experienced founders, entrepreneurs and investors who are prepared to roll up their sleeves to help make you successful.
- How can we get funded after our initial Founders Co-op investment?
- We provide the seed funding to get you going, but you may well need more funding to help your business grow. As soon as your team has made significant progress with product, customers and revenue, we’ll connect you with angel investors and venture capitalists with a proven track record funding your kind of business. We’ll coach you so you’re as effective as possible, and do everything we can do to help get you follow-on funding. We may also provide additional funding ourselves in some cases.
- Tell me more about the networking and mentorship opportunities you offer.
- In addition to the expertise found within the partnership itself, Andy, Chris and the other co-op investors stand ready to help connect funded companies to their extended networks of leaders in technology, media and venture capital for recruiting, business development, financing or other strategic advice. At least once a month we also organize an event for our companies, ranging from “open coffee” networking events to private dinners and discussion sessions with successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, legal experts, and venture capitalists. Generally speaking, these are informal events that give you plenty of time to interact with mentors and other founders personally.
- I’ve heard that you require your portfolio companies to work from your offices, is that true?
- Not exactly. We offer low-cost, month-to-month office space and basic infrastructure to all funded companies on a first come, first served basis. The companies that work in-house say they like it, but funded companies are not required to work from our space.