To put it bluntly, the initial wave of Jumpstart Foundry was a wild and unforgettable ride.
As a founding member of JSF, I enjoyed front-row seating while our group of 20 wrestled with ways to expand startup activity in Nashville and then turn the fund into a successful operation with seven investments in new and ambitious entrepreneurs.
From the lively and sometimes heated discussions on our next investments to the reviews of the portfolio’s progress to the move to our new model, I can honestly say it was all worth the time and effort. As we enter 2011, I’d like to take a moment and encourage you to get involved as a JSF Angel or a Mentor.
As much fun it was to review all of the applications and eventually select companies to receive our jumpstart capital, by far the most rewarding part of JSF 2010 was having the opportunity to be a direct mentor and investor in splitsecnd (JSF’s second overall investment), a company bringing automatic crash notification to every car on the road.
I still remember Chris and Will’s presentation to JSF on “Wreck Watch.” I think back to our questions and concerns about their model and the vote to take on a chance that the algorithm might be the basis of groundbreaking product for the automotive industry. And I recall becoming one of the three JSF founders who would advise these recent college graduates, helping them refine and shape their plan toward building a sustainable business.
Those first meetings in which we further explored the concept and considered the market were sometimes frustrating. At times, it felt like we were all dealing with a never-ending circular reference in an Excel spreadsheet, and I still laugh when I think about the scrambled, whiteboard drawing of all the possible product ideas.
But, out of those meetings and off that board came the eventual direction for the company, which now resides at Nashville Entrepreneur Center (our home for 2011 JSF companies), pitches for a large capital raise and negotiates with potential partners across the country.
I’m proud to have been along for the journey of helping new entrepreneurs execute on all the details it takes to jumpstart a company and move rapidly in polishing their “investable story.” It was gratifying and beyond cool to see splitsecnd’s idea get worldwide market validation at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. OnStar, GM’s longstanding telematics service, announced plans to expand to all cars on the road. And here’s splitsecnd positioned with a more affordable and easier to install product. Not bad for $15,000.
So, why should you get involved? The better question is: why wouldn’t you get involved?
There are some extremely talented people about to receive their first investment from the 2011 JSF Angels. You could be a part of that group.
Those budding entrepreneurs and companies will need mentors. You could be a part of that group.
Or, you could go all in and be both an angel and a mentor. Either way, trust me when I say you won’t regret getting on board. You’ll learn a lot. You’ll definitely laugh a lot. Maybe you’ll make some money.
But, most importantly, you’ll be involved in a terrific initiative for our community and region. I hope to see you at our first 2011 JSF sessions.