I still remember the day that Josh pulled a group of us together in his kitchen and started to talk about the idea of a new kind of accelerator - a little bit like a combination of Y-Combinator and Techstars, but also uniquely Austin. The five of us were all experienced entrepreneurs and we wanted to create something that we would want to join - the basic guiding spirit was "entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs."
I really didn't know what I was getting into at the time, but soon enough, I signed up to become one of the original mentors. Next we were picking the original cohort companies, and writing the first checks. It was all very organic - our intention was to adapt to the needs of those first companies, while also deciding how to have the biggest possible impact on Austin. The initial cohorts showed us that start-ups don't evolve in a neat linear path in a 10 week program; rather, we needed to relax the time constraint to let each company find it's natural pace. If we were going to have a longer program, we would need work space - and the idea of combining co-working with an accelerator was born. Soon we added our first 25,000 square feet of office space.
About that time, we also realized that community was a critical element to start-up success. Because we had the space AND we wanted to foster a robust community, we began to sponsor our own events as well as let others use our space to host theirs. This helped expose more people to Capital Factory in a really positive way - it was a win for everyone. Once we had community, the next obvious hurdle for our start-ups was access to capital - so we started a fund.
What I love best about Capital Factory is that it has grown organically to meet the needs of the community. It's different from other Accelerators in the way it combines the pieces - co-working space, Accelerator program and a fund - all in one place. Capital Factory is itself a start-up and models the way that we think start-ups should be developed - i.e. Find a real need, develop and evolve a solution that meets that need, and create a business model that stands the test of time. It's inspiring to see how the community has come together and evolved so rapidly. I'm honored to be a part of it.