Building our team: joining the TechStars family
It’s all about relationships
At our core, our company is about relationships. Relationships with our customers. Helping our customers build relationships with their customers.
We’ve built our team based on our relationships – we’ve known each other a long time, trust each other and believe in one another. The team we’re building is essential to executing on our vision. At the very beginning, it was because of our team that we knew that what we were working on was important. With Andrew’s experience building mobile apps and Mike’s experience building tools for mobile app developers, we’d viscerally felt the major deficiency of the app store model:
App stores, while awesome for distributing your app, are the LAST place you want to have a customer conversation.
Over and over again we heard from our friends and colleagues that ratings & reviews were infuriating. Developers didn’t understand why they weren’t getting any customer information and as it became obvious that the app stores weren’t in the business of providing them with relationship management tools, people we knew and trusted started to fill our notebooks with their wishlists.
Our team is much more than who works here
We’ve been fortunate to assemble a great team working on our product and building our company, but that’s just a piece of the team we’re putting together. Our customers are our team members. We want to involve them in what we’re building, listen to them deeply and work to build effective tools for them to talk with their customers.
As we have grown, we’ve had the pleasure of building relationships with folks who wanted to be helpful in building Apptentive. People like Monica, Buster, Jon and Dan have invested their time in helping us think through our solutions, our market and our future. When we get time with Rand, Neil, Howard or Mark, we consider our team to have grown. When people we trust and respect decide to back us with their time and their money, we know that our responsibilities extend beyond ourselves and we owe it to even more people to do our absolute best.
Building a company is humbling, difficult work and it really “takes a village” to grow it into something of lasting success (one of the many reasons why you should be pre-ordering Brad Feld’s new book Startup Communities). We never forget for one minute that every introduction and every coffee conversation is an investment of someone else’s time. An investment in us.
Today, our team grows by an order of magnitude
When we initially applied to TechStars, we believed it was mostly for fundraising purposes. Yes, what people say is true, raising early stage $$ in Seattle is more challenging than the Bay Area and we viewed TechStars as a meaningful boost to our ability to raise capital. We recognized that mentorship and access to the network would be important, but the truth is that we didn’t fully appreciate its importance.
Since we found out that we’d been accepted, that’s changed. From the first day, it was obvious that the TechStars organization is a family. A family full of tough love to be sure (thank you David for the early kick in the ass), but a family nonetheless. We’re joining something much bigger than us and in so doing, we know that our team has grown significantly. 5 days in to the formal program we’ve gotten incredible feedback on our pitch from Andy, learned about how to become a better manager from Glenn and been introduced to several mentors who will be exceptionally valuable in thinking about the experiences we’re designing.
To say that the addition of these people to our team and our thinking will be helpful is an understatement. What was taking us months before is being reduced to hours. A crucial component of a team is alignment around goals and as David impressed upon us yesterday, TechStars is structured and thoughtful about ensuring that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Amazing teammates bring out the best in you
Often overlooked, one of the most important benefits of working on team is that people who know your strengths and weaknesses can push you when you want to settle for less. Seeing people you respect constantly bring their A game is a reminder that if you’re not doing the same you’re letting the team down.
We’re lucky to have 9 other exceptional teams in this TechStars class with us (see more in the Geekwire piece). They are compatriots and colleagues, but more importantly, they are our startup workout partners.
Seeing what MobileDevHQ has already accomplished, the hustle of Bizible, the horsepower of LeanPlum, the “do whatever it fucking takes” of Maptia, the quiet brilliance of Superbly, the audacity of Tred, the sheer joy of Linksy.me and the tenacity of Sandglaz is a constant reminder of how much more we can do. Our team was “hungry” before but our appetites are growing on a daily basis as a result of being in this exceptional group of companies.
We hope to give back as much as they’re giving us.
Great teams focus on what matters
We know that getting into TechStars isn’t the goal. It’s a huge boost in achieving our goals and we aim to make the most of it for OUR CUSTOMERS, the most important members of our team and the reason we’re all here, running as fast as we can.