Startup accelerators are growing in numbers in the US and the world. I’m not going to bore you with the granular details of the economics of these programs. Generally the objective is as follows:
- Make great investments in great companies
- Offer something special enough to the community that mentors will commit time to help the companies succeed
- Work hard to help your participating companies ramp their progress more quickly than they would without your program
- Enjoy investor returns, in which the accelerator (and the people that run it) benefit
That last, all-important step can take on average five to seven years to realize. For this reason, sponsors of programs like MergeLane are invaluable. We want to do terrific things with and for the teams to create the best possible experiences and outcomes for them. We need to get support in the form of legal advice, accounting services, insurance, physical space, technology tools, and more.We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a stellar group of eight companies for our inaugural cohort. We couldn’t ask for more from our mentors, speakers, and CEO coaches.
But this love letter is for our sponsors. We often say that we can’t do enough to thank these folks. And nonetheless, we will keep trying. We love the MergeLane sponsors, and we want you to know who they are. Each one of these companies has either made a material, direct financial commitment to the MergeLane program or provided in-kind services that saved the accelerator substantial expense. Here you go:
Thank you Bryan Cave, LLP. Thank you specifically to Mark Weakley, Laurel Durham and Danielle Town of the Boulder office. They are completely responsible for putting MergeLane on a solid legal footing from our founding. Thank you even more for working through the unpredictable process of getting our first class of companies signed. Thank you for taking calls at all hours, for returning emails within seconds, for offering us smart, fast, best-quality advice. Both Elizabeth and I have worked with you two on other matters. We find you to be the finest business attorneys we have ever worked with.
Thank you First Western Trust. You have a beautiful, stately, bright, and friendly office in the heart of Boulder. We asked you, Nancy Stevens, if you would be willing to host our teams for some of the three weeks they were required to be in-residence in Boulder. Your response? You would host us for all three weeks. Some of our readers may not live in Boulder, and you may not know that even if MergeLane could have paid to rent this much perfect space in town, we wouldn’t have found it. Large spaces are difficult, if not impossible to locate. The good people at FWT generously provided some of the nicest space in town. Although their office was highly disrupted by us, there was nothing but smiles and genuine interest.
Thank you SoftLayer. SoftLayer believes in the business intelligence of engaging with early-stage companies through accelerators as a source for future business. They’ve designed the Catalyst Startup Program to meet these needs. And you, Rich Maloy, have been connected to MergeLane from day 1. You have been a steady and constant source of support, both financial and advisory. You show up. You join us for dinners. You give our teams feedback on their pitches. You educate them on technology and infrastructure. You, Rich , are the real deal, and you, SoftLayer, are a substantial part of the metaphorical infrastructure of many of the strongest startup communities in the world, including ours.
Thank you Zayo Group. You, Zayo, and your CEO, Dan Caruso, have made it your business to support the key drivers of this fine community lucky enough to serve as your birthplace and home. It’s not every public company CEO who dedicates real time and resources to growing business in the many ways Dan Caruso does. Dan has built an organization of investors and leaders who are focused on investing in Colorado-based companies and charitable organizations. He actively leads this effort. He actively works to create a diverse workforce at Zayo. He walks the walk. Zayo, we appreciate your generous support of MergeLane.
Thank you Centro Latin Kitchen and Big Red F Restaurant Group. We thank you for saying “yes” quickly to hosting us not once, but twice. We thank you, Dave Query, for being an inherent entrepreneur and for sharing your wisdom with our companies, and with this community on a regular basis. I personally have learned more from you than any other person about building community support by giving community support. Thank you.
In addition to our program sponsors, we have seen generous additional support from Galvanize, Silicon Valley Bank, Anton Collins Mitchell and JP Morgan. Ryan Gaterman, Emilie Kintner, Charlie Kelly, Leslie Shalk, Mark Lumsden and Robin Catlin, THANK YOU. Because of you, we have had a desk to work from, food to eat, beer to drink, and happy investors with K-1s delivered on-time.
And we’re not finished. We are moving ahead with MergeLane 2016 and 2017 classes. Do we want to add sponsors willing to show this level of commitment? Why, yes, we do. If this is you, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.