Startups San Antonio continues its series of stories about significant startup programs based in San Antonio. You can read our story on Geekdom’s pre-accelerator program and the CivTechSA program for startups. Today, we’re sharing an inside look into the RealCo long-term accelerator program.
If you have launched a startup but could benefit from guidance and help with funding, there is an accelerator program open to companies regardless of location. The RealCo Long-Term Accelerator program provides early-stage funding, mentorship, and networking resources for business-to-business (B2B) technology startup companies. Operating inside Geekdom’s co-working space in San Antonio’s downtown tech district, the program provides a $100,000 investment to companies accepted into the 15-month program.
Michael Girdley, the founding RealCo partner, is also the co-founder and managing director for the Geekdom Fund, a venture capital fund investing in early-stage tech startups.
“We’re seeing a trend in the market where it’s shifting from building a company locally with all your people in one place to a world that is becoming more distributed,” Girdley said. “Our strategy is to build something unique to accommodate startups because RealCo is by default distributed, with startups in Austin, the Bay area, San Antonio, and in Houston.”
RealCo’s managing director Rich Grote divides his time between Boulder, Colorado and San Antonio, Texas, working with startups across the country. The value of RealCo’s accelerator is in helping B2B companies that are already generating revenue become more successful as they scale in growth.
“RealCo addresses the journey from seed funding to Series A round where all the hard work is,” RealCo participant Dauber CEO and co-founder Brian Jones said. “You’re not going to get much more investment if you don’t have an idea that has a market and is scalable.”
Since joining the long-term accelerator program, Grote said there have been changes to how RealCo is finding companies and onboarding them.
“In the past, we did the searching, but now we’re building a strong network of people who want to help founders win,” Grote said. “Our goal for 2019 is to have 75 percent of our companies come to us via referrals from partners, investors, and other founders. We want RealCo to be a strong entrepreneurial resource for the greater ecosystem in San Antonio and Austin.”
The program team recently launched RealC0(n), a recurring quarterly conference that brings its founders, investors, and mentors together for several days of business development. Founders also have access to RealCo’s broad network of advisors in between summits.
“People know Techstars, but we hope they will also get to know RealCo,” FunnelAI co-founder Sridhar Kamma said.
Startups Share Experiences from the RealCo Accelerator Program
For founders thinking about applying to RealCo’s 15-month accelerator program, you can learn more from the founders of three participating startups: Dauber’s Brian Dauber, FunnelAI’s Sridhar Kamma, and Dearduck’s Katy Aucoin.
How did your participation in the RealCo accelerator help your startup?
Dauber: “They helped us clarify our message and raise our seed funding. I had lots of great ideas, but they helped me target in on one great idea.”
FunnelAI: “We got connected to potential customers early on and got customers through referrals. The mentorship we received on how to grow and acquire customers helped us in securing early-stage customers.”
Dearduck: “We recently signed a contract with the Pearl, they’re a perfect partner for us to roll out our services in San Antonio. This connection was possible through a RealCo introduction. RealCo has helped me understand the priorities a founder should focus on when building a company from the ground up.”
What have you learned that is crucial to your startup’s success?
Dauber: “Startups are hard, and it takes a lot of hustle to make it work. Not every day is a great day and belonging in a community of founders gives you that perspective to keep doing this. The harder you work, the more good days you’ll find. If you haven’t done this, you don’t get how hard it is.”
FunnelAI: “We’ve learned product-market fit, who our customers are, and what problem we are solving for them. We’ve realized how uniquely our product has been positioned in the market. RealCo helped us with connections and introductions when we were raising our seed round—all our funding came to us through introductions.”
Dearduck: “What I have learned so far is the need to focus on customers. It’s easy for founders to focus on investment and raising money, but if you focus on your customers, the money will come.”
How is the program helping your startup with its long-term goals?
Dauber: “We’re setting goals to make us ready for Series A investment. We’re working on getting one big customer and five to 10 smaller to midsize customers so we can hit our metrics in a way that makes us attractive for the next round of investment.”
FunnelAI: “We’re getting introductions from our advisory committee members to people in specific verticals like dealerships in the auto industry and real estate. Our investors are helping us reach out to other verticals through introductions as well. RealCo’s network is helping us scale.”
Dearduck: “We have multiple potential customers, and this is where I believe RealCo will be extremely helpful. After we get through the next phase of focusing on our customer, we will be better able to identify pathways to gaining more traction.”