August 6th, 2009 was Techstars Demo Day. The biggest 8 minutes of my life. Thanks to Quora and many accelerators showing the video, our presentation has now been seen over 50,000 times! Here is a link to watch the 8 min. video in its entirety.
In the pitch we laid out a grand vision with great confidence, which we are still marching towards, but like all startups - behind the scenes we were on incredibly shaky financial ground.
When we arrived in Boulder there was a $3k check waiting for us (the remaining $15k arrived later) and we knew it was critically important that we stretch that as long as possible. David and Samir had just graduated from Northwestern that summer and I had been living with friends and slowly depleting the last of the $25k we’d raised in the summer of 2008.
We ended the summer of 2009 with ~$2,000 total in the NBS bank account, and much less in our own personal accounts. This translated to less than 3 months of runway in the bank and were racking up credit card debt. We all moved in with my aunt Caren rent-free until we closed our Seed round with Foundry Group on September 23rd of that year, 45 days after demo day.
I still have our budget from that summer and refer to it periodically, we’d divided it into three reimbursement periods and logged each expense.
The lightbulb for $4.62 and $15 for an office chair on Criagslist are two of my favorite. Otherwise you can see coffee, internet, and flights for David and Samir who had to fly back during the program for mid-terms, finals, and to finally graduate.
I think our experience of surviving 2008 and 2009 really grounded us in later years when it would have been easy to spend recklessly. I always kept our budget from 2009 accessible as a reminder that each and every dollar matters.
I’m now on an airplane to Boulder to watch the 10th annual Techstars Demo Day. David, Samir and I will all be in attendance, supporting the program that took a chance on us in 2009 when we otherwise would have gone out of business.