[Editor: What’s it like to go through the ups and downs of startup life here in Portland? Well, you’re going to get a little inside look at exactly that. The folks at TresPlace, a very early stage startup here in Portland, have offered to take us along on their journey through a series of guest posts. This is the first post in that series from cofounder Ryan Wellert.]
Earlier this week, I read an article re-tweeted by Upstart Labs. The blog said the most interesting part of early stage startups is not their product or service, but the founders’ stories. “There’s always a unique reason they are doing what they are doing and it’s usually pretty inspiring.” I don’t know how inspiring my story is, but I’m honored for the opportunity to share a glimpse of my life as a Portland, OR entrepreneur.
One of my favorite authors defines story as “a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.” As co-founder for an early stage web startup, there is a lot of conflict! Every week an investor, customer or friend reminds me that most businesses fail. That can be super discouraging! Good thing I love what I do. I live for this!
I’m a co-founder of a startup called TresPlace. We believe there is a better way coffee shops can be experienced and discovered online. TresPlace hopes to solve this problem through high quality content, the power of storytelling and a niche market.
In June 2012 my co-founder and I, Darick Dang, started building TresPlace. From the beginning we had a simple strategy: create a business model, publish a minimum viable product (MVP), talk with our customers and build an audience. After all of this, we believed there would be enough work, passion and research to attract early stage investors. (For the record, the following books heavily influenced our strategy: The Business Model Generation, The Lean Startup, Re-Work, Do More Faster, and Venture Deals.)
Six months later (today), we accomplished our goals. We have validated our assumptions, thoroughly defined “the problem” our product is solving, built relationships with our customer segments, published a product, created a pitch deck, pro forma and executive summary… Now it’s time to fund our seed round! I am constantly pursuing meeting with local VC’s, angels and incubators. We always asking for feedback from local influencers, startups, coffee shop owners and mentors.
This Friday we have our first meeting with a local venture capitalist. Who knows what’s going to happen? We’re going into the meeting with an open mind. I believe in our product and business model…I think they will too. But most importantly, I want them to believe in our team. I want our passion and enthusiasm to over flow. We’re prepared to answer a lot of hard questions. At the end of the day, I believe we’ll walk away with more experience, perspective and an opportunity to learn. I’ll let you know how it goes…