“To Mach, or not to Mach”
So you’re thinking of applying for the Mach37 program? You’re unsure. You’re skeptical. After all, you know this industry inside and out. You’re convinced your solution is the hottest thing going and there’s no competition. You are going to raise some capital from the money you’ve saved, get a few friends to kick in and you’ll sell this company for a gazillion dollars in a year or two to Facebook. Simple plan. Fool proof. That’s why everyone does it, right?
Not so fast…
What do your customers think? Oh you don’t have any yet? Surely they need this solution because you know your technology. You’ll just call up a few government clients where you provided great support and they will just write the Purchase Order. Maybe. Or maybe you’ll chase the “opportunity” for 18 months (standard) while you pour all of your money into product development. Double your estimate of development time and cost. The bank account is dwindling. Maybe you’ll just take a part-time support contract and bill some extra hours. There goes 30 hours that you are going to need but just don’t know it.
Call John and Susan. They are great sales people and are under appreciated at their established publicly traded firm and surely can “moonlight” and get your product out there. They surely will work for “equity” and prioritize this over their $150k year guaranteed salary with bonus opportunities.
Have you thought about intellectual property protection? Trademarks? Total available market? Go-to market strategy? You’ll just figure it out along the way and find an outsourced firm to do that.
You’re a little frustrated though because you’ve explained this technology to your peers and they just don’t get it. It’s because you’re just too smart. It has nothing to do with your inability to articulate the value proposition.
You’ve looked at Mach37. They want a small percentage of your company from the start. Are they crazy? This company is going to be worth millions and you’re going to maintain 90% ownership. If you need capital, the angels will certainly come knocking on the door and Venture Capital firms will stroke checks for millions, asking, asking only a few percentage points.
A backup plan is good. You’ve heard Kickstarter crowd funding is a sure fire way to raise a ton of money. Fool proof plan…can’t lose.
At this juncture, may I suggest setting up a lemonade stand and charging $100 per cup? You’ll more likely to be successful.
Mach37 partners know the industry. They are connected to almost EVERYONE and you will be introduced to many of them. They know products. They understand the market, the competition, the pitfalls and they know how to develop a successful business plan. They are patient. They understand pivoting. They are a holistic accelerator that will give you the best chance to be successful. They provide funding. They introduce you to the real players. And the Thursday night dinners are pretty good too (I highly recommend the cannoli)!
Summarized…apply. Consider it a privilege to be considered and an honor to be accepted. Focus and give 110% to the program if you get in. Be the first in and the last to leave every day. Execute. Accept criticism and feedback. Engage. Debate. Fail. Pivot. Improve. Succeed. Excel.
My name is Shawn Key. I am the founder of Key Cybersecurity, Inc., a Mach37 inaugural cohort member. We are the developer of CyberMerlin, a cyber security illicit file detector geared to Fortune 500 and K-12 enterprise network organizations. We raised $250k in funding in four months and are poised for success. I continue to reach back to Mach37 weekly to ensure I am focused and on the right path. I owe this chance to be successful to Mach37 and the great resources they introduced to me during the program. By far, this is the best experience I have ever had and I am thankful to everyone who took a chance on me and set me on the path.
The ball is in your court….apply.
Shawn R. Key
Founder, Key Cybersecurity, Inc.
“2014 NVTC Destination Innovation Award (Security Category)