Roost reports on progress at Y Combinator acceleratorWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The founders of Roost, a Toledo-based software startup company, are spending the summer at the Y Combinator, a prestigious accelerator program located in Mountain View, Calif., and recently offered an update on their experience so far.
Roost co-founders Burton Miller, Casey Haakenson and Tim Varner reported their experiences via a live video feed from California at the Tech Connect, held July 9 at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Salon. The business networking event was presented by Rocket Ventures and sponsored by ProMedica.
Roost, previously known as Notice Software, is among four groups of 20 companies per group participating in the accelerator program this summer. They updated the attendees at Tech Connect about what they are learning in the accelerator and answered questions from the audience watching them on a large video screen at the Glass Salon.
Miller said they have already realized that “their biggest problem is getting people to know about us.” Varner added that marketing their service to potential users will be critical for their success.
The Y Combinator provides seed investments, business consulting and other opportunities to help startup teams build their companies and pitch to investors or acquirers. The intensive three-month program also includes weekly dinners with past Y Combinator alumni and top influencers in emerging technology.
The accelerator funds all types of startups, but is particularly interested in companies with Web and mobile applications. More than 500 companies worth more than $20 billion have passed through Y Combinator, according to Roost CFO Ben Trumbull.
“It is the best accelerator program in the country. Thousands upon thousands of startups apply, and only a tiny fraction are accepted,” Trumbull said. “The entire team feels lucky and honored for this opportunity.”
The Y Combinator program ends with a “Demo Day” when startups present their business concepts to an invite-only audience and participants become members of the growing alumni network. The network includes Reddit, Dropbox, Airbnb, Optimizely, and Stripe, among hundreds of other successful companies.
Roost, which has developed push notification software for desktop platforms, has operated out of the LaunchPad incubation program at the University of Toledo since it relocated from Seattle, Washington. Rocket Ventures was one of the major investors in Roost’s recent seed round that raised $350,000 for the startup.
Roost has been a technology tenant-client of the LaunchPad Incubation Program since June 2013. It has received grant funding from LaunchPad Incubation, UT Innovation Enterprises and Rocket Ventures. Trumbull represents Rocket Ventures on the Roost board of directors and is working with the startup serving as its CFO.
Trumbull said without the support of the LaunchPad Incubation program, UT Innovation Enterprises and Rocket Ventures, Roost would not have had the unique opportunity to participate in Y Combinator and advance the business.
Roost made a presentation to potential investors at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium held June 17-18 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It was among 35 to 40 companies that pitched their businesses to people representing some of the top investment firms in the U.S.
Trumbull said that they felt the event was successful for Roost; however those types of things don’t happen overnight. He compared it to buying a house with a lot of stages involved in the process.
ProMedica CEO Randy Oostra discussed the unprecedented need for change in the healthcare business at the Tech Connect event.
“We believe a health care system should take a leadership role in the community, clinically, socially and economically,” said Oostra, who leads the largest health care organization in Northwest Ohio with 16,000 employees.
Martin Dober, director of Invest Detroit’s venture team, made a presentation about “What’s Working In This Region.” He cited the need for developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem and building talent for new companies as critical to the region’s success.
Reports on two additional Rocket Venture companies, AquaBlok Ltd. and Blue Water Satellite Inc. were also given at Tech Connect.
AquaBlok is Rocket Venture’s fastest growing company that develops and implements environmental remediation applications. The company currently has 17 full-time employees and recently opened a new production plant in Swanton, according to its president John Hull.
Bluewater Satellite of Bowling Green uses proprietary satellite image processing to show were problems exist on land and in water. The firm expects to generate $1 million in sales in 2014 for 84 percent growth and to reach $50 million in sales in five years, according to its CEO Milt Baker.
Bob Savage, president and fund manager at Rocket Ventures, hosted the Tech Connect, a revival of a quarterly business networking event formerly held by the Regional Growth Partnership. Savage is co-founder and managing partner of Savage Consulting in Toledo and CoreNetwork, a group of local investors.
Tags: AquaBlok, Ben Trumbull, Blue Water Satellite, Bob Savage, Burton Miller, Casey Haakenson, Glass Salon, Innovation Enterprises, Invest Detroit, John Hull, LaunchPad Incubation Program, Martin Dober, Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, Milt Baker, Notice Software, ProMedica, Randy Oostra, Rocket Ventures, Roost, Tim Varner, Toledo Museum of Art, University of Toledo, Y Combinator