As a view from your desk goes, looking out across the picturesque shores of Lake Tahoe is pretty sweet. Accelerator Elevate Blue recently installed their office space in Incline Village on the north shore. Several weeks ago in our tech ecosystem series, they joined the conversation about the growing scene emerging in Silicon Mountain. Following on from that discussion, I spoke with the CEO of Elevate Blue, Jameson Stafford, about their evolution, and experience with startups.
In just one sentence, what is your accelerator called and what do you do?
Elevate Blue is a venture builder and early stage tech accelerator on the north shore of Lake Tahoe.
What makes your program different or unique? And related, what’s your primary value-add?
At Elevate Blue we are building an amazingly talented group of engineers, mentors and investors in one of the most beautiful places on earth, which is conveniently just a short drive from San Francisco. We are literally just a short bike ride to California, but we are able to contribute to the rapidly growing Nevada tech ecosystem.
At just 5 months old, our phased growth plan has begun as a venture builder. We are helping to create startups, nurturing very early stage companies and providing them with capital, engineering support, and complete hands-on management across all business functions. As these companies grow, we provide mentorship and assistance in fundraising, staffing and long-term growth planning.
What do you love the most about working with startups?
The entire planet is moving toward an entrepreneurial system of business. <Editor's note: Amen, brother! :> This is evident in all signs emerging culturally, educationally and in the rapid development of technology. It’s exciting to bring teams together at such an early stage and see their ideas gestate, grow and blossom. It’s incredible watching bonds form, and seeing the thrill in founders' eyes and the passion in their hearts. There’s nothing else quite like it in the world.
What is the hardest or most surprising part of working with startups?
Sometimes the hardest (and maybe least surprising) part of working with companies at such an early stage is that the excitement is literally bubbling over, so much so that focus has to be managed. When a company is pre-product, pre-revenue, anything is possible and there are no shortages of ideas around the office! It’s important to define a small list of what a company *is* and a very long list of what it *is not* very early in development. This is where our leadership and mentor team become invaluable to our entrepreneurs and team members.
Do you have a success story to share? Who are the most notable companies to go through your program?
Since we are only 5 months old, and our target launch program is 6 months, we are only now releasing our first companies into the wild. That said, we have secured some fantastic clients and launch partners for those businesses. It will be interesting for you to check back with us in 6 months and ask the same question!
How, if in any way, has Foundersuite helped your companies?
We first learned about Foundersuite at TechCrunch Disrupt SF late last year, and it was immediately clear that it’s a platform that would fit our rapid startup development, launch and funding model perfectly. As we are developing at the rate of one new startup every month, we look forward to a long and productive relationship with Foundersuite!
Finally, what is your best tip for running a startup?
Research relentlessly, move quickly, act fearlessly. Plan for success, but know that it’s ok to fail, as long as you fail quickly and repurpose your assets and pivot to a more successful model. Surround yourself with winners, make the best connections, be the world’s greatest evangelist and champion. As a startup, your greatest assets are your passion, agility and speed. Pair these assets with a solid business opportunity, the right people, and a solid accelerator program. Hit the gas, never look back. You will succeed.
Thank you and have a great day!