Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jonas Lamis of Tech Ranch Talks about the Entrepreneur Town Hall Meeting

Jonas Lamis of Tech Ranch Talks about the Entrepreneur Town Hall Meeting

Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Terre Haute Indiana. Once the Crossroad's of America, these days it is suffering quite a bit from manufacturing contraction. There is quite a difference in how Austin has grown versus how most Midwestern towns have suffered over the last 20 years.

What university did you go to?
Bachelors in Engineering from Purdue, Masters in Engineering from Georgia Tech, and an MBA from Texas.

What brought you to Austin?
I started my first venture in Austin in 1995 while my wife was at Dell.
Since then, I've been a founder or early employee of 6 different startups. Some were venture backed, some were bootstrapped. A couple crash and burned and two were acquired. Austin is a great place to launch and grow a startup.

What is the idea behind your group?
Tech Ranch is a service for the Central Texas entrepreneurial community
focused on accelerating success by collaborating together and sharing our wisdom. We provide mentorship, office space, shared services, and strategic council to some of central Texas' most interesting startups. You can see pictures of Tech Ranch on our flickr feed.

What need does it fulfill?

Tech Ranch is focused on accelerating technology entrepreneurs and their ideas. Over the years in Austin, we've seen our share of technology incubators. I believe that the economic model now finally makes sense - because most software startups require less funding to get off the ground and become sustainable.

What exactly does your group do?

Tech Ranch offers programs for all stages of entrepreneurs. We have a training program called Employee to Entrepreneur that is focused on going from idea to company launch. We offer "drop in" office space for entrepreneurs and companies that need a place to call home but don't yet need a permanent office. We rent offices to qualified startups on a month to month basis (costing between $400 and $600). We provide consulting to large corporations and governments that want to develop entrepreneur centric activities. We even take part-time executive positions with a few of our portfolio companies.

Who is it for?
Our Employee to Entrepreneur training program is for anyone who is
considering launching a technology venture and has questions about how they can thrive. We currently have 10 launched companies that we are working with including Be Greeted, Piryx, Help End Local Poverty, Nidiant, Blazent, Simplitex, IPX, Zehicle and others. We also have a dozen entrepreneurs who hang out at Tech Ranch working on getting their new ventures launched. More information about these programs can be found at http://techranchaustin.com/

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up the group?
At Tech Ranch, my partners (Kevin Koym and Arvin Poole) and I roll up our sleeves and help entrepreneurs get their companies launched and help navigate through the "valley of death". We are focused on early customer validation through revenue, and growing the team pragmatically based on measurable success. Early in a venture's life, there is rarely enough capital to pay the staff, so we generally have to get creative in building the right team and support organization for each venture.

What is the next step for you and your group?
We are really excited about our work with The City of Cedar Park, Texas. We are partnering to launch Tech Ranch Cedar Park later this month. Our first event is The Entrepreneur Town Hall Meeting. This event is scheduled for the evening of June 24th. The event is open to all interested people in Central Texas and is free. Information and tickets are available at http://www.techranchcedarpark.com. We hope the readers of this blog will join us for that event!

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
It seems like an excellent time to launch a startup in Central Texas. There are new support organizations like The Austin Entrepreneur Network, Tech Ranch, Capital Factory and others who can help you launch, grow and monetize your venture. Be sure to check us out!

Best regards,
Hall T.

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