Lee Blaylock of Who@ Talks about Startup Grind Dallas (http://www.meetup.com/Startup-Grind-Dallas/)
Where are you from originally?
Born in Houston, raised in Dallas. 7th generation Texan on both sides of my family, but all that means is my ancestors were running from the law in Kentucky and Tennessee and didn’t have enough money to fix their wagon wheel while headed to California.
What university did you go to?
What brought you to Austin?
What is your group’s mission?
Who@’s mission is to increase business productivity on a global basis by enabling you to leverage who you know, and do it in ways you never dreamed of.
What need does it fulfill?
The need to differentiate yourself by leveraging your relationships
What exactly does it bring to startups?
Faster access to capital, customers, investors and advisors.
What type of startup would benefit from your group?
Anyone raising capital or looking to sell their product or service in an environment where relationships matter.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting up the initiative?
Getting it capitalized outside of silicon valley. Both coasts refer to “flyover territory” unless you’re on the coasts. They invest in business where the exit is a multiple of revenue. Here in the heartland, too many investors are looking for business that exit as a multiple of EBIDA. The venture capital market in Texas is embarrassing. Texas is the 8th largest economy in the world and the amount of early stage investors is disproportionate to the talent here. It is a real market opportunity for savvy investors. The problem is, the smartest money is in CA, NYC and Boston and there’s too much money chasing too few deals so their supply demand equation isn’t out of balance and they don’t see the need to travel + travel for them means lost opportunity to spend more time with other deals. They do invest here, but not at the seed stage and not at a true A stage either except where there is a previous relationship. But hey, you have to bloom where you are planted.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Never ever stop believing in yourself for when you do, bad things can happen. But remember there is always a delicate balance between self-belief, self-doubt and self-aggrandizement. Too much of either of those and you will suffer as Icarus did.
What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?
The engineers and research that comes out of UT. Without UT, Austin would be a nice little town with outstanding Mexican food, watersports and too many lobbyists and lawyers. Not much else.