Twitter Plea Helps Baydin Get Seed Money from Angel Investor Dave McClure; Startup Moving to the Valley Next Month
So an entrepreneur helps out a prominent angel investor when the latter needs a ride, and gets a seed investment as a result. It sounds like something you might see in a movie. But it’s a reality for Baydin, an e-mail technology startup out of Boston (but soon to be based in the San Francisco Bay Area).
The investor is Silicon Valley’s Dave McClure, a super angel and former Founders Fund member who’s backed 70-plus companies, like Mint.com, Simply Hired, and SlideShare, and now has his own seed fund and accelerator, called 500 Startups. And the entrepreneur is Alexander Moore, founder and CEO of Cambridge, MA-based Web startup Baydin, makers of an e-mail management tool called Boomerang.
So how did it all come about? Let’s just say it pays to be at the right place at the right time—on Twitter, that is. On September 1st, McClure tweeted “YO: need ride from Bucks/Woodside 2 Toyota/MtView @ 9:45am – will hear startup pitch in yr car; can a brother get a lift? Use #PitchVCtaxi.”
“It was kind of a weird confluence of events,” Moore says. The Baydin CEO says he stopped in Silicon Valley for a few days in between weddings he was attending in Seattle and San Diego, trying to set up meetings with investors, but a few had canceled. Moore’s girlfriend noticed McClure’s tweet when they were just a 10-minute drive away from the restaurant where McClure was, Moore says. So he picked him up.
Moore had about 40 minutes while driving McClure to a mechanic’s shop to tell him about Baydin’s technology, which enables e-mail users to write e-mails now and send them at a later date, or triage their inboxes by bringing important e-mails back to the top of their list so they can get to them when they have more time. “He dug pretty deep into our metrics, which you’d kind of expect ’cause it’s Dave McClure,” Moore says, adding that McClure told him at the end of the conversation that he’d be interested in investing at least $50,000 in the company through the 500 Startups fund, provided that Baydin’s technology doesn’t compete with others in the 500 Startups portfolio. McClure did the research and came back the next week saying he’d be giving the company $100,000 in convertible notes, Moore says.
Baydin is also planning a move out to Silicon Valley, likely in Mountain View, CA, for mid-November, Moore says. It’s another loss to its West Coast competition for Boston, but Moore says the company was attracted to the thriving startup and fundraising environment in the Valley. (You can see why he would be, after the “#PitchVCtaxi episode,” and other real-life startup stories like Mark Zuckerberg’s bumping into Sean Parker in the early days of Facebook, a point depicted in The Social Network.) Other Boston-area companies that have moved west include thredUP, Zendesk, and TaskRabbit.
We wrote about Baydin, an alum of the 2009 TechStars Boston class, a week and 25,000 users into the launch of the Gmail version of Boomerang (the company only issued 250 invite codes for the release, but consumers found their way around those). And e-mail inbox management wasn’t even Baydin’s focus when it got into TechStars—originally the company was working on semantic Web-based technology for dragging and dropping files relevant to e-mails. As of a few weeks ago, about 75,000 users had downloaded the plug-in, Moore says.
Baydin filed a document with the SEC this past Wednesday revealing it had raised $50,000 of a planned $500,000 round of debt- and rights-based funding. (Moore says the startup got $50,000 at the end of September from 500 Startups and will get another $50,000 from the fund at the end of this month.) He’s planning on meeting with more investors once the move out West is finished, and will put the funding toward scaling the technology and prototyping an “e-mail game,” which is supposed to make going through your inbox more fun, he says.
Baydin was considering a move to the Bay Area prior to Moore’s run-in with McClure, but it wasn’t definite. “We’re in the e-mail space, and all the major e-mail names are out there.” But that “#PitchVCtaxi” event, and another trip out to the area in late September helped the company make up its mind, Moore says.
“People like Dave don’t exist very many places in the world outside the Valley,” he says, “and we thought it made sense to be there.”