U-M Student Startup Fetchnotes Wins TechStars Spot
Fetchnotes, the Ann Arbor, MI-based startup founded by a group of University of Michigan students, announced today that it has been accepted into the national business accelerator TechStars Boston. It’s a prestigious program that accepts only 1 percent of startups that apply to participate, and Fetchnotes is the first U-M student startup to earn the distinction.
“We’re glad to be repping Michigan,” says co-founder Alex Schiff. “We’re scaling up a lot faster than we expected, and we’re really excited to do that.”
Think of Fetchnotes, a cloud-based notepad that focuses on short items, as digital sticky notes. Users can text, call, and e-mail reminder notes on the fly from their mobile phones, and the content shows up on the Fetchnotes app. The notes can be organized at the point of capture using hashtags (for example, “#call Alex Schiff re: article #todo”) and they’re also shareable with other Fetchnotes users.
Schiff says he and his co-founders started Fetchnotes because they noticed that people were using a “patchwork” system to organize short notes and to-do lists that was ripe for disruption. Fetchnotes gives people the tools to create their own their own systems of organization, Schiff explains, in the language that makes sense to them.
Fetchnotes released its mobile app in April and currently has about 19,500 users. Schiff says the startup has two main goals while it’s part of TechStars: to leverage the program’s vaunted group of mentors and to make sure its product is well situated for sustainable growth. Upon acceptance to the program, Fetchnotes received $18,000 in financing and the option of an additional $100,000, which Schiff says Fetchnotes plans to accept.
Along with the investment from TechStars, the company recently closed a round of financing worth an undisclosed amount from Rick DeVos’ Start Garden, Tim Howes (co-founder of RockMelt), Norm Rapino (co-founder of Nextronext), and Wes Huffstutter (program manager at the University of Michigan’s Office of Tech Transfer).
Before joining the fall 2012 class of TechStars Boston, Fetchnotes was part of TechArb, the U-M student startup incubator. Doug Neal, who runs TechArb, says that what’s great about the team behind Fetchnotes is how quickly they’re able to move and pivot the Fetchnotes business model. “They’re in a really good position, focused on a very interesting space,” he adds, saying that the next challenge is to adopt a revenue model that ensures success.
Neal says Fetchnotes has been involved in the gamut of U-M entrepreneurial programs, from 1,000 Pitches to TechArb, and represents the apex of what’s possible. “It’s a great example of the success students can have in our entrepreneurial programs,” he says.
But what he admires most about Fetchnotes, perhaps, is the company’s commitment to return to Ann Arbor after its stint in TechStars. “We want entrepreneurs to generate these kinds of outcomes and then come back to Michigan,” he notes.