“Changing the Way We Start Companies”: Q&A with AngelPad’s Thomas Korte

11/15/10Follow @wroush

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days. Well, if you are finding thousands of users in a few days, you can extrapolate that out. But it is extremely short. At the pace technology is moving, creating more urgency is the only way to succeed.

X: But do you feel that these companies are really prepared to leave the nest at the end of the 10 weeks?

TK: It’s not about leaving the nest. I think this is just a space in the life cycle of each company. One thing that happens in the 10 weeks is that we build very strong bonds with these companies and we know them from then on. I actually think it really is the right amount of time. Anything longer, you end up not really seeing the end in sight. Anything shorter than that is rushed.

X: That makes sense to me. Although I’ve seen startups coming out of incubators that take another 10 months after that to really launch. Or they pivot once or twice again before they find their real business.

TK: Absolutely, and most of them ought to. Most of these companies, they tackle problems that haven’t been tackled before. Social e-commerce that is location aware? It is going to be a couple of iterations before they get it right. And most of the companies here have actually worked on this for some time before. They don’t start the day they arrive here, they all show us demos as part of the application process. Most of these companies, or their ideas, are six to eight months old now at least. That’s the beauty of having hackers, having engineers. They build something and they show you. It’s not a business plan we’re buying into, it’s a demo we see.

X: It sounds like part of what you trying to do is provide them with the tools so that if they need to pivot, if they need to reinvent themselves, they’ll be in much better position to do that.

TK: Oh, yeah. Most companies, as they come in, we know that we want them to not do what they are planning and do something much, much bigger. You get them into a certain mindset. You help them draw out the picture of what this could look like, what the big problem is.

For me this is almost surreal, how this is actually coming to life now with these companies. It’s exhilarating. We’re changing the way companies are started. I think the likelihood of them succeeding is going to be much, much higher, no matter if they go to TechStars, Y Combinator, or here. I’m in an investor in over two dozen Y Combinator companies. I love the program and I think Paul is phenomenal. I’m glad he started this, because it really is changing the way we start companies.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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