There are countless startup accelerators for budding entrepreneurs who need a little boost for their business. But Bob Crimmins thinks there is room for another.
Crimmins, a Seattle tech veteran, is founder of Startup Haven, a community for entrepreneurs that began as a poker game but now has chapters in seven cities and 2,300 members.
Startup Haven recently opened up an official application process for its new accelerator, a 3-month virtual program built around a company-building methodology called “GroundWork.” It’s the result of what Crimmins has learned after mentoring hundreds of entrepreneurs over the past two decades.
“The GroundWork methodology is not garden variety goal setting, tracking KPIs or managing to OKRs,” Crimmins said. “It’s also not picking the six-month target along your idealized hockey stick chart. This is about identifying the right, next strategic milestones and marshalling your resources to execute on a cogent plan to accomplish them.”
Crimmins, a software engineer who founded his first startup in 1999 and launched four others, said many founders get too caught up in building a perfect product and don’t spend enough time focusing on the business side. It’s a mantra he’s touted for years. He also said 99% of entrepreneurs getting their companies off the ground don’t have clear, strategic milestones laid out over the next four-to-six months.
“Once you figure out that cogent story, it’s like a superpower,” Crimmins said. “Now you can look around corners and you know where you’re going. You’ve thought through assumptions you’re making and how you can get there.”
Accepted companies will receive a $120,000 funding offer, which includes a $20,000 stipend investment in exchange for 5% equity, plus a $100,000 convertible debt offer at a $3 million cap. The financing structure is similar to the Techstars model.
They also get paired with two dedicated “executive mentors” — folks such as former Techstars Seattle leader Andy Sack, Foundry Group co-founder Brad Feld, Seattle angel investor Yoko Okano, and others.
The accelerator does not follow a strict cohort model but plans to accept two-to-five companies per quarter. Startups can come from any sector but they must have full-time founders, work on a venture-scale opportunity, and have some early elements of traction. Applicants can be based anywhere in the U.S. but must be a member of Startup Haven.
There are no demo days for the Startup Haven accelerator.
“Our objective is to help teams achieve their next strategic milestone, whether or not that milestone is raising capital immediately following the program,” Crimmins said.
Crimmins, who made running Startup Haven his full-time job in 2019, recently brought on Dave Malcolm as managing director to help run the accelerator. Malcolm, a longtime startup advisor and investor, previously worked at Techstars and ran Microsoft corporate accelerators from 2011 to 2013.
Startup Haven also offers a members-only recruiting program and an investor matching program. It is supported financially via sponsorships and partnerships.