Back in February, we published an article about an Estonian ad-tech startup called Frank, which was about to embark on a four month venture accelerator program in the mountains of Telluride, Colorado.
Since then, they have successfully completed their program, added “.ai” to the end of their name, opened their second office in Boston, MA, and stand on the brink of breaking into the American Market.
We recently caught up with the founder, Harry Kanistik, who gave us a quick pitch as to why any of you who might be considering an accelerator program, might be more inclined to take a longer look at a program like Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA):
“At first my cofounders and I were really hesitant because Telluride is a tiny ski resort town 3,000 meters up in the mountains with a population of only 2,000 people. We thought for vacation, sure, but what is four months in the middle of the rocky mountains going to teach us how to grow our business?” Harry Kanistik, Founder and Head of Growth, Frank.ai
Kanistik says the answer to this question is “quite a lot, actually.” Here are his 4 reasons why the TVA program proved totally worth it for Frank (and could totally be worth it for your startup, too):
A Rigorous Program to Whip Your Business Into Shape
The program began with a rigorous 2-mile hike up a mountain for an overnight with the teams as a great “getting to know each other” program. But after that began a rigorous 3-week “boot camp” in which mentors came in to give talks and run workshops about everything from founder development to managing investors to the politics of board members to brand strategy.
Kanistik: “The important difference is that TVA believes that everyone can be successful and the success is defined by founders. And raise the most amount of money is not a success. Generally, I believe that startup accelerator programs are going to chance and TVA is years ahead here with their approach.”
TVA Program is has a new managing director Marc Nager, founder of Startup Weekend and ex-Chief Community Manager at TechStars.
Kanistik: “Marc Nager who is well connected in the US and helps us with his connections during and after the program. Just to mention few people who don’t need instruction we managed to get connected with Meg Whitman, Brad Feld, David Brown, Jerry Colonna, and Howard Schiller.“
World Class Mentors in a Close-Knit Environment
Kanistik: “As our cohort was only 7 startups we had basically unlimited access to mentors. The fact that is a small town makes the relationships unique and you can meet your mentors in grocery store or pub. Also, many mentors invited us in their homes and it felt more like a big family.”
The Telluride Venture Fund
Telluride also has a Venture Fund that agreed to invest into top teams.
Kanistik: “From funding side, the great thing is that help didn’t stop with our Demo Day, but TVA also organized investor meetups after that in Denver, San Francisco, and New York City. The Telluride Venture Fund also has committed to invest into Frank.”
An update on Frank
Kanistik: “In the US we have learned that small businesses have a much bigger pain point than initially anticipated; as it turns out, the vast majority of these small business prospects don’t know how to run an online advertising campaign, and yet, they can’t afford to hire an online advertising specialist. Based on these insights, we have moved from positioning ourselves as an easy to use programmatic media buying platform to an automated online advertising specialist named Frank.”
Now, Frank’s brain is directly connected to networks like Facebook, Google, in addition to programmatic media buying platforms across the web. Frank also has an ability to optimize and track sales that occur on the client’s website. There is lot’s of ways to waste money on advertising, but Frank id building a product that helps SME sector to get actual sales results.
“We’re taking on a huge unsolved problem that millions of small businesses are facing the biggest market in the world and we’re excited that already 70% of our revenue is coming from US customers. Our goals now are to finalize the product and get ready to scale the sales.”
Would you like to help small businesses grow online with Frank solution? Consider investing into Frank on Funderbeam: https://markets.funderbeam.com