Tracing my entrepreneurial bug goes all the way back to junior high school. I didn’t have any great ideas, but I worked for several self-proprietors that did.
Much to the surprise of my entrepreneur mentors, I immediately started working for corporate America when I graduated college.
It didn’t take too long for me to realize large companies were not my cup of tea. I quickly moved to smaller venture-backed companies to take on larger roles and learn more, faster.
Even here, though, something told me there was more so I kept exploring. I spent many evenings chatting about different business opportunities with friends and how we could get them up and going.
My first side gig, Vinsnap, was born out of one these conversations with my friend Marc. We quickly discovered the product we originally set out to build didn’t meet market demand. Turns out people didn’t want to actually manage their car shopping experience on a mobile application if they had to physically be at the same location as the car to input information.
Marc and I quickly pivoted our automotive venture to focus connected cars, and we were lucky enough to be accepted into Edmunds.com inaugural FastLane accelerator program.
With my wife pregnant and expecting our first kid in the same month, I quit the steady day job to focus full time on the new venture (thank you, Trisha!).
I had no cash to invest and never personally built software, but I could sell. This led to my first entrepreneur freak out moment. I just sold our product to our first customer, and then it dawned on me, I had no resources to actually build or deliver the product I just sold.
We followed the Lean Startup method, somewhat by accident if we’re being honest. We quickly discovered what bootstrapping and learning on the fly truly felt like. We taught ourselves to code and delivered the product on time (30 days post-sale), albeit with a few bugs. But we made it happen.
After the euphoria wore off, we realized we needed to start actually running the company: selling, marketing, fundraising, and building out the product.
For the first time in my career, I was excited and started to learn what I really loved – helping people realize their dreams or solve their challenges in new ways.
In the midst of all this, I connected with an old friend from college, Casey. Casey had been off helping people fund their dreams using money from government and foundation grants.
He kept urging me to look at grants as a way to fund Vinsnap. I roughly knew what a grant was, but didn’t think there was any chance one could help our company.
In truth, I blew him off. I told him I’m busy trying to operate my startup – market the product and build our sales pipeline. We didn’t have the time to search for, write and manage grants.
Fast forward a couple years and the light bulb finally went off. If I, as a tech entrepreneur, didn’t have the time to find, write and manage grants, there were likely other people in my same position.
I restrained every muscle in my body to go out and build a product to support, and started testing my hypothesis.
I took every chance I got to chat with my fellow entrepreneurs, the ones I went to for “startup therapy”, and ask them if they had ever considered grants as a funding opportunity.
I learned most hadn’t even considered using them and didn’t know where to start even if they did want to explore using grants.
These discussions opened my mind to new ideas of how I remain a part of and work directly with the entrepreneurial community at the same time.
So now, at GrantScribe, we are building software and services, making it easy for every company in the world to fund their dreams using government and foundation grants.
If you have an idea for a company or a project and think we might be able to help, please schedule an appointment with us. We’d love to hear what you’re up to.
PS. We believe in giving back to the community, and we’re working on offering several free resources to help you pursue your vision. If you’re on our email list at GrantScribe, you’ll be the first to hear about them.
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