The Beta Boom Story
Part 1: The Straw That Broke the Camel's Back
I still vividly remember sitting on our brown couch in Oakland, California on a windy fall evening in 2017 and reading the story about Juicero on TechCrunch.
I was disgusted.
For those of you that don’t know the Juicero story, it was a paragon of Silicon Valley excess and lemming-like group-think and underlined how completely out of touch Silicon Valley investors and innovators were with 99% of Americans.
Juicero was a “smart” internet-connected juicing maching for those urban elites that loathed having to put actual fruit in a juicing machine because it was too much work and too messy.
The hilarious thing about Juicero was that a human hand was better at squeezing juice out of the “convenient” fruit packets than the $400 dollar machine. Once people figured that inconvenient fact out, the company crashed and burned
The frustrating part of the story was that Juicero raise more than $118 million from top Silicon Valley investors such as Google Ventures (now GV) and Kleiner Perkins.
And the maddeningly infuriating punchline was that Juicero was just one example among countless others of useless innovations aimed at a very elite, very homogenous consumers that had truck loads of capital thrown at them while other high-growth startups solving real problem for the other 99% of the U.S. population couldn’t raise a mere $100K from these same Silicon Valley investors.
The people I grew up with needed solutions to real, pressing problems not AI-powered juicers or $800-dollar smart locks. They needed help finding work, learning new skills for better careers, help managing their finances, better access to healthcare, and better education for their children.
It became clear to me that I no longer wanted to be a part of the Bubble, building innovations for a very small part of the population, and being party to continuing the homogeneity of the tech industry.
In a complete crisis of confidence, I confessed my feeling to Kimmy, who was my wife and business partner for more than a decade. Turns out Kimmy felt exactly the same way!
Part 2: Beyond the Bubble
We knew that technology could be a tool for solving real, pressing problems, and we wanted to be a part of enabling impactful innovation. But we felt chained to the Silicon Valley way. So we decided, that same day, that life was too short to continue being a part of the Bubble.
As soon as we started looking outside The Valley, we realized how naive and ill-informed we were. Amazing founders were building huge, impactful tech companies in every corner of the United States, from Milwaukee to Miami.
Not only that, the innovators with whom we were talking were much more diverse than the typical founders that we were seeing lauded in TechCrunch. We were meeting scores of female founders, Black and Latinx founders, immigrant founders, founders that were alumni of state universities not Ivy League colleges, and even founders that never worked for a tech company.
However, over hundreds of conversations, we noticed that nearly everyone we spoke with lamented about their lack of access to funding (pretty obvious, especially in smaller tech hubs) as well as lack of access to operational expertise. That blew us away even though it should have been obvious too.
For example, a Black female founder from Kansas City does not have the same access to startup marketing and product experts as a founder that graduated from Stanford and spent his entire career working at Silicon Valley tech startups.
That’s a huge problem because human capital is much more important for a startup’s success than money.
Eureka! We realized we can solve both problems; we can bridge the access gaps to both capital and operational expertise.
What’s more, we were perfect for the part. We just spent more than a decade helping build product, engineering, and marketing teams for dozens of top startups and brands like Google and Bank of America.
Part 3: A Crazy Experiment
On MLK weekend in 2018, Kimmy and I decided to sell our house in Oakland, move to the fastest-growing rising tech hub in the U.S., and launch Beta Boom.
We would invest in founders that did not fit Silicon Valley pattern matching. Founders from rising tech hubs and from diverse backgrounds in every sense. And we would work alongside them every day, as an extension of their team, to jump start their growth and connect them to the operational expertise that they will need to be successful in the long-term.
There have been some hard-earned lessons along the way, but we’ve grown and fine-tuned our model a whole lot. Overall, our original vision has been successful beyond our wildest dreams. And we’re just getting started.
Part 4: The Future
It is an immutable trend that the founders of the future are going to be more diverse in every conceivable way: where they are based, their socio-economic background, education, professional experience, age, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, etc.
Yet while the face of tech entrepreneurship is rapidly changing, the investment models and firms that back them have hardly evolved since the 1960s and even the late 1800s, when venture capital funded whaling expeditions in New England.
We believe that in order to fully unlock the potential of the next generation of founders, the venture capital model has to evolve to meet the opportunities and needs that diverse founders bring to the table. In particular, we see that how firms find startups, evaluate them, and support them post-investment are all highly under-optimized. Beta Boom’s long-term goal is to innovate along those dimensions to better find promising startups and founders, evaluate them based on potential not presumption, and to empower them to build huge, impactful, global tech companies.