Running a startup can be a chaotic time; a million things need to be built, done, tracked, analyzed, considered, reported and validated. It can be hard to keep track of it all, and there’s always the threat of something (maybe something important?!) slipping through the cracks. BootOS today launched a platform to make everything healthier in an effort to help founders stay on track.
The platform was built in collaboration with (and supported by) SVB, the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank. It includes access to business tools, guidance, mentors and investors, in hopes that the founders can learn how to best guide their startups through the process of validating ideas, building MVPs and finding product-market fit .
The company is led by CEO and co-founder Paul Pluschkell, who spent the past quarter century building startups, and has a handful of successful exits to its credit, including MXNet, IXnet, Spigit, Global Center, and Kandy.
“One of the main reasons startups are successful is because they were given access to the tools, funding sources and network needed to support the growth of their business right from the start of their journey,” Pluschkell shared in a statement. to londonbusinessblog.com. “Unfortunately, however, not every founder has the same level of empowerment and support due to their background and/or geographic location. With StartupOS we want to change that.”
Early next year, the company will add the ability to connect to a network of investors, making StartupOS a source of early stage deal flow for interested angels and investors.
StartupOS’s stated mission is that it “aims to dramatically increase the total number of startups and their chances of success for new, diverse generations of founders.” That sounds good. However, as a middle-aged man with over 20 years of work experience, I feel qualified to match this piece of criticism: It feels a bit rich to have “diverse founders” as a stated target when the press info includes three middle-aged dudes — Mr Pluschkell (DIRECTOR), Mr. Wagner (head of biz dev) and Mr Dhillon (COO) — with more than 20 years of work experience. Adding a woman or some fresh blood to the team might have been a nice touch. When I challenged the StartupOS team on its sausage fest at the top of the pyramid, the company didn’t quite agree.
“We have a diverse leadership team. In fact, about 50% of the top executives at StartupOS are diverse, including women and minorities. Our platform is designed so that startups that would traditionally have no opportunity for mentoring/investment through accelerators can now find a more direct path to success,” said Pluschkell. “This will be a major benefit to minority businesses that previously struggled to get the funding they needed to grow. We are proud of the diversity of our leadership team and will continue to hire the best talent regardless of race, religion, gender and creed.”
Oddly, none of the press materials or the site itself say anything about what the platform considers its business model to be, which made me a little suspicious – from the screenshots, it looks like the platform is collecting a lot of very valuable data on the various startups, and the old adage is true: if you don’t pay for the product, you to be the product. By digging a little deeper, the team shed a little light on the roadmap:
“We have a multi-tiered business model that focuses on the demand side. Startups are free on our platform,” explains Pluschkell. “We will offer a subscription-based service that will provide opportunity providers (VCs, accelerators, educational institutions, companies, etc.) with a dashboard to StartupOS companies or enrolled portfolios to view, filter, create and connect watchlists with Startups on our platform . We have a sponsorship and referral model that allows ads to be placed on our site for companies that serve startups and provide discounted services.”
The company also has a “PowerUP Builder” that allows companies to create PowerUPs (tools that provide learning-by-doing exercises) that work within our platform and create initial awareness by providing a lightweight version of their business tools for startups. The idea is that this is lead generation, hoping the startups will subscribe to corporate services once they raise funds and continue their growth trajectory.
“Later next year, we plan to offer a data plan consisting of aggregated and anonymized data across specific industries, regions, business models and stages of a company’s lifecycle,” says Pluschkell. “For example, a financial services business customer with a StartupOS data plan can access the median revenue growth, cash burn, etc. of pre-series A financial services companies.”
Given how much startup information can be proprietary, I’d probably think twice about handing over a lot of my startup information to StartupOS.
I wonder if, given the incredible breadth of startups and the needs of different founders, StartupOS is capable of being as widely usable as it intends to be. SaaS companies can often play by a similar playbook, but hardware companies or companies operating in regulated spaces (fintech, medtech, etc.) often have a lot of variation in terms of what the “long pole in the tent” represents. It will be interesting to see if the platform can attract startups and if it can help them in a way that is ultimately efficient.
In any case, StartupOS is one to watch as it scoops up its first few startups and begins to prove its thesis.