Grocio.com Wins $30,000. Now What?
Think of it as a local TechCrunch50. The Tulsa Spirit Awards were very similar – 100 startups enter and a handful win cash awards. Everyone’s business is better for the process. (Yes, my startup Grocio.com won top prize. More on that below.)
The main differences? No big on-stage dog and pony and it was put on here in Tulsa by Tulsans. Yes, you heard that right – Tulsa, Oklahoma! See! You shouldn’t be flying over next time. Stop and stay a while! I’ve said it many times before to Dave Winer and Robert Scoble… Native Tulsans have a mutated risk-taking gene and it’s a nod back to the day when people settled the Indian Territories (I’m native american btw) and started exploring for oil and building toll bridges across the Arkansas river. We’ve been taking “life and limb” sized risks since day one of this city. We’re entrepreneurs genetically.
Spirit Bank and the Kauffman Foundation were kind enough to put up prize money + resources galor. Maurice Kanbar was nice enough to put up office space. The Tulsa Metro Chamber, TEDC and many others have offered terrific resources as well along the way.
Leaders from all disciplines within the Tulsa community rallied behind our mayor and Sean Griffin (for the second time now) to fortify our business plans and impart their lessons and wisdom. Their leadership and commitment through this process was extraordinary. I said it before the awards, I’ve said it since will say it now and maintain it all along the circuit –
If you’re a startup, there is no better place in America to startup than right here in Tulsa. The resources are tremendous. The cost of living is spot on. The economy is positive and we’re upbeat about the immediate future. Plus our commutes (or lack of) will probably cinch it for you. Don’t just put us on a checklist to evaluate. Come visit. There are lots of us who would happily be your guide and show you around. What other city will do that for you!?
Grocio.com next moves?
Lot’s of people have asked, “Have you spent all that money yet?” In my mind I’ve spent it a couple times over. But, no, I haven’t spent any of it. There are a few modest obligations that I’m very grateful to have been able to postpone until some funding arrived. IOU’s in other words. So, those are first order of business. Outside of that we’re into the next phase of the business plan – hardcore development. We’re now on the path to get from prototype to production. That will burn through a bit of the award money and we’ll find ourselves at the next round of funding in short order.
“$30,000 or $60,000?” We’ve won $30,000. We’re in the process of earning a match from i2E. In January/February I’m expecting to have good news to announce along these lines. I have no reason to believe we won’t be awarded the matching funds.
The inevitable question, “Did you quit your day job?” NO WAY! and am making no plans of doing so. My employer has been really understanding the past several months and naturally curious about all the recent press and what my intentions were/are. If you’ve ever had a side business you know there are boundaries to respect. Don’t ever lose sight of that. Trust me, I know it’s hard. But, there’s a lot at stake and frankly… you have to keep in mind who’s paying the bills. To do otherwise says a fair bit about your character and how you might run your outside venture. Enthusiasm is great. Don’t let it make you a sloppy business leader. P’s & Q’s…
“Are you talking to VC?” Only every opportunity I get. If you’re looking to invest in a cool new startup with a bunch of new found street cred… Call me (918) 813-9745
“When does Grocio.com open for business?” We’re open now for FREE pre-registration. There’s even a screencast that shows some of what it is we’re going to unveil and how it’s going to work. The comparison shopping side of the operation opens in February ’09. November ’08 was my target. But, because we were so tight in on the holiday shopping period with a lot of work to be accomplished and with a lot on the line… we’ll waive off and fire up the engines in February ’09. Still, registration is free and those are the people who will be notified first once we’re on final approach.
“What grocery stores will you have? What’s the geography?” We have three really large branded grocers on board now. There’s not a grocer in America we’ll turn away. Just yesterday a north California chain came calling. I’ve talked to one store operations up to the largest there is. Talk us up to your local grocer and chum the water for us. OK?
The media has been a great friend through all of this. So, to answer the “Are you willing to talk with us on the record?” ABSOLUTELY. No segment, article or blog is off limits. Go to Grocio.com and all my contact info is there.
[EDIT: Recieved a few DM’s at Twitter asking for the behind the scenes of the Spirit Awards. Someting to address – What goes on behind closed doors? There’s my next writing assignment. Stay tuned.]
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