When I last left Archive Social CEO Anil Chawla, he had just been selected to the 2013 TiE50, a Valley organization that touts itself as recognizing the world’s most enterprising technology startups. He wrote up his experience while still at the conference, emailed it to me, and I put it up here.
For the record, I love when founders describe their journey in their own words, without all the marketing speak. Anil does this brilliantly.
Then, of course, I didn’t talk to him for nearly two months, minus the occasional I’m-too-busy-you’re-too-busy catchups when we were both in the same place at the same time.
I’ve known Anil for years. I’ve known him since he was at IBM with about a dozen ideas for companies, looking to hone in on that one that would get him out of Cubeville and into his own thing. I was thrilled when he left IBM to finally get going on his dream, and I followed up through his semester at Triangle Startup Factory, his NC IDEA win, and some big customer wins that came soon after.
I joke that I’m going to ride his coattails all the way to his IPO.
I’m only kidding a little.
But he had a very good reason to stay off my radar for a couple of months (and to be clear, I’m at least 50% of the problem – I’m also at a startup and we’re also heads down).
In that time Archive Social has been building up their customer base, moving into the freshly-opened Underground @Main, and also being one of just five startups accepted into the four-month Code for America Accelerator program.
This is the second run of the CFA accelerator, and the second accelerator for Archive Social. But make no mistake, Anil is not accelerating his way through his business. In fact, his first impression when a friend told him he should apply, was: “Ah, one accelerator is enough.”
But after a cursory look, he noted that the $25K awarded with the program was equity-free. That got him reading. And as he read he began to notice an almost-perfect alignment of the focus of the Code for America program and his plans for the next several months.
Code for America is private non-profit, it’s not a government entity, and it’s funded by Google and Kauffman Foundation. The accelerator focuses on “civic startups” — companies with a focus on disrupting the public sector with modern, innovative technology.
Along with the $25K equity-free grant, Archive Social will spend a week at the CFA HQ in San Francisco each month for four months starting August 12th. They’ll receive mentoring from high-caliber folks like last year’s mentors Tim O’Reilly, who was one of Archive Social’s interviewers, and Caterina Fake.
The session culminates with the Code for America Summit on October 15th, where the accelerated companies get to pitch to folks like Eric Ries.
Archive Social’s acceptance is also a win for the Triangle startup environment.
“Our relationships in this community helped us a lot in this process,” Anil says. “Through people we knew here, we made several connections that helped us navigate the application and interview process. If the startup hub wasn’t already here, those connections would never have happened.”
Top of mind for Archive Social going into the program is to build customer base, indirectly, directly, and even outside of the program. But like a lot of startups, Anil’s biggest problem is that no one knows who Archive Social is.
This should change that.
Code for America has lots of connections at the Federal level. There are a number of people in government who are very outspoken about social media and the things that Anil does. They need to know that Archive Social exists.
“We’re definitely going to San Francisco and the Code for America headquarters on a mission,” Anil says. “I’ll be honestly asking for their help on the top two or three issues most important to our company; issues related to future product direction and key industry relationships we would like to foster.”
In the meantime, Archive Social continues to grow, stating nearly 30% revenue growth in June and their sights on breaking through the 100 customer barrier in the next few months. Just yesterday, they launched a “Sample your archive in 60 seconds” feature on their website that they think will help accelerate customer adoption. And they’re hiring a Lead Software Engineer and Lead Generation Specialist.