November 6, 2014
Once upon a time in London, Andrew Crump was seeking to raise funds for a company that he envisioned would help recreational sports teams organize themselves. This fundraising process for Bluefields, his fledgling startup, took a long time, Crump says, and he wishes he would have jumped straight into an accelerator much sooner. “If you are going to be a scalable startup,” he says, “accelerators make sense. You need to take the assumptions and ambiguities that exist at the initial stage, and ‘de-risk’ them as much as possible for a potential investor.” And an accelerator will help a startup take a look at these early questions and work them out quickly. “Utilize an accelerator to evaluate your market. I disagree with any advice that says to improve the product at this early stage. You should 100% join an accelerator and utilize its resources to prove your acquisition methods.”
In fact, in late 2011 they did try out for the opportunity to be funded through the Seedcamp Paris program. This involved a series of pitch events which constantly pared down finalists until a Demo Day event which brought 18 European startups to San Francisco in February of the following year. In short order, they met Dave McClure from 500 Startups and became a part of the accelerator’s Batch 4. “Seedcamp is pretty much a feeder for 500 Startups,” explains Crump.
A Move to the States
Crump quickly decided that a move to the U.S. was the right thing to do. “Many European startups do want to go to the States because it is a unified market.” But where would they settle down? They objectively reviewed several different cities, but after meeting Andy White from the VegasTechFund, making the move to Las Vegas was an even easier decision.
“I had Tony Hsieh’s book on pre-order, after hearing about it from Tim Ferriss. So the opportunity to be a part of what was being built in Downtown Las Vegas definitely resonated with me,” he shares. “We moved in three weeks.” They also raised $1M in seed funding from VegasTechFund and other resources, and instantly became involved in the community.
A Change in Branding
About a year later, Bluefields acquired the tools that an older product offered, and took its name: Mitoo. Previously, as Bluefields, the focus had been on enabling teams to organize. Now, as Mitoo has taken shape, Crump and cofounder Piers Rollinson are changing their acquisition strategy to target leagues, players, and parents with a focus on social sport. Currently, 80% of Mitoo users are UK soccer leagues of all ages and competition types, but Crump says a big announcement regarding a shift in focus is coming soon.
A Change in HQ
Another recent shift for Mitoo has been the decision to relocate the company to San Francisco. “We are a tech company,” Crump says. “And not only do we need to be able to quickly hire tech employees, but they must be the type of talent that understands startups.” This does not mean that he has changed his mind about Las Vegas. In fact, Andrew Crump and his family will remain in Las Vegas. “I love being a part of Downtown Project – the idea of being a part of something that’s bigger than oneself.”
“Las Vegas is the best place to be for any company that is focused on customer service – it’s why Zappos is there. It’s why the whole hospitality industry is thriving,” he says. “An e-commerce startup, or any startup focused on people should now and always be attracted to the idea of running that business in Las Vegas.” He also adds that seed-stage startups, even in the tech space, can also get a ton of very productive work done in Las Vegas and get a lot further along on early funding. The lower cost of living and the community support make it a great place for early traction.
“It balances out the same: Mitoo can pay for my increased living expenses in Silicon Valley, or pay for my travel between there and Las Vegas,” he adds. “This way, when I am in Vegas, I can be more present in the community, and when I am in San Francisco, I will be fully at work.”
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