A Startup’s Journey on the Road to Tech Cocktail’s Celebrate Conference

September 18, 2014

3:00 pm

What does it take for a startup to make it to our annual Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference? At a very base level, it takes a win at one of our local Tech Cocktail Mixer & Startup Showcases, but that’s only a small part of the equation.

Simply winning can’t compensate for mental preparedness, determination, and an iron willpower to succeed. The trick is uniting all of these aspects together, pitch better than you’ve ever pitched before, and take home $10,000 and the title of ‘Nation’s Hottest Showcasing Startup’.

It’s no easy deal, and for a local San Diego company the journey is headed up the mountain towards the peak – victory so close they can almost taste it. I sat down with HouseCall’s Roland Ligtenberg to talk about the strategies he and his team are implementing to reach the summit and plant the flag of victory.

Tech Cocktail: What was your official first Tech Cocktail appearance?

Roland Ligtenberg: We went to the San Diego Mixer & Startup Showcase in May where we took home a victory.

Tech Cocktail: What was the road leading up to the event back in May?

Ligtenberg: We were looking to find different places where we could get early-adopters for our platform. Often, at tech events and mixers, we would network with like-minded folks and see if there was anything we could spin in terms of partnerships or establishing value for HouseCall.

I’ve personally participated in different events hosted by CommNexus and EvoNexus, and so I decided to apply to the Tech Cocktail event when I heard you guys were coming through. The fun thing is, when you’re pitching in a competition against others, it feels good to have your idea validated by early-adopters.

These are the people who build the curve of users for your app. And now we’re in the stage past early-adopters: there are mainstream suburban moms using our app. Our road leading up to the event was trying to figure out how we could tap the crowd to 1) get more people and 2) further validate our idea.

Tech Cocktail: How is the HouseCall team prepping for Celebrate in October?

Ligtenberg: The way we’re getting pumped is by reading aloud silly little things like support emails penned by happy customers. To know we’re doing the right thing, and to know that we’re successful in San Diego, is exhilarating and it lets us know we can be successful anywhere: even Downtown Vegas.

We’ve been looking at the map of our users and we see that there are tons of users not even in San Diego that have signed up for HouseCall, put their credit card in the platform, and are eagerly awaiting our expansion into their territory. The combo of seeing all of those things and seeing the hard data gets us pumped beyond belief for October.

Tech Cocktail: Aside from the obvious ‘W’, what are you hoping to get out of Celebrate?

Ligtenberg: It’s really about being able to inspire other startups that are pitching as well. Whoever wins should really carry that title and literally become a big winner. They have a unique opportunity to show that, hey if we can do it so can you.

That within itself validates that you’re part of a special group of people. We all worked incredibly hard to get to Celebrate, and it’s important to remember that at the end of the day we’re all the elite of the elite.

Tech Cocktail: Heading into Celebrate, what are you most proud of about HouseCall?

Ligtenberg: We just hit a major milestone – in the last week we brought in more revenue than we did in our first 6 months of operation. It goes to show how fast you can grow, and we’re not on auto-pilot, but we can look at the numbers on the board and see that we’re absolutely blowing up. It’s getting us pumped for Celebrate.


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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America’s Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He’s the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he’s off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing…or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach.

Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988

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