It can take 10 years to become an overnight success. At least, that’s what it took for Jen and I to build Tech Cocktail into TechCo and eventually be acquired.
In December 2017, MVF acquired TechCo. When we first shared the news, we indicated that my co-founder and I would work with some of our partners to grow Startup of the Year and Innovate Celebrate, our two cornerstone programs in the startup and innovation world. Like most entrepreneurs, we were anxious to have it all figured out right away. But good things take time, so while it took a bit longer, I’m excited to share more with you now.
After over a decade of building a media company focused on entrepreneurship, innovation and the communities that support both, we’ve decided to launch a new organization committed to discovering, promoting, connecting, building, and funding innovation that can change the world for the better. Our mission is to establish innovative thinking, ideas, and companies, wherever we can. With that, we are excited to unveil Established.
The day any project or organization is established marks the beginning of something with unlimited potential – a never ending story of possibility. We always want to remind people of that, whether they are just getting started, reaching new heights, or approaching things differently, there's always more you can do. Because everyone has an established by date – and we want to help you along the way.
We’ve been witness to the steady convergence between media and marketing agencies. We’ve seen media companies launch their own studios, like Vox creating Vox Creative. We've seen agencies launch or acquire their own media companies, like Vaynermedia acquiring PureWow. In similar fashion, the team behind TechCo often went beyond basic advertising and sponsorships, developing programs and executing on specific projects for other organizations, acting as a creative agency and consultancy in many ways.
Over the years our industry knowledge enabled us to work with cities, organizations, and corporations to create programs that help them accomplish their various goals. We scouted startups for large companies, created educational programs to drive innovation, and even helped urban development efforts as they worked to attract and support entrepreneurial talent. From Northern Virginia to downtown Las Vegas, and now Tampa Bay – where we’re assisting in the development of the innovation hub called Embarc Collective – we’ve been working behind the scenes to guide the trajectory of various entrepreneurial community programs.
We’re proud that our team has collectively worked with organizations like NASA, CTA, Kauffman Foundation, American Airlines, IBM, JP Morgan Chase, Neustar, Google, Revolution, Microsoft, Paypal, Tesla, and many others. When organizations have a mission to work with entrepreneurs and the ecosystems around them to drive internal innovation in new ways, we feel right at home.
Since 2006, we’ve personally been working with startups in communities around the country. We want to remain hands-on in the startup world by building on our Startup of the Year program, which has seen hundreds of startups over the years, collectively contributed millions of dollars in funds to the economy, and thousands of jobs around the globe.
The many people who helped build TechCo over the years also fostered a culture of inclusivity in our events and programs, and Startup of the Year is now a shining star. This year’s applicants reached 47% female founders and 45% minority founders from 40 states and 38 countries. We’ll be announcing our top 100 companies soon and I promise you there are many incredible gems in this group.
However, as we discovered over the years, it’s frustrating to offer this tremendous platform to such amazing entrepreneurs, yet not be able to offer them direct investment funds to help propel them even further. Not long ago, we started a pilot program, building a small investment community around the Startup of the Year top companies which continues to grow and gain traction. We’re committed to finding more supporters who will help us fund these new ventures that are so important to our economy and job creation.
Connecting IRL (In Real Life)
Unlike most other media properties, we didn’t start off with daily content, then look into how we could build events around it.
I started producing “Tech Cocktail” events first, and used them as news on a website we built to support the growing networking series. We knew immediately that the real secret sauce in everything we did was bringing like-minded people together. So with that in mind, Established will be co-producing Innovate Celebrate with our partner, CTA, in Boston this October, and returning to highlight startups from around the world at CES and SXSW in 2019.
While we’re transitioning out of TechCo, we’ve left it in great hands with MVF. Every ending marks a new beginning, and we’ve never been more excited about our vision going forward. Let’s continue this journey together! Look for my new podcast soon on frankgruber.me and find us on our other properties like Established, Startup of the Year, and Innovate Celebrate. We hope to see you soon!