January 15, 2018
Today, I’m excited to announce that Tech.Co has been acquired by MVF, an international publishing and tech company. MVF was founded in the UK by five friends in 2009, and has driven incredibly fast growth over the past 9 years. They opened an office in Austin, Texas and have expanded their workforce to over 400 staffers. Most importantly, we like them. They are incredibly excited about the Tech.Co brand, and have impressed us with their ability to scale businesses. Over the next few months we will work closely with the team at MVF to ensure a successful transition as the organization continues to build Tech.Co into a global brand.
It was over 11 years ago that I saw a need to better connect startups and innovators with the communities around them so they could connect for partnerships, funding, amplification, and support. My first cofounder, Eric Olson, and I launched “Tech Cocktail” events to connect the Chicago startup and technology ecosystem before products like Eventbrite, Twitter, and other social and organizational tools were readily available, yet we quickly amassed crowds of hundreds at each event. This was before city hubs like coworking spaces and accelerators were prevalent, so Tech Cocktail was the newly found glue to enable the community to connect and stick together, fostering important relationships between executives, startups, investors and the tech community. The reception was overwhelming – it was like we had poured fuel on the sparks of innovation that were igniting around Chicago, and people around the country saw the brilliant glow and invited us into other cities like D.C., Boston, Boulder, and beyond. The need was real and Tech Cocktail was the solution.
When Eric departed to pursue other things, a new partner stepped in with years of experience building and running community and product teams at AOL. Jen Consalvo and I expanded the national footprint of events, hosted conferences and festivals, created monthly leadership summits, hosted an interactive educational speaker series, wrote a book, and launched a daily news and resource platform with a new brand – Tech.Co. Our dream went beyond monthly cocktail events, and together we created a new vision for how we could help innovators everywhere.
The most common question we’ve receive through the years has been “how do you make money?” Our model evolved over time as the landscape changed, from ticket sales and sponsorships to online advertising, content marketing, and consulting. The constantly changing media landscape is relentless, so our seed funding part-way through our journey from the Zappos leadership of Tony Hsieh and Fred Mossler via the downtown Las Vegas revitalization efforts of the Downtown Project was particularly helpful as we adjusted, and readjusted. In the end, our persistent focus on delivering value to startups, our readers, and a lengthy list of fantastic organizations, from Fortune 50 companies to local economic development groups, is what allowed us to grow. Tech.Co has grown a readership of millions globally – not to mention the relationships forged from our in-person programs has changed people’s lives forever. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished with a smart, scrappy, slightly quirky, and nearly all remote team.
We are also incredibly grateful for all of those who believed in us.
The experiences and lessons Jen and I have gained since leaving AOL to build our own media brand have been numerous. I’d love to share them all here but we need to save something for the follow up to our first book, Startup Mixology. Needless to say, very little of it was easy. There were no silver bullets – we worked very, very hard to survive, grow and prosper. Some days were excruciating, while others were exciting – jumping out of bed to take on the world. Other days we slowly rolled out just to keep the wheels turning. But no matter what was happening, we wouldn’t have persisted if it wasn’t rewarding.
I can’t adequately express how hearing stories from founders, readers, and partners has provided fuel when it was most needed – thank you.
And of course, nothing gets you up in the morning like the understanding that a team of people are relying on you to lead the way. To the many outstanding people who have helped build Tech.Co, from our writers, editors, operations teams, program managers, developers, event managers, content contributors, sales, interns, partners, and volunteers – we thank you for jumping on this train for whatever period of time you were with us. I've also shared a few Tech Cocktail and Tech.Co memories on my personal website. We are grateful for everyone who has touched Tech Cocktail and Tech.Co and for the mark you left.
Jen and I will spend the next few months ensuring a successful transition of Tech.Co to MVF, while we continue our work advising, investing, speaking, and consulting with some of the most innovative organizations in tech and media. At heart, we’re creators, so you’re sure to see some new ventures arise. We’ll also work with some of our partners to grow Startup of the Year with big events again this year at SXSW, and Innovate Celebrate, two cornerstone programs in the startup & innovation world.
I am confident that in MVF’s hands, and with our guidance, Tech.Co will continue to provide the same great content and timely tech news that it has for the past 8 years, and with MVF’s specialist expertise, will reach a wider global audience. Jen and I look forward to watching it grow in the coming years while we take on new challenges of our own.
Building Tech.Co has been an 8+ year, full-time marathon (11+ years if you count the time it was a Tech Cocktail side-hustle). So you can definitely chalk this up to a 10+ year overnight success!
Now it is time for the next
Frank Gruber & Jen Consalvo
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