Innovate Mississippi

Innovation Report 2017

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Growth X invested in WSN Live and Edge Theory, two fast-grow- i n g t e c h s t a r t u p s b a s e d i n Jackson, Mississippi. "Edge Theory and WSN Live are examples of companies we would never have known about as a typi- cal fund," Goldner said. "We've made it clear we're interested in founders wherever they are. We're not just sitting in San Fran - cisco and doing the usual. We're in Jackson, Knoxville, Cleveland, Dallas and Ann Arbor. And we're not just flying in looking for the best deals to steal, we want to be physically present." For Growth X, being present means helping the companies they invest in grow to their full potential. The investment group's founders all have experience in the founder/ startup space themselves. They believe their investments are most valuable when they can travel along- side a company as they go from the market acceleration phase to the series A funding round. Growth X startups go through a market acceleration program, which works on a reverse paywall. When a company is selected, instead of paying tuition for the program, Growth X writes the company an investment check averaging $50,000. The company will then go through an intensive program, where they pore over data to iden- tify the best customer profiles, opti- mize their value propositions, and develop, test and optimize sales and marketing campaigns. "If I write a $50,000 check to a startup with the standard 2-percent fee, I get $1,000 to care about a company," Goldner said. "Market acceleration means we give our time and resources to make our portfolio members more valuable. We peddle in the only form of insider trading that's allowed. We invest in success- ful companies, introduce them to more investors and help them grow." At the end of the day, Goldner said, Growth X wants to partner with founders who are solving prob- lems experienced by the majority of people – people in Jackson, Missis- sippi, and Cleveland, Ohio — instead of solving problems for inflated venture capital funds. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT O ne Silicon Valley seed fund is reversing the brain drain experienced by states such as Mississippi by working with promising startups in unlikely ZIP codes, includ - ing two Mississippi tech startups, to grow successful businesses in the communities that need them the most. This unique fund, Growth X, operates according to two principles, the first being a focus on customers. "Products don't create value, custom- ers do," said Andrew Goldner, Growth X cofounder. "Nothing happens until some- one sells something. In Silicon Valley, everything revolves around coding but not sales, marketing and user experience. Our expertise helps product-focused founders go to market." Secondly, the Growth X staff doesn't believe founders need to leave their homes to launch a successful company. "We're not trying to convince found- ers to move to Silicon Valley," Gold- ner said. "We want them to stay close to their community and create jobs in the comparatively low-cost communities they call home." When Mississippi tech startups begin to scale, it's not uncommon to see the found- ers uproot and move closer to their indus- try peers, whether in Nashville, Austin or Silicon Valley. Growth X is hoping to keep a few new startups in Mississippi. Growth X cofounder, Will Bunker, attended high school in Greenville, grad- uated from Mississippi State University, and has been a speaker and frequent collaborator with Innovate Mississippi. GROWTH X GROWS STARTUPS AT HOME ANDREW GOLDNER Growth X Cofounder 18

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