Candl Investor Weekly Update #21 – March 17th, 2017


#GiveFirst – the Techstars Way (or what to do with 250 sticky notes).

Ask For Help

LAST CHANCE TO HELP – If you haven’t already, please vote for CANDL in the StreetShares Veteran Small Business Competition! If you’ve already voted, please ask ONE FRIEND to vote for us. We’re only a few dozen votes behind and in 2nd place. Competition closes Sunday night, and we really want to win this award. We’re donating 50% of the proceeds to a charity that helps refugees get connected. Help us push the #givefirst mindset.


1. We’re focusing on finalizing signatures and collecting checks from our awesome investors in the pre-seed round. A BIG THANK YOU from all of us at CANDL to all of the investors who are helping CANDL begin the transition from an idea to a technology, and ultimately to a product.

2. Our Demo Day pitch work has started. We’ll be able to share more about what we’re doing then. This will be a must-watch presentation!

3. We’ve really started to dial in the details on both the technology and go-to-market fronts for our new software-only approach. Each day we gain more and more confidence that what we’re building will change the mobile industry.


1. The technology behind what we’re building is exceptionally complicated. We’re going to need a bigger team to build all of this out. We know how to do it, but having the resources to actually do it is another thing.

2. At this point I’ve given up on tracking KPIs that Techstars looks for during the weekly Operations Review meetings. I just don’t know what to track at the moment other than progress towards patent, prototype, and funding. The tools we’ve learned for tracking KPIs will be useful later on.

3. Going through this pivot has forced us to re-evaluate everything about our go-to-market (GTM) strategy. While we have some good ideas, we don’t have the same level of confidence around our GTM we had with the hardware product. Getting our GTM right will take some time, and luckily we have some fantastic mentors thinking about this with us every day. The good news here is the size of market opportunity is 10x larger than we had with the hardware product, so if we get this right it will be worth the hard work we’re putting into GTM right now.

Action Plan

1. Collect signatures and checks from the Pre-Seed Round (Tom)

2. Filing the patent(s) with Cooley (the co-founder)

3. Second draft of Demo Day pitch due this week (Tom)

4. Develop new go-to-market strategy (Kelly, Nicole, Tom, the co-founder)

5. Prepare prototype for Demo Day (David, the co-founder)


Weekly Highlights

David Cohen’s Visit!

David Cohen is the co-founder and co-CEO of Techstars. You’d think we would get more face time with him and the rest of the Techstars leadership team (which is based here in Boulder), but truthfully we don’t see them often. They are busy running 25 programs around the planet on 5 continents (and growing).

But this week David came to work with the cohort on fundraising and financial planning. His talk was phenomenal, and – in my opinion – taps the core strength of Techstars.

David role-playing investor with Evan (Monday), Nathan (Hardbound), and Murad (Stateless).

Techstars companies are notoriously good at fundraising. I came to Techstars having successfully raised angel funding in a previous startup, but David’s talk gave us invaluable tools to build better momentum in rounds and better reflect the concerns that investors have before committing to a round.

No MBA program in the world could touch what we learned this week.

News from the Cohort

The first and only non-profit organization to ever go through Techstars is in our cohort. Global EIR helps international entrepreneurs and students get the visas they need to build new companies in the United States. Their work is more important than ever, and they’re getting noticed.

Global EIR and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel

This week Craig an Chris went to Chicago where Mayor Rahm Emmanuel announced seven universities from around Chicago would be starting up a new chapter of the Global EIR program. Super excited for Craig and Chris, and for all of the hard work they’ve put into making this happen.

On a related note, one of our companies, Attentive, which is based in Portugal, ran into serious visa problems in January. Only Daniel, the CEO was allowed to come to the US from Portugal to attend Techstars. His co-founders, all of whom had the same case worker, were flagged and denied a temporary work visa.

Global EIR, members of the US House of Representatives, and several high-level State Department officials all intervened on behalf of Attentive, but the prospects of getting the rest of the team to the US in time to participate in Techstars was looking grim.

Daniel handled it in stride and ran his company remotely, trying to translate (literally) what he was learning here to their work processes in Portugal.

But just this week, the team got the great news that they were finally cleared to come to Boulder, and they’re here now!

The Attentive team – finally all together here in Boulder after 8 weeks of waiting!



Closing Thought

Demo Day 

Long before I thought we would ever actually stand a chance to be accepted to Techstars, even long before I thought about CANDL, I had a secret dream to one day give a Techstars Demo Day presentation (and also give a TED talk). And on April 19th, we’ll present CANDL to a packed audience of 1200 people.

Bucket list item: check.

What we will be presenting has changed significantly. Instead of showing off a hardware device and talking about our Alpha and Beta test programs, we’ll be talking about how we’re going to change the face of mobile telecom forever.

But the WHY has never changed, and it’s the WHY that drives all of us at CANDL forward. It doesn’t matter to us how complicated, difficult, challenging, or unprecedented the path in front of us becomes.

We have a mission to make connectivity a fundamental human right across the globe. 

When you have your WHY, the HOW and the WHAT get easier.

CANDL has our WHY, and we’re excited to share it with all of you and everyone else on April 19th.