Candl Monthly Update #27 – May 19th, 2017

 

Defining a new category.


Ask For Help

CANDL Seed Round – We are getting very close to opening our seed funding round for CANDL. If you are interested in learning more about this round, please email us at investors@candl.com or email me directly at tom@candl.com.

Seed Round Roadshow – Starting right after Memorial Day, CANDL will be on the road meeting with investors across the country. I will be reaching out to many of you and many other potential seed round investors to set up meetings over the next 4-6 weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in person again!

Successes

1. After months of negotiations, we were able to obtain the URL www.candl.com! We’ve migrated everything to that domain, but our previous domains (www.getcandl.com and www.candl.co) both still work.

2. We’ve added several new team members to CANDL! See below for more details, but we’ve added two people on the engineering side and two people on the go-to-market side.

3. We completely nailed the Georgia Tech ATDC Startup Showcase FastPitch event! We were honored to present to over 300 investors, mentors, entrepreneurs and business folks from Atlanta, the Southeast, and beyond at this great event. I remember sitting in the audience with my co-founder a year ago saying we’d be on that stage next year.

4. We’ve made good progress on our go-to-market, business development and engineering strategy plans. More on that below.

Challenges

David Farmer, our Sr. VP Software and lead architect, fell very ill 3 weeks before Demo Day. We didn’t know what was wrong other than he was in and out of the hospital with blood transfusions to offset some significant internal bleeding.

We didn’t know how long he would be sick – the doctors didn’t know what was wrong for weeks.

The good news is they now know what is wrong and he’s well on the road to recovery. David should be well enough to do some light work in a few weeks, and is expected to make a full recovery. Indeed, the doctors say he’ll actually be healthier than he’s been in almost a decade.

To make up for the engineering time lost, we’ve brought in two new engineers to work on the CANDL platform. They are building out the full stack of services that will eventually interface to multiple virtual SIM provisioning technologies, including the ones that David was working on.

We’ve also engaged a carrier integration specialist and a firmware/kernel expert – both of whom used to work with my co-founder in his last role. They have been helping him build a prototype/demo system to demonstrate the carrier switching technology.

While this was definitely a setback, I want to share a few things we learned:

– The co-founder was able to bring together four engineers, all of whom are not only complimentary to one another but also to David, so together they create a solid full-stack engineering team with a range of skills and experience. He did this in about a week’s time.

– We are deeply committed to the health and wellness of our employees – and ourselves. We’ve all taken a look at our own health and have each started to make some changes in our lives to make sure we can all function at our best.

– There are very few people in the world who can do what David does. That underscores how deep of a moat we can dig around our technology.

Action Plan

1. Finalize Investor Presentation & Due Diligence files for seed round
2. Complete the prototype/demo system
3. Customer Discovery – surveys, empathy interviews, etc.
4. Get David healthy and back into the fray!

 


 

Monthly Highlights

Returning Home

While we miss Boulder A LOT, there’s no place like home. I think I slept 12 hours a night for nearly a week when I got home, but it was wonderful waking up to my kids every day. We spent a few days re-integrating with our families but honestly there was no slow-down in our efforts as we held an engineering kickoff meeting with four new engineers just 48 hours after I pulled into the garage for the first time in 4 months.

There’s No Place Like Home.

Doubling the Team from 4 to 8 at CANDL 

Over the past 4 weeks we’ve welcome several new folks to Team CANDL. On the engineering side, we’ve brought in two software engineers – Tee Parham and Michael Guida. Tee is an expert in software engineering, software product design, data modeling, process automation, data integration, spatial information, and interaction design. Michael just graduated from the University of Colorado with a B.S. in Computer Science. Professionally, he has experience frontend and backend web development, as well as mobile applications.

On the go-to-market side, we have been working with Kelly Coyne as a lead mentor for CANDL since week 3 of Techstars. When we made the pivot, Kelly really began focusing a lot of time and energy on helping us figure out how to bring this carrier store to life. By the end of Techstars it was crystal clear she was destined to be a part of Team CANDL. We’ve brought her on as a consultant along with Kate Mitchell, a digital communications and customer engagement specialist who has worked with Kelly for years.

Tee and Michael are both based in Boulder, Kelly is in San Francisco, and Kate is in Los Angeles.

We also have two more high-level engineers who are working with the co-founder on a temporary basis, and we hope to have longer-term contracts in place with them soon.

Georgia Tech ATDC Showcase

On May 11th, CANDL was invited to present at the 2017 ATDC Showcase. More than 800 investors, corporate partners, entrepreneurs and researchers converged on the Georgia Tech Convention Center to see what’s new out of Georgia Tech’s accelerator program. CANDL was invited to present as part of the FastPitch event, and we definitely woke up the crowd!

After presenting to 1400 people on the Boulder Theatre stage, this audience of about 300 was far less intimidating, but just as enthused about what we’re building.

CANDL at the ATDC FastPitch Event at ATDC.

Customer Discovery – an Ongoing Process

Our go-to-market team has also been hard at work in dissecting and learning more about who our real customers will be. A carrier store can take many shapes, and depending on the supply side of things, could begin in many places. Kelly, Nicole, and Kate have been surveying and interviewing hundreds of people to learn more about which customers we should target first and how to best reach them.

They’ve learned some really interesting things in the process:

– ALMOST HALF of Millennials surveyed in the US have thought about switching their mobile plan in the last 6 months.
– Half of people who have thought of switching carriers said their bill was too high.
– 83% of Millennials have changed a SIM card in their phone, compared to 53% of 35+ year olds.

Crunching the numbers – Domestic Market.

We also surveyed international travelers – both silent roamers and people who connect via roaming or local SIM cards while abroad. We focused on people who travel to the United States.

– More than half said they needed/wanted to connect but couldn’t while traveling
– TWO THIRDS of those surveyed said they would be likely to use our carrier store – WOW

Crunching the numbers – International Travelers.

Preparing for the Seed Raise Roadshow

With the engineering team working hard on building out the prototype and platform, and the go-to-market team helping us dial in our customer base, we’ve also been preparing to open a seed round to raise the funding to take CANDL to market. We successfully raised $615K in pre-seed funding to help us dial in the technology and marketing strategy, but we need more fuel to get to product launch early next year, build our IP portfolio, and begin generating revenue.

To date, we have $750K in early commitments to our seed raise. We’re planning to visit investors in Denver/Boulder, NYC, Chicago, SF, Dallas, Austin, and Charlotte.

We’ll be finishing up our seed round documentation next week. If you would like to learn more about CANDL, email me at tom@candl.com.


 

Closing Thought: The Marathon. 

Step by Step. Mile by Mile. 

At Techstars, they warned us that we’d suffer from a Techstars hangover. We did. I slept 12 hours a night for a week when I got home. But the worst part was the isolation I felt working from my home office alone after being surrounded by 50+ high-performing superstars from 13 companies. Techstars was a 13-week sprint – a fast one.

But here’s the thing. We’ve just run the first mile of a marathon.

While I think it’d be impossible to keep up the pace and cadence we held during program, I KNOW we’re moving faster and more efficiently than we could have without the Techstars experience.

We’re finding a new pace now. We’ve built an entire process around Conscious Leadership, Kan-Ban, and Lean Startup. We’re learning how to work remotely with a team of 10 located in 7 cities. And we’re finding ways to communicate effectively with one another – sometimes the hard way and sometimes more naturally.

We’re a team built for the long-haul. We know that first mile sets the pace, but it’s the last mile that counts the most.

Cheers,
-tom