The Missoula-based online dating app Charmed has charmed its way into Techstars, an American seed accelerator for startup companies. In short, Techstars invests in young companies like Charmed until it gets its feet on the ground.
The free app currently has 630 user accounts.
As an investor, Techstars puts forward $100,000, then when the company earns its valuation, the debt converts to equity, said Charmed Spokeswoman Jackie Rapetti.
Founders Taylor Margot, David Blanchard, Jack Peterson and staff participate in the upcoming three-month program in Boulder, Colorado until late April.
Designed to help online daters easily share their dating match profiles with advice-worthy friends, Charmed is one of 10 companies selected for the Techstars Class of 2020.
The intensive workshop allows entrepreneurs to work with mentors, culminating in a Demo Day presentation in April. Margot, whose on-stage delivery conveys a bit more informality and levity than most hard-core, data-heavy startups, has high hopes for his team in Denver.
“I want to take emotions and translate them into a product that really delivers something meaningful,” Margot told the Missoula Current. “We’re excited to learn and grow from the many connections we make at Techstars.
Founded in 2006, Techstars boasts offices around the world and works to connect companies with a local mentor community, ultimately helping entrepreneurs succeed.
“Our team is excited to implement new ideas and hit the ground running,” said Margot. “If something doesn’t work, even better. It’s all a learning process and we look forward to finding out more about our users, who our target audience is, and how we can make online dating a less isolating and more meaningful social experience for everyone.”
The Charmed app is designed to help people land and go on more – and higher quality – dates. What separates the app from real-life, face-to-face discussions with a friend is “the level of engagement,” said Margot, an experienced dater.
It integrates with popular dating apps like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble and invites friends to participate in each other’s online dating lives.
Charmed users “suggest” replies for each other’s matches and, if accepted, the “suggestion” is sent straight to the match. However, app users do not need to be single or even on a dating app to use Charmed.
While in Denver, the team will have access to a huge network of resources.
“We’re currently going through what’s called “Mentor Madness,” said Margot. “Our team is meeting with 50 plus business/entrepreneur/exec leaders this week and next. We’ll ultimately be paired with 3-to-5 key mentors who will work with us throughout the next three months as we keep building, iterating, and learning along the way.”
As accelerators become more popular, they boost start-up potential for raising growth capital.
“It’s all about doing things quickly, efficiently, and implementing our learnings or findings on a moment’s notice so that our company can continue to grow in a way that makes sense,” said Margot. “It’s also wonderful to have a community that will continue to support us and cheer our team on as we build our business.
The Techstars program includes alumni startups ClassPass, DigitalOcean, Sphero and SendGrid.
Techstars fronts a $20,000 stipend for Charmed to live in Boulder during the workshop duration. The team includes six Missoula residents who have already moved there temporarily, plus one team member based in Denver.
The team also includes Jackie Rapetti, Kassi Strong, Krister Kroll and Walter Funke.
Montana High Tech Business Alliance tabbed Charmed as a “Montana Startup to Watch 2019.” The Charmed team, along with other tech startups from across Montana, pitched its product at the Early Stage annual Statewide Showcase last November at the Wilma Theater.
“The point isn’t ‘award money’ at the end,” said Margot. “It’s more about the resources/networking/mentorship along the way. Ultimately, we will be pitching our product to investors during what’s called Demo Day. At that point, we can have conversations with investors who may be interested in Charmed, but there is no ‘award’ that we’re competing for at this point.”
Contact Renata Birkenbuel at 406-565-0013 and firstname.lastname@example.org.