We are excited to announce our pick for thoughtbot’s first startup incubator program! Unlike other startup incubators, the thoughtbot program is for entrepreneurs who have a game changing software or app idea, but don’t have the technical expertise to build it.
In our 8 week program, a dedicated thoughtbot team works full-time with the entrepreneur to validate their customer market and create a product plan. At the end of the program, the participant will be prepared to achieve their next milestone, whether that is applying to an accelerator like Y Combinator, pitching to pre-seed investors, going for that grant, or hiring a technical leader. They’ll have the support and expertise of thoughtbot’s 20 years working with startups.
About the winning applicant
The first entrepreneur going through the thoughtbot Incubator is Agnes Malatinszky. Agnes is a former COO of an edtech startup that grew to serve over 22 million users. Most recently she was the Chief of Staff of a coding bootcamp. She’s an attorney by training, and has also worked in a product and go-to-market role at a global SaaS company.
Agnes’ product concept, Senga, is a business management in-a-box for independent contractors, consultants, and “solopreuneurs”. She identified this problem through her own solopreneur journey and working with friends who are full-time independent contractors.
“My customer is a solo business owner or full-time independent contractor whose area of work is primarily done through online services. I’ve researched whether there is already a vertical SaaS solution that caters to this market, done basic estimates of TAM, and done informal interviews with a handful of people who work in this space.”
Agnes’ initial research shows that solo freelancers must piece together half a dozen horizontal SaaS solutions: G Suite, Mailchimp, Stripe, Quickbooks, and so on. By one estimate, there are over 45 million solopreneurs in the US, and this number is only projected to rise.
How thoughtbot made the selection
The thoughtbot Incubator will follow a detailed program designed for pre-product market validation. Because of this, the team vetted not only for good ideas (of which there were many!), but also for someone at the perfect stage in their journey to get the most out of the program. Through the application and multiple interviews, our team used a rubric measuring for areas such as:
- Business clarity
- Level of pre-work
- Effort already invested
- Entrepreneur’s professional history
Agnes’ background as well as the stage and needs of Senga were the strongest match. Agnes lists her Incubator goals as:
- Narrow down target customers to a more manageable niche segment
- Experiment to validate interest in the value proposition and price point
- Reality check on short- and mid-term product roadmap and prioritization of MVP features
- Begin looking for a technical lead
What happens next
If you are reading this, Agnes is already under way in our Market and Customer validation exercises.
Follow along here on the blog as we post weekly updates about our progress. We will also be hosting regular LinkedIn Live conversations with the thoughtbot Incubator team and Agnes about what we’re up to. Make sure to follow us there if you don’t already.
If you’re excited about what we’re up to and think you might want to apply, we’ll be opening applications again on May 15th for the summer session, which will begin the first week of July. Learn more at tbot.io/incubator.