Sumo Cast 012 - Michael Girdley





Today’s podcast episode is on Michael Girdley, an investor and startup mentor in the San Antonio area. Michael is the CEO of the Codeup, an author of several programming books and the cofounder of Geekdom Fund.

Through Codeup and Geekdom Fund, Michael reaches out to the major San Antonio area by helping mentor others in coding, and help the people in San Antonio reach their goals.

01:10    Michael has always had an entrepreneurial streak, coming from a family of entrepreneurs. His father in particular had a small family business and lived and breathed it. Michael  enjoys following the story of how a company gets built.

02:05    Michael describes his grandfather as a reluctant entrepreneur, but describes his father as a driven entrepreneur determined to succeed.

03:45    Michael likes the funding and investing business and thats why he stuck with it. He describes the pitfall of angels investing and how you can put money into companies and never hear from them again and then realize investing is not as cool as they thought it would be.

05:15    The media has portrayed investing in a poor way in his opinion. He doesn't really blame the angels, he blames the general lack of knowledge in the tech press as being the cause of poor education of the public.

07:10    He uses the analogy of how a carpenter would see everything as a nail when he has a hammer in his hand to describe how various investors may not quite understand what they are investing in.

08:26    Michael is from San Antonio. He feels there are two types of people in the world, users and builders. He spent time in San Francisco and felt he was a user of the city and its environs, but he discovered that there is a lot more meaning to be found in building something and  being there from the beginning. That is why he loves being in San Antonio. He is building something from the ground up.

10:33    He feels that at the core of San Antonio there is a good number of ‘do-ers’ from a start up leadership viewpoint. He does feel though he would like to see a good number more of these people ‘grow’ into San Antonio and see it as the place to make their dreams a reality.

14:03    Michael thinks the San Antonio startup scene is growing. There are more mentors and startups going to San Antonio. Though a lot of startups are still going to popular cities like Austin, he advocates building a startup community in smaller cities with and having a startup comunity. He thinks there is a lack of "do-ers" that are American that are moving to San Antonio. He feels that many "do-ers" from Mexico are continuing to move to San Antonio. He sees little things happening in the media where it refers to San Antonio in various articles, which helps to build a positive profile for the city.

17:08    Michael's company is Geekdom Fund is a seed stage fund that operates similar to other VCs. They source deals through network and referrals and focus on early stage IT. They have never invested in a cold email. He thinks the best way to get into a VC is to get a referral. If you can’t get that referral it’s unlikely they will be interested in investing in the company. They are looking for early entry IT deals with a large exit.

19:32    Michael defines IT as where silicon and circuits are used to solve a business or personal problem. They avoid biotech and drugs. They only invest in the things that they can understand. They stick to what they know very well.

21:35    He feels people who come to talk to him must have a clear answer on who the customer for the product will be. He feels if the business can’t be sold to him, then how can it be sold to a customer?

23:15    There is also a problem when the acquisition costs for new customers are prohibitive. So theres a lot of businesses where its impossible to market efficiently.

25:20    He sees the pull back of Angel Investing fund money has brought sanity back to the investment market as big trend emerging at the moment. Michael also feels it has a positive effect on the calibre of startup founders that are appearing at the moment.

27:45    Michael is all for changing people’s mind if he detects that their idea is not great. The great entrepreneurs don’t bring valuation argument into anything, better to get the funding and go back to work.

29:24    Startups that are exciting him right now: one is a company called Medspoke - they are solving the problem of getting credentials for doctors to move between hospitals.

31:12    He feels that when you solve a big problem for people in a valuable market its very easy to make back your capital.

31:48    He has been working really hard to try to get better at cultivating a high quality network of people. He believes in quality of connections over quantity of connections. He prefers working one on one with people to build his network.

33:22    He got injured in January, but normally he would rise at 4:45 to go to the gym (yes that’s 4:45 AM)

34:18    The Geekdom Fund is always looking for something good to invest in, but don’t email Michael. Email somebody he knows to get the referral!

34:44    He is CEO of Code Up in Antonio. It’s one of a handful of really elite training programs that turns people into coders.