BTU #78 – Josh Carter: TechStars, Operation Code, Patriot Bootcamp and more

“ Stop worrying about the beta, and just get the product out. If you are not embarrassed by your first product, then you’re doing it wrong. It should be ugly, it should be clunky, it should be what you think it should be… but less. And once you get it in the hands of the customer, the customer is going to tell you what they like and what they don’t like. And that’s what we realized – we were trying to be perfectionists. You want your product to be perfect, but you make these assumptions that it’s going to be valuable. And the best way to do that is get it in the hands of the customer who will tell you if they find value in it.”
– Josh Carter

Josh Carter is the Co-Founder & CEO of Brightwork, a microservices platform that enables developers to build faster on a reliable and scalable solution. Since their founding they’ve raised over $300K in funding and have gone through Techstars in Chicago. Josh started out in the Navy, where he served for about 3 years. Since his time in the Navy he’s held multiple engineering roles in the Telecom industry and eventually a Senior Support Engineer at the startup, Twilio, a communication startup that went public earlier this year. Josh founded his own digital marketing agency – Plunk – and is also a former founding board member of Operation Code.

The top reason to listen to today’s show is:

  • Support – Josh has been living in the startup world for a while, and has a great overview of different resources available for other veteran entrepreneurs. In particular, he talks about TechStars, and gives a fantastic overview of this 3 month program, as well as Patriot Bootcamp and other great resources.
    In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

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Selected Links

  • Twilio
  • Brightwork.io
  • Plunk
  • TechStars – this was a great help for Josh in starting a venture backed company. It is a 3-month program offered all over the United States. They take 6% of the company in exchange for $120,000 in funding.
  • FounderCon – all TechStar founders get together for one year
  • Patriot Bootcamp – offshoot of the TechStars core program. It’s a one weekend program that is very intense, but very targeted in preparing veterans for entrepreneurship
  • Operation Code – Chris was a founding board member; they help transitioning veterans get into coding – finding mentors and sharing advice for becoming a programmer
  • Resources
    • Meetup.com – Coffee with CoFounders – lowkey get togethers are rotating coffee shops for founders to connect with each other and talk about what they’re struggling with

Show Notes

  • 1:45 – Josh’s background
  • 2:30 – When Josh knew he would leave the military and how he approached this decision
  • 3:20 – What Josh’s first job search looked like and how he found the Art Academy to be different than he expected. He talks about how he found his way to the Telecom industry
  • 4:23 – An overview on the Telecom industry and the sorts of jobs Josh held
  • 5:16 – An overview of Josh’s work at Brightwork, as well as the engagements he held before then
  • 7:57 – What it was like for Josh to be actively employed at Twilio while running his own digital agency
  • 9:15 – The moment when Josh first had the idea of Brightwork
  • 11:55 – An overview of TechStars and how Josh ended up in Chicago
  • 15:28 – How TechStars provides an investment of $125k for 6% of the company
  • 17:38 – An overview of Patriot Bootcamp and Josh’s experience
  • 19:46 – What Josh’s founding team looks like and advice to veterans for finding initial team members
  • 25:48 – What Josh’s life looks like on a day-to-day basis as part of an early stage startup
  • 28:50 – Josh’s advice to other veterans considering starting their own company
  • 35:10 – Other resources Josh would encourage other veterans to check out
  • 39:32 – An overview of Operation Code and how Veterans might engage with them
  • 41:00 – One of the biggest mistakes Josh made in his entrepreneurial journey and what he learned from it
  • 44:00 – Josh’s final words of wisdom