Accelerate Baltimore: What progress has Chord made since graduating from the program?
Jared Marmen: Accelerate Baltimore has given Chord the resources and the time to build. We are creating a consumer hardware product, and there are a lot of smart, successful people that would not touch consumer or hardware. I understand why. I know what it took over the last few months to get us to the point where we can reliably build a prototype, test and ship it, so when it arrives it just works.
Sitting at my desk one day couple of weeks ago, I was able to monitor a dog trainer working in Nova Scotia, and another testing in the UK. It was a little surreal. You get a little bit more of the real taste of what you are creating, and it just feeds the fire in you. The harder it is, the more it pays off. We just wouldn’t have had the time to put this much effort into the product if it weren’t for Accelerate Baltimore.
AB: What are some of the resources that helped you as a member of the 2017 cohort?
JM: The cohort helped me so much. Before Accelerate Baltimore, I felt a kind of entrepreneurial loneliness — I wanted to have neighbors to talk to that would understand what I was going through. That’s exactly what I got from the AB cohort. Everyone was so different, and all of our professional backgrounds were so different, but as a group, we interacted so well. I got exactly what I was searching for: the ability to be a part of a group of people going through the struggle in a different way.
The additional funding was, of course, something that helped Chord drastically. It’s funny because you know how much $100k will help you, so you think about it a lot before the program starts, but when you get into it, everyone forgets about Investor Pitch Night and the money. Or at least I did! I didn’t think about it seriously again until Leslie [Woodward] mentioned that she thought I could win. I learned so much from the cohort — In a way I tried to emulate the strengths I saw in the other founders in the cohort. It was probably subconscious at first, but near the end I saw it. So I just tried to incorporate different pieces that I saw other members doing successfully in my pitch, and that helped so much.
AB: What have you learned after Accelerate Baltimore?
JM: ETC’s incubate program really keeps the momentum you build during Accelerate Baltimore going. AB is, of course, a lot more intense due to the 13-week nature of the program, and afterwards, you think, “What else could I learn?” But you end up learning so much from mentors and networking.
After AB, I realized just how much every little part of the program added up and helped me. Henry Mortimer picked my pitch, and my delivery, apart and left the pieces scattered on the floor the first time I pitched him. The difference from that day to pitch night, working over and over and over again with Henry, and with Scott Winn, an AB graduate from the year before, and many others. Jason Taggler similarly ripped my investment summary to shreds the first time, even though I thought that was good too. But after following his advice, I improved it vastly. Now that document is my three page bedrock of answers. There were so many little things along the way that just added up.
AB: What do you think people should know about Accelerate Baltimore?
JM: Everyone on the ETC team is made available to you. I honestly had really high expectations going into the program, and they were exceeded completely, even before I got the extra investment. That investment drives me to succeed even more.
AB has also given me a network like no other. I finally learned to just always ask Deb when in doubt. Not only does she quickly come back with the person I should talk to, but she always just so happens to be seeing so and so that day. It’s uncanny. Trust is another huge part of it. I trust Deb’s connections because she does. You can’t put a price on that.
Oh also, the AB lunches are top-notch and bountiful — don’t miss a session!