By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
Irina: Would you please go over the core benefits of your program one more time?
John: We give access to our deep channel of partners and customers. We have more than 250,000 customers that range from enterprises all the way down to small, medium sized businesses; access to both individuals and technology here in Citrix, but also in the much broader technology world we live in.
We’re working with folks who come from the innovation communities from large corporations. We partner very closely with [companies] like Microsoft and HP all the way down to other accelerators and entrepreneurs who have worked on smaller businesses.
We also have a real focus on helping them get to the next stage of investments. We have close relationships with venture capitalists. If [the entrepreneurs] are successful in building out their products or services with us, we’re focused on getting them to the next stage of their development and raising some funds at the next higher level with venture capitalists.
The other focus – I’ve alluded to it already – the whole user experience has become so important. So, how do you create solutions that are frictionless? How do you create not only good looking applications, but also easy to use applications? Citrix, with our own products, we’ve taken a focus on that.
We’re using that same capability to help the entrepreneurs with our usability labs and with designers, both internally and externally, to help them create solutions that are easy and fun to use.
Irina: Can you think of something that makes your incubator different from the rest?
John: I alluded to a number of things, but I’ll just say three things. Again, we’re truly global. From day one, we’ve thought in global terms here. Typically, investors tend to stick local; however, some of them are global.
I think as a corporate investor, we’re really thinking of how to build this program with global reach. We’re going to give them the resources that they would have, whether they were based in Silicon Valley or anywhere in the world. We’re using our own collaboration tools and virtual computing tools to help these entrepreneurs access customers, partners, follow-on investors just as if they were here.
More specifically, as I just mentioned, at the end of the day, they have to build great products and services regardless of what we do for them to be successful. We’re helping them leverage all the resources we have within Citrix and beyond to help them build great solutions.
Irina: I understand you source a lot of your applicants by publicizing your incubator online and through your global outreach. Are there any other ways that you get applicants?
John: To be honest with you, the first months here it was all word of mouth. We did put out a press release back in December 2010 when we launched the program and got it on its feet. The word of mouth in both the Citrix and more general technology circles got out pretty quick.
We got a lot of interested parties just through that. [We’ve] been using the more broadly accessible Internet just in the last few months to get the word out.
Again, we’ve got close ties to the investment community, which is well concentrated here in Silicon Valley. Of course, it spans the globe these days. So, that would be another really good source. Oftentimes, venture capitalists aren’t ready to invest in some of the opportunities they see until those companies are more mature. We’re willing to take more risk on these early ventures. That’s another great source for entrepreneurs to meet us.
Irina: And they all submit their applications through Angelsoft, right?
John: Yes, just for the application, we do it through Angelsoft.net. That’s a nice piece of software specifically designed for seed style investors like us. It’s worked out quite well.
Irina: What do you like about Angelsoft?
John: It was designed by angels, essentially. They knew exactly what you need. There’s functionality in there that we haven’t even used, yet, just from an internal processing point of view.
One of the nice things I’m using – I actually encourage [use of it] on our website when people apply – is the video capability – it’s very simple – with your webcam that’s built into your notebook or if you have an external USB camera. That kind of thing really helps us, when we’re reading a lot of material, to understand what they’re doing.