Posted on Wednesday, Nov 17th 2021
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Artificial Intelligence startups are very hot these days. Read how CEO Dave Copps built Brainspace from Dallas. After we spoke in 2016, Brainspace was acquired by Cyxtera Technologies in 2017.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background? Dave Copps: I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. My dad was an eye surgeon. My parents had moved down from Wisconsin. They were snow birds, as they called themselves. My mom was a community leader. My dad was very smart. He graduated from college at 17. His dad had the same background. He went to the Navy while his friends were graduating.
My mom funded many fundraising efforts in Dallas. From an early stage, I learned a lot about the importance of education, culture, and giving back. I left for college to go to Westminster College in Missouri and came back to Dallas and finished at the University of North Texas. I’ve been in Dallas ever since. I always thought I’d be off in Europe somewhere. Dallas is a great city. It’s a great place to start a business.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do after college? Dave Copps: I went right into software. I initially started selling software for a company called Software Spectrum. I was an inside sales representative and then graduated into a regional rep. I took over the department that sold advanced products like Power Builder and things like that. I was always into software. I graduated college with a degree in Anthropology. I was fascinated with culture, but more importantly corporate culture. In the background, I was always a geek. I was building my own boxes of computers. I’ve always had a fascination with technology. It’s probably no accident now that I’m in the startup world where culture is such a big part of the business. Sramana Mitra: How long did you continue in that mode of doing software inside sales? Dave Copps: I was there for three years. Part of my nature is that I get bored. I’m always looking for new things. I got a call from a startup. At that time, it was called Carthage International. It was a real-time new product on the Internet. That was back in 1996 or so. We were delivering real-time news to corporate Internet, which no one was doing back then. We actually even did web services before. We built this idea of news widgets that people could embed inside their Internet.
I started with that and I think that really gave me my entrepreneurial bent. That company was purchased. I learned my biggest entrepreneurial lesson that the way you make money with a startup is with equity because I didn’t have any in that one. Then I started my own company. I was doing some consulting with a friend of mine at KPMG. I built a taxonomy for KMan and KWorld. I was the one who was building all the search strategies. I think the insanity of that product was what made me become an entrepreneur. I was building all of these topics – 3,000 different search strategies that KPMG was using – and by the time I finished, I was not working anymore. That’s where I got the idea of Dynamic Learning.
Our conversation continues
here. This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to an Exit . Why is Bootstrapping Important? . How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently? . Do NOT Go to VCs as Beggars - Go as Kings . Excess is NOT Required for Success . Bootstrap First and Raise Money Later . Some Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies . The Buy Side of Bootstrapping to an Exit . Blitzscaling vs. Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to Unicorns More »» . Cinedigm Acquires Bootstrapped 1Mby1M Company Future Today for $60 Million . Mailchimp Bootstraps to $600M Revenue . Bootstrapping from Arizona to $10 Million . Bootstrapped Basecamp Executes a No Nonsense Strategy . How Under30Experiences Bootstrapped to $5 Million . Bootstrapping with a Paycheck . How Algo.ai CEO Amjad Hussain Bootstrapped using Services from Michigan . Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Businesses . How iHeartRaves CEO Bootstrapped a Niche e-Commerce Company to $20 Million . Bootstrapping with Services . How The Intern Group CEO David Lloyd Bootstrapped to $13 Million . How Passageways CEO Paroon Chadha Bootstrapped from Indiana . How SmartBuyGlasses CEO David Menning Bootstrapped to $50 Million . Death by Overfunding . How RainmakerForce CEO Mack Sundaram Bootstrapped Decisively to $5 Million+ . How FormAssembly CEO Bootstrapped a Virtual Company with a Paycheck . TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo Bootstrapped to Exit with Sage . The VC-Entrepreneur Compensation Disbalance . BioConnect CEO Bootstraps with Sophisticated Strategic Maneuvering . Tremend CEO Marius Hanganu Bootstraps from Romania . Gesture CEO Jim Alvarez Bootstraps to $10 Million . SproutLoud CEO Bootstraps to $30 Million from Florida . Tuft & Needle CEO Bootstraps to Over $100 Million . Co-founders Bootstrap Linguamatics to Over $10M from the UK . Ownership Matters . Vainu Co-founder Mikko Honkanen Bootstraps from Finland . Entrepreneur Couple Bootstraps to $10M from Colorado . 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Discussing the Evolution of the Indian Startup Industry with Sasha Mirchandani, Kae Capital . Lean Company Bootstraps to $7M . Saatva Co-founder Bootstrapped a $25M E-Commerce Company . Looking at Terms with Heidi Roizen of Threshold Ventures . ADDA Co-founder CEO Bootstrapped with a Paycheck in India . Duda Co-founders Bootstrap with Paychecks . The Importance of Building Value with Shomit Ghose, Onset Ventures . Get Real Health Founder Bootstrapped Using Services . Bootstrapping Unique Vintage Using a Paycheck . Discussing E-commerce Startup Trends with Daniel Gulati, Forecast Fund . Bootstrapping a Digital Startup with a Paycheck . Discussing Seed Stages with Amir Banifatemi of K5 Ventures . Bootstrapping Avelead Using Services from Atlanta . Founder Bootstrapped a Big Data Company Using Services . Discussing Future Unicorns with Warren Weiss, Foundation Capital . Founder Bootstrapped Axosoft with a Paycheck . Raised a Series A with $10 Million in the Bank . 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Co-founder Bootstrapped a SaaS Company in India . Bootstrapped MindTouch to $12M+ and Exit . Mobiliya Technologies was Bootstrapped Using Services . What Traditional VCs are Looking for with Scott Sandell, NEA . Bootstrapped Srishti Software Applications with Services from India . How Robust SaaS Company RateGain was Bootstrapped from India . Bootstrapped eGroup to $20M in Charleston, South Carolina . Gravitant CEO Bootstrapped Using Services to $15M in Venture Capital . CEO Bootstrapped Sitecore Using Services from Denmark . Co-founder Dan Hermann on Bootstrapping Paint Nite . Founder Krishna Kumar Bootstrapped App Orchid Using Services . Bootstrapping a Web Hosting Company to $60M . Bootstrapping CloudSense with Services on Force.com from London . Bootstrapped Book E-Commerce Business BookPal . Student Entrepreneurs Bootstrapped a Zero-Logistics E-Commerce Company to $19M . Bootstrapped to a High Growth Inc. 500 Company . Bootstrapping Using Services and Scaling Using Content Marketing . Bootstrapped from London, Went Public and Scaled to $450M . Bootstrapped Credit Card Processing Business Payscape . Bootstrapped TEOCO to $175M with Services . InRule Was Bootstrapped Using Services . HighQ was Bootstrapped Using Services from London . Ingenious Med was Bootstrapped with a Paycheck from Atlanta . Bootstrapped VistaVu to $10M from Canada . OnSIP CEO Mike Oeth Bootstrapped in Pennsylvania . Pramata Founder Bootstrapped in Minnesota . Conversocial was Bootstrapped Using Services from London . Zephyr Health Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later . iText was Bootstrapped from Belgium . CTO Bootstrapped InteliSecure Using Services from Colorado . Bootstrapping Evariant Using Services . Dave Elkington Bootstrapped Billion Dollar Unicorn InsideSales.com Using Services from Utah . PMG Founders Bootstrapped Using Services from Atlanta . Ensighten Founder Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later . 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Bay Dynamics Co-founders Bootstrapped Using Services . Building an AI Software Company from Dallas . RJMetrics Co-founders Bootstrapped First, Raised $22M Later . Bootstrapping Niche E-Commerce Business BuyAutoParts to Exit . TemplateMonster was Bootstrapped to $15 Million . Bootstrapping Edge Hosting to $18 Million . Bootstrapping, Fund Raising and Exiting with Sefaira . Bootstrapping IdeaScale to $5M from Scratch . Bootstrapping to $10M from Finland . Happy Grasshopper CEO Dan Stewart Bootstrapped to Inflection . Bootstrapping Gravity Pro Using Services . Founder Builds Multiple Bootstrapped Education Software Companies . Bootstrapping to $10M from Australia, Raising $25M from the US . Bootstrapped Y Soft to $30M from the Czech Republic . Bootstrapped from Belarus, Raised Money from Silicon Valley . Bootstrapped SproutLoud to $30M from Florida . Bootstrapped 2600Hz Using Services