Tara Spalding is Managing Director of BoomStartup Accelerator, the most inclusive accelerator in the world that concentrates on financial and funding education and access for pre-seed companies. Tara recently co-authored “10 Preparation Stages to Start a Successful Business” designed to help founders substantially think through company creation to improve their success rate when starting their business. She is on the board of trustees for VentureCapital.org and is the recipient of the 2020 Utah Business 30 Women to Watch award.
Investment History and Contribution Evolution:
My career-long passion is to support and promote innovation and help entrepreneurs create sustainable growth in their businesses, but the most common hang-up I encounter is the balance of capital infusion and expense. With over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, advisor, and investment strategist and as witnessing the growth in Silicon Valley and Silicon Slopes ecosystems, I’ve developed strong views on how crucial a comprehensive capital management and accessibility strategy truly is.
Over the course of my career, I’ve held several executive positions at software companies in Silicon Valley, and the companies I worked for raised over $60M in VC funding, which was an impressive amount at that time. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with well-respected VC’s like DFJ, Walden International, Canaan Partners, Mayfield, Berkshire Hathaway, Sierra Ventures, Andresseen Horowitz, and others.
After a move to Utah and seeing the growth and expansion of startups and expansion of investors, I became the Managing Director at BoomStartup Accelerator, a subsidiary of Assure. Founded in 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah, BoomStartup is a global, mentorship-driven, angel-stage growth and investment program for startups. It is an online, inclusive accelerator, helping first-time founders on business maturity guidance, investment preparation, capital structuring, and investment strategies. Under my leadership, BoomStartup engaged with over 1,000 startups from across the world and across various industries in 2021 alone. Out of those startups, we helped 25 companies close over $10M in pre-seed funding.
Where Investment Opportunities Find Me
My work at the accelerator allows me to meet and mentor companies on a daily basis. BoomStartup is a radically different accelerator – we offer high-quality online and opt-in education programs to the public, conveying important aspects on how to run a more successful business, gain financial literacy, validate business models, and learn about different capital resources. Additionally, we ask each founder to participate in a quarterly business review and provide custom recommendations and track their progress. This inclusive approach has brought in thousands of founders from over 50 countries from around the world.
Some of our popular programs are our PitchUp global pitch competitions, our OpenUp online education webinars. BoomStartup also has an invite-only funding program called AmplifyUp. Participation is based upon the quarterly business scores. Those who participate in AmplifyUp closely work with us over three months, have 40 hours of live class work, and around another 40 hours in mentor meetings. Those who graduate are deeply-vetted and ready to raise funds.
The Investor Pool and Support for Growing Companies
BoomStartup has a growing community of independent investors who want a trusted vetting process for direct pre-seed investment opportunities, and they appreciate the work and skepticism that these founders endured to graduate AmplifyUp. BoomStartup offers the opportunity to independent investors to volunteer as “investor mentors” to enrich their communications and comprehension by observing our training and reviews.
Why Focus on Women/Minorities/Under-represented Founders?
25% of BoomStartup companies who participate in the AmplifyUp funding program are pre-revenue, the remaining 75% have around $200K in sales but are hardening their model and go-to-market strategy. Of those who elect to participate in AmplifyUp or have BoomStartup administer their fundraising through an Assure SPV, we appeal to the more diverse group that conventional VC funding doesn’t conventionally favor.
- 73% are female founders, or minority, or military – or a combination thereof
- 47% are woman founders
- 10% are outside the USA
Investing in pre-seed deals is highly risky, and statistics show most investments won’t get a return. But the outcome of the founder who attains capital by closing equity-based funding places them on an entirely different path compared to founders who can’t attain capital. Founders who close a round have invaluable knowledge, experience, skillset, and network that will continue on to their next endeavor with hopefully a positive impact – which has a lasting impact in under-resourced communities.
I believe that with the right access to capital, more innovation and more economic development is possible and will lessen socio-economic divides.
How I am Changing the Room
I take every opportunity possible to share my knowledge, experience, or network with anyone, be they founders, funders, or experienced executives who want to improve the future of their communities through mentoring. Although our program is tightly aligned with equity sourcing, I teach founders the mechanics of how to evaluate their business on both an innovation and growth path and identify what capital sources are appropriate for them at this time and for their need and their immediate and ultimate business growth path. Not everything leads to a fundraising deal, but every founder should have a solid foundation of sourcing capital and realistically evaluating what makes sense for their business.
Of course, you’ll often hear me say that the best capital for your business is non-dilutive, and that’s attained by sales!
And Two Other Cool Things About Me:
I am proud to be a board member of VentureCapital.org, working on the women entrepreneur and women angel investor programs. I also co-authored “10 Preparation Stages to Start a Successful Business” with the support from IsoTalent and TechBuzz.