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Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup by Brad Feld, David Cohen

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Chapter 37. Be Tiny Until You Shouldn't Be

Jeffrey Powers

Be Tiny Until You Shouldn't Be

Jeffrey is a co-founder of Occipital, which uses state of the art computer vision in mobile applications for faster information capture and retrieval. On June 23, 2010, Occipital sold its RedLaser product line to eBay. Occipital remains an independent company.

In December 2008, the situation for Occipital was dire. We had a $10,000 deferred legal bill, dried up personal bank accounts, and no revenue. Seven months earlier we had flown out to Boulder to join TechStars with little more than a prototype piece of software that could recognize the logos on paper receipts. In the first week, we realized that everybody thought the technology was cool, but otherwise hated the idea.

Then we found a sexier idea that everyone loved. We were going to build a huge, multiplatform consumer application that used artificial intelligence to solve the world's photo organization problems. There was a lot of buzz in our favor after we demonstrated an early prototype in September, but we failed to close funding for a number of reasons.

This failure gave us one major asset: a big chip on our shoulder. We didn't need anyone else's money. We already had what we needed, which was a core competency in computer vision, a technology area that we believed had incredible intrinsic value. In fact, we were borderline arrogant about it—we hypothesized that we could ...

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