Three months out from Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest tour, where local celebrity startup Bidr won the hundred grand, we’re still seeing energy from the group. We sat down with the group in our Washington Bureau office after a recent meeting with President Obama at the White House.
“It was a great meeting,” said Mindy Taylor, Chief Evangelist, “Until Joe Biden cornered me in the oval office and started asking about how to send a text message.”
“How do you get cornered in a round office?” asked Bryant.
Sam Staley, Founder, breaks in. “The important thing is that winning a $107,500 hasn’t really changed our core culture.”
“Weren’t there a few more investments from the crowd?” I ask.
“Yeah, but that’s just walking around money.” Bryant dismisses the question.
Staley continues, “We’re still the same scrappy startup we’ve always been. It’s just that now we can text the president.”
“Like, even this conference room is too nice for us,” Staley looks around, admiring our vintage IKEA furniture, then continues, “We’re moving out of Patrick’s office and into a run down old single house in upper king. Way past where Morris Sokol used to be.”
“We stay lean and hungry. The first thing I did was ask Steve Case if he had any leftover AOL floppy-disks. I figured I had better make a backup of the source code.” He holds up a diskette with “Bidr” written over the AOL logo and electrical-tape over the write-protect hole. “We keep one in the office, another buried in a coffee-can in an undisclosed location that may or may not be accessible only by boat, and one in my new Land Rover.”
“You bought a new land rover?” I press him on the issue.
“Yes, It’s a custom 2016 Range Rover.” He motions to the window. “My old one didn’t have doors.”
“Which is why he had to upgrade,” interrupts Bryant, “His old one was not a safe place to keep source code.”
“We also had to buy a boat,” adds Staley.
Bryant continues. “It’s one thing to win a few grand from DIG, or to win a hundred grand from a billionaire in a custom tour bus, but — and this is what I said to Mindy and Sam — what if we could take $100,000, and make an ever better pitch?We could be on Celebrity Apprentice, unless [Donald] Trump gets to the White House.” He shifts in his seat, adding, “It’s all about collision,” and looks out the window seemingly deep in thought.
Sensing a pause in the conversation Taylor leans forward. “Obviously we’ll use some of the funding to market the product, and find ways to expand our footprint with existing customers. We actually have customers, you know, and we just launched Text Gives.” She lays out some of her ideas — expanding social media presence, a customer referral program, improving the on-boarding experience. “It’s a rewarding experience to be able to help non-profits and charities.”
The conversation moves on. We talk about craft beer, foosball, razor scooters, whether BenefitFocus, PeopleMatter, Teamphoria, and Echovate should merge and what their new name would be, and where to get good grits in DC.
Then Bryant whips something out of his pocket. “Check this out.” He shows me an iPhone 6 plus with a Bidr logo etched in the back. “Bidr is pre-loaded. We’ll be sending these free in the mail to households all across the country. You’ll be able to pick them up along with a 32oz cola at Lil’Cricket.”
I glance around the room. Staley and Bryant can barely contain their excitement.
“This is disruption. No one has tried this before,” he pauses for a moment. “How big is this going to be? Well, let’s just say I’d like to buy a vowel.”