PowerPollen Founders on the Influence of Good Mentors
PowerPollen’s founders, Jason Cope and Todd Krone, return to Startup Stories DSM with an update on the company and to discuss mentor influence and investor communication. Watch their first visit to Startup Stories DSM where they discuss their first year of business, including raising funds, hiring team members and more. You can also hear them talk about how they raised $10 million and developed a process to cross-pollinate corn that eliminates manual labor and increases yields here.
Where the Company Stands Today
In recent years, PowerPollen has succeeded in the following:
· Validating business model
· Showing core technology works at commercial levels
· Showing pollen collection works at commercial levels
After figuring out if they could preserve pollen or not, Cope and Krone had to focus on collecting enough pollen to make it substantial enough to use commercially. Today, PowerPollen is working with a number of seed producers which continues to validate the progress of the technology.
Evolution of PowerPollen
Out of the gate, Krone says that he and Cope focused on revitalizing their of an inefficient and expensive 100-year-old seed production process. They realized that the corn grain market could also benefit from newer pollen preservation processes. They realized that it’s not hard to elevate the technology so that it was applicable to corn grain as well. Cope adds that while their eye is still on the ball for scaling seed production, there are many other revenue generating opportunities that PowerPollen can be a part of into the future.
Krone says that something that they’ve also started to look for more efficient ways to lead meetings. They now have someone on the team write a memo about each upcoming meeting topic to increase productivity. That way, everyone comes in prepared. If you didn’t read the memo, you don’t participate. The memo is a rational for how you get to a decision point or a strategy. Cope says that the memo initiative has led to an efficiency increase for leadership team meetings and focused their meetings. Other benefits have included bringing introverted people out in the meeting, as well as shortening meetings by discouraging unneeded introductions.
Mentors have been critical for Krone and Cope as they’ve navigated their startup and recognizing their former mentors’ core knowledge early on has been key. They acknowledge that it’s not always about going out and learning what you don’t know, but finding the right mentors to help teach you, and even sometimes invest in your business. When you don’t know what you don’t know, talking to advisors can change the game for new founders. The flipside is knowing when tostop listening and go “do.”
The PowerPollen founders also discuss cap table of investors, how investors can be free employees, investor communication, lessons learned and more.
Listen to the entire podcast above.
Inspired by this Startup Story? Subscribe to the Startup Stories DSM podcast and check out upcoming events, videos and other free resources dedicated to helping startups and small businesses accelerate success in Greater Des Moines (DSM).