An Insider Look at RocketHub, the AlleyNYC Company That Sold for $15 Million
At AlleyNYC the single-biggest reason why I love my business so much is because with the volume of startups we get to help grow. We get to see huge wins and the power of AlleyNYC shines through. We get closer and closer to proving to the world that AlleyNYC is a place that breeds success, in a diverse, supportive environment.
Our latest win is crowdfunding platform RocketHub, which was incubated within the walls of AlleyNYC. RocketHub was recently acquired by EFactor for $15 million. In order to show the impact of working out of AlleyNYC I decided to interview the CEO and co-founder of RocketHub, Brian Meece:
Q: When did you start Rockethub?
A: The RocketHub platform launched in January 2010 based on a funding model that was popular with do-it-yourself artists that use their communities to raise funds for projects. Our goal was to start a company that would add infrastructure and credibility to this new crowdfunding model and bring it into new markets such as entrepreneurship and academics.
At its core, crowdfunding is about building relationships, and creating an attachment to the story of how a product is made. Each funder remarkably becomes an integral part of the narrative that an emerging entrepreneur is telling. I’ve even had our community tell me they watch new companies now, the way they root for their favorite sports teams. These funders feel that they are part of a special tribe and often have high emotional stakes at play.
Before launching RocketHub with my fellow co-founders, I was playing ukulele in bands, making indie movies, and surfing a lot. So this adventure in technology has been a new wave for me. I'm grateful for the ride.
Q: When did you join the AlleyNYC community?
A: We were fortunate to meet you and Nsi (Obotetukudo, Alley's co-founder and COO) when you first launched the space, and began working from AlleyNYC in the fall of 2012. That year we raised some angel funding (under $400K), and also inked a deal with A&E Networks. Having a workplace we were proud to call home gave us an added boost of confidence to get out there and land impactful deals.
I've watched the space grow over the years, and have learned much from Nsi and you. They are relentless and totally committed to being a dynamic resource for startups. Plus they lead this community of scrappy entrepreneurs with a lot of heart. You can feel that energy in the here. Those good vibes start at the top.
Q: How has AlleyNYC helped you grow RocketHub?
A: We've met dozens of fun and talented founders through co-working. AlleyNYC is home to a wide swath of entrepreneurs, ranging from tech, fashion, media, events, hardware, and even comedy. Part of our partnership with A&E Networks includes a documentary called "The Startup Factor" airing later this year. After visiting us at AlleyNYC, the A&E producers made it clear that they wanted to shoot our interviews here, and even got soundbites from other startup founders in the space.
The New York Times has photographed us at AlleyNYC, and we've closed big business deals in these conference rooms.
Community building is part of the RocketHub DNA. Simply hanging out in the AlleyNYC cafe can lead to partnerships, press events, user growth, and friendships. So we've been very happy here.
Q: What was the most impactful moment you ever had at AlleyNYC?
A: In the fall of 2012, RocketHub hosted a roundtable discussion for The White House, right here at AlleyNYC.
The meeting included members of the New York City startup community, A&E executive Dr. Libby O'Connell, EFactor COO Marion Freijsen, and President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, represented by Don Graves and Danielle Evers.
By way of background, the Jobs Council was created to provide non-partisan advice to the president on continuing to strengthen the nation’s economy, ensuring the competitiveness of the United States, and on ways to create jobs, opportunity, and prosperity for the American people.
Alongside founders from 15 startups and small businesses, we discussed topics including crowdfunding, the JOBS Act, taxes, affordable health insurance, and other challenges that American startups face.
Q: What would you say to companies that are looking to join the AlleyNYC community?
A: The AlleyNYC ethos is all about hustle and fun, and they have tough love for their entrepreneurs.
The space is big, beautiful, and conveniently located, but it's the people here that give it the wow-factor with creative energy and drive.
Q: What is the future for RocketHub, and how do you see AlleyNYC being a part of it?
A: We're exploring broadening our current perks-based platform with equity-based crowdfunding and business loan products, basically shifting into an alternative finance solution to support new companies. We want to serve AlleyNYC members with the same passion that Nsi and you have, only as a funding source.
RocketHub is a clear sign that what we are doing at AlleyNYC is working. We expect many more wins like this to come out of the community, and we look forward to sharing all the news with you. I could not be more proud of Brian and his team. Very few startups win and its not magic. It is hard work and determination and Rockethub is living proof of that. I want to congratulate the whole RocketHub team, the AlleyNYC community for a huge win and EFactor for acquiring an amazing company! HUSTLE ON.
Jason Saltzman is a seasoned entrepreneur with a background in sales and marketing. Through his role as CEO of Alley and as a TechStars mentor, he advises hundreds of startups, offering real-life practical application and creative marketing advice.