My Thoughts On TechCo Being Acquired
Can one email change your life? Yes, it can.
Earlier this year I received a simple email that read:
“My business is interested in acquiring a leading US Tech website. Tech.co is one of the best tech sites out there and I would love to talk to you further about your business.”
Actually, I didn’t even see it at first as I had been traveling a lot and my email inbox had been piling up – so I had totally missed it. Thankfully, the sender sent the email to my cofounder and COO, Jen Consalvo, and she saw it right away.
“Frank, did you see this email?” she asked me from across our office.
We quickly responded, and after connecting, realized we would all be in Austin during SXSW. So we set up a meeting, had a great dinner together, and a relationship began which leads me to today’s announcement:
I’m happy to announce that Tech.Co has been acquired by MVF, an international publishing and tech company.
As I wrote on Tech.Co, we’re an overnight success 11+ years in the making. In those years, the company has grown and evolved just as I have. A cocktail event I launched in Chicago with Eric Olson grew quickly into a movement as “Tech Cocktail” and then eventually into a full-fledged media company with millions of readers globally as Tech.Co. During that same time I got married, wrote a book, had a child and gained many “summer blonde” hairs. Ok, those summer blondes are grays, I admit it, but I won’t budge on the fact that through it all, I’m still only 27 years old ;).
During my time at the helm of Tech.Co (originally called Tech Cocktail), we created an environment led by an inherit drive to do what’s right for the tech and startup community. So many people I’ve met have shared their Tech Cocktail stories of how they met their cofounder, investors, or in some cases their husband or wife. It’s been a joy to hear these amazing stories. I’m going to highlight a few here, as they have acted as fuel to keep me motived throughout these 11+ years. Some of these stories are also shared in my book Startup Mixology, but they bear repeating today:
- We changed peoples lives – A few years ago I met a startup founder who was a Startup of the Year semifinalist competing at our Celebrate conference (now Innovate Celebrate). He was from India, and wanted to thank me because a couple years prior, he had downloaded one of our reports on how to choose an accelerator that is right for you. As it turned out, after reading the report, he applied for one of the programs we listed in Rhode Island and was accepted. He promptly moved his family from India to New England and pursued his startup dream. Now, here he was standing in front of me in Las Vegas competing in our global startup competition, selected out of ~1K companies. This kind of impact and importance of your work cannot be measured in page views or dollars.
- We created place to get started – There are thousands of startups that got their start at one of our events over the years, from Uber and Groupon, to Grubhub, Edmodo, The Muse, Belly, Contactually, ID.me, AddThis, Livingsocial, and so many more. We’ve had some amazing entrepreneurs come through with two cofounders and a laptop or app and share their vision and story with the community. Billions of dollars of investment have gone into these startups and each had Tech.Co as part of their early history. Some of these founders still work with us today as investors, mentors, and judges for our various programs. We created opportunities at each stage, creating an exciting circle – someone could get started with us, and then give back in multiple ways to the next generation of startups.
- We created a safe place for relationship building – What we did mattered to people so much that successful entrepreneur John Ramey, founder of iSocket, once dubbed our events the “Church of Geek.” While speaking at a conference he shared that he would drive 4 or 5 hours to attend one of our Chicago events, and he was not the only one. I remember people driving from Ohio to DC and a number of other people flying into our events to get a taste of a Tech Cocktail gathering, back when there were very few events for the startup community outside of the valley. What we didn’t totally realize is that we were creating a platform which was a safe and encouraging environment for connections and idea sharing. When people came, they were excited, and that enthusiasm was contagious.
It takes an army to build a business from the ground up and I could not have done this without the support of the people around me, including my first cofounder, Eric Olson, who helped me turn our little idea of uniting the Chicago community into a reality. And of course, my second cofounder Jen Consalvo who jumped in to turn our side-hustle into Tech.Co, a full-fledged media business. Aside from bringing her bigger vision for the company, I am grateful for her unique ability to translate “Frank speak and vision” into plans that we could execute with our team. Jen has the ability to take on all things thrown at her, even if she doesn’t know how or it isn’t her favorite thing to do. Thank you Jen and I’m sorry for not being more proficient with Quickbooks. I am now also privileged to call Jen my wife.
It’s not easy to take a side-hustle passion project and bootstrap it into a sustainable, full time company. I am so appreciative of all of our early Tech Cocktail “team” (who were all volunteers) from my mom, brother, sister and her handful of friends who helped with the first events, and to the D.C. crew that helped continue the movement when I moved there from Chicago. This same crew rallied behind our DCWEEK festival to the tune of 10k attendees strong. Thank you.
And our many employees over the years, you all left a huge impact on this business. Thank you for jumping on board with us for whatever time period you were here. We appreciate you taking a chance on a growing business and we would not have gotten to this finish line without you. But I should say, Tech.Co is NOT finished. We’re leaving it in the hands of one of the fastest growing companies in the UK with a growing US presence from their US HQ in Austin. This amazing team will continue to grow our global audience as a leader in the media space. Separately, our beloved programs and events will not be going away, as we will continue to work with our partners to grow the Startup of the Year program, which hosts big startup night events at CES and SXSW and has a growing investment community component, and our global conference, Innovate Celebrate.
Jen and I will work with MVF to transition Tech.Co over the coming months. We’d like to take a vacation because we really haven’t had any time off for quite some time. Holidays with the family and workcations just don’t count. And as a creator, we’ll definitely be launching some new ventures soon. In the meantime, I’ll be advising companies, from startups to Fortune 50’s, speaking (I’m represented by Chartwell here), and doing some investing of my own – and of course cheering on my beloved Chicago Cubs this coming season. With so much gratitude, I want to thank you all for being part of this journey.