Billy Grandy, Director at Softeq Venture Studio, takes us on a journey from his hardworking childhood in Florida to the important personal connections that led him to Softeq. With a guiding philosophy of “giving first,” Billy has always been a generous supporter of startups and small businesses, moving to Houston to take advantage of the innovation and reinvention happening here. Billy covers past startup experiences, present work with startup founders, and his goal for forging a better future for Houston.
[00:00] Working with startups from a very young age
[07:14] Ending up in Houston & at Softeq through giving first
[17:17] Reinventing Houston in order to reinvent startups within the Houston area
[28:54] Building better tech startups with CTO advisors & solution engineers
[38:08] Seizing opportunities for networking, even when uncomfortable
[46:08] Forging the future of diversity & equity initiatives in tech
What’s different about Softeq from some of the other accelerators you've been to?
De-risking the tech stack and giving founders a real world experience are the bread and butter of Softeq Venture Studio. Instead of falling victim to the Ponzi scheme vibe some startup accelerators have, Softeq does its due diligence and cares about educating founders about how the process of investments really work. Even when we take in the startups that others won’t take a chance on, we do our part to build a better company with them.
“I think Softeq tries to give them a real-world experience. We try to de-risk the tech. Then, at the end of it, we try to help all of them succeed. Some of them, of course, we take a liking to and we'll invest, and others, we're still going to help them try to get investing.”
How does the Softeq Venture Studio solve the problem of founders lacking important technical skills?
Many of our startup founders are incredibly talented, intelligent, and skilled. However, they might only be skilled in specialized fields or certain processes, with little to no experience in the technology they need to bring their startup ideas to life. Enter our CTO Advisor Dave, alongside Billy’s team of skill employees at the venture studio, and you have a recipe for success that de-risks the tech and supports founders on this exciting yet complicated journey.
“I think one thing founders don't understand is that investors are looking for small incremental wins over time. They don't want to see what you did over 12 months, they want to see in 3 months. So, we ask initially in the studio: What impact can we make in a short period of time?”
Why should startup founders be willing to get uncomfortable?
Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is a necessity for startup founders, Billy explains, because it offers room for growth and the opportunity of new relationships. At Softeq, we host a lot of startup events, and invite founders and startup staff to network alongside investors and other invitees. When startup founders take advantage of these opportunities, Billy believes they expand their opportunities for education, support, funding, and so much more.
“We're boots on the ground in Houston, we're getting people to talk to us about the core business that we never had relationships with. That's not because it's transactional. It's because we're inviting them to startup events. You gotta get out there and be uncomfortable.”
How is the work we're doing with startups at Softeq Venture Studio forging the future?
Diversity forges the future, but not in the way many organizations think, according to Billy. Instead of focusing on diversity as a statistic, Softeq prides itself on working with unique startups and innovative ideas. When we open ourselves up to all the startups Houston can bring us, a diverse future for startups is inevitable. Billy is pleased to see all walks of life enter the front doors of Softeq at the start of each quarter, ready to grow and learn.
“I think that's how Softeq is forging the future is we're betting on the ones that most people wouldn't bet on. I think the result is a diverse group of people that really are doing some things that could change the world in one way or another.”