Startup Accelerator Spotlight: Seed Sumo

Seed Sumo Accelerator

Our mission at Seed Sumo is “Discover & Ignite”. Our objectives are to find high growth startup founders and to help them build the company they dream about.

Bryan Bulte - Seed Sumo Accelerator

Bryan Bulte

Name of Accelerator: Seed Sumo

Location: Bryan, TX


Managing Director: Bryan Bulte

This article is part of our Startup Accelerator Spotlight Series featuring accelerators from around the world. We hope these spotlights will assist the entrepreneur should they consider attending an accelerator program.

In two sentences or less, tell us about your accelerator and its objectives?

Our mission at Seed Sumo is “Discover & Ignite”. Our objectives are to find high growth startup founders and to help them build the company they dream about.

Why is your accelerator program unique? Please describe the benefits of participation in your program.

One of the ways Seed Sumo is unique is that we are all startup people. Our founders have all built companies and know what the journey is like from the basement to the boardroom and have created companies that will generate about $300 million in sales this year. We believe that today’s startup founders don’t need technical advice – they have that covered. What they need is operational advice about how to grow and build the business. Our goal is to help cover their blind spots and increase their odds of success.

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What is the most difficult part of working with startups?

A few of the frustrations that we see when working with startups:Seed Sumo Accelerator

  1. The stubbornness that you typically see when someone isn’t open to feedback.
  2. Overbuilding the product or service (despite claims to be Lean or following the Lean model).
  3. Overvaluing your company.
  4. Starting with a solution in mind, not first truly connecting with the customer to understand their pain point, from their point of view.

How should entrepreneurs approach the valuation question?

What do you enjoy most; what do you find most appealing about working with the entrepreneurial startups?

The most enjoyable part of working with startups is when you are able to help them see that first sign of market acceptance. That’s the point when we know that we have a good founder, the right problem is being solved the right way and the marketplace agrees that this company has the right to exist.

Tell us about your success stories; Which are the most interesting companies to have participated in your program?

Four recent success stories:

  1. From our first class is Gazoo which has created high performance virtual machines at a scale that currently doesn’t exist in the market. They have attracted a high quality CEO to help them through this next stage of growth and are attracting some very interesting VCs running towards their Series A.
  2. POLCO is making politics cool. Their initial application will help local politicians get feedback from their citizens in real time in a way that previously hasn’t been possible. Nick is a great CEO that’s easy to love and he has built a great team. They will be used by about 50 cities by the end of 2016.
  3. Knocki created a device that turns any surface into a remote control. You can knock (or tap) to turn on smart lights, set the alarm, send a text, or control the temperature of your home. They’ve had overwhelming support and positive feedback. Recently the Tyra Banks show reached out to feature them, which was exciting, and they are also in talks to partner with an international furniture company. We love the infinite potential of the loT space and believe that Jake and Ohad will do well.
  4. CarForce is our connected car company and has one of the best beginnings that you could hope for. The CEO formerly ran eBay motors ($7.3B enterprise) and has industry experience in the automotive space that carries a ton of credibility. There are 162 million cars on the road today that are not connected to the internet.   By 2020, 80% of cars will be connected. CarForce has created a business model that increases customer retention and satisfaction for dealerships and also gets around 20 cars connected (per dealership per day) and growing. There are about 20,000 dealerships in the US alone and CarForce is going after about 5,000 of them to create the largest database of connected cars on the planet.

What are the three most important factors startup entrepreneurs should consider when contemplating attending an accelerator?

  • You have to know your customer and their pain point. We see so many ideas that on the surface seem to be good, but when you get down to the details, we ask ourselves if anyone really cares if this problem is solved. Knowing the market you are in and that the problem exists for people who want it solved; that’s a huge boost in the right direction.
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  • Be able to help educate other people on your industry. You will encounter investors and other people who don’t know your solution, your market, or your industry at the same level you do. Help them to see why you are so excited about the opportunity and the impact it can make.
    In search of an accelerator that aligns with your startup’s needs?  Try TurboFunder’s Find My Accelerator search tool!
  • Research the people behind the accelerator and know if they are a good fit for you professionally as well as personally. We feel like each of our teams are a member of the family. We believe we are investing in them for life and really love the new relationships that develop from our founders. Ideally that will be the same for you. There are lots of accelerators, and lots of investors. Take the time to find one that will challenge you, stretch you, and help you build your business to the best version possible. However, you need to be able to connect personally also. Life’s too short to work with mean people.

What else would you like to share?

One thing we really like about Seed Sumo is our location. We are centrally located in the Texas Triangle which connects Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. There are 22 million people here, and that’s a great space to be. Bryan, Texas has easy access to the big cities but without any of the distractions. You can come here and really focus on building your business. Also, we are very excited about some recent research coming out of the Kauffman Foundation that female entrepreneurs are 30% more likely to succeed that their male counterparts. That’s great news.

Are you familiar with other accelerators you believe should be highlighted?  If so, we would like to hear from you.  Tell us about them in the comments below!


Pam Goforth

Pam Goforth is Research Manager for FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.