Featured Network Partners: Microsoft BizSpark

Our Network Partners share our passion for driving the success of software startups through mentoring, networking, business advice, financial assistance, and peer connections. Network Partners know the startup environment and understand what it takes to succeed.


Featured Network Partner

Company: Think Big Partners
Interviewee: Herb Sih, Managing Partner

Think Big Partners, based in Kansas City, is an early-stage business incubator, Startup accelerator and mentorship-based collaborative network that takes ideas, opportunities and entrepreneurs and makes them big. Herb Sih, managing partner, explains how his company helps Startups determine whether or not they have a promising idea that can turn into a commercially viable and profitable business.

What is Think Big Partners?

Sih: We help entrepreneurs who walk in with a promising idea walk out with a company on the road to profitability. We do this in a number of different ways—through our collaborative coworking space, our PRISM process, our funding platform (Think Big Ventures), our accelerator (Think Big Accelerator), our open innovation model, our ability to help companies build on a virtual team of talent, our conferences, and of course, through our network of resources.

What is your company’s mission?

Sih: The mission of Think Big Partners is multifaceted, but also singularly focused on creating more successful entrepreneurial outcomes for all stakeholders. Think Big Partners has three main mission statements to aid in the strengthening of the entrepreneurial community not only in the Midwest, but throughout the U.S. Regardless of where you are, we want to bring entrepreneurs success, help solve entrepreneurial challenges and connect all entrepreneurs, visionaries and innovators.

How do Startups work with you?

Sih: We work with Startups on a consultative basis initially. Except for office space, Startups pay a consulting fee during the first three to six months or so as we work with them to determine their commitment to the idea and our ability to connect them with the resources they need. We reduce risk, stretch capital and provide a disciplined process that helps improve their probability of success.

We’re entrepreneurs ourselves with a track record of success, so we think of ourselves in some ways as great project management quarterbacks: We’ll tell you what you need to know when you need to know it. If we don’t think your idea can become profitable, we’ll tell you. If we do think it’s viable, our fee structure will shift into a hybrid setup where we take part equity in your Startup.

Why do some Startups fail?

Sih: The number one reason companies fail is premature scaling. They hire people they don’t need, get office space that’s not necessary, that sort of thing.

You need to remember that success does not simply happen overnight. The startup process is not rigid enough to have absolute boundaries, but it does have a few key elements: having a plan, finding the right people, understanding your next milestone, establishing your long-term goal and having the resources to execute it while the opportunity still exists.

In this hyper-connected world, opportunities do not exist forever. To achieve maximum results, you have to be prepared to seize the initiative when it presents itself.

What interested you in the BizSpark program?

Sih: If you’re a tech entrepreneur, you’ve got enough risk already – capital, ideas, etc. BizSpark is a collection of tools you can use that won’t burn a giant hole in your pocket. You can take what you need, explain it easily to investors using the Microsoft name and you know it will work. You can trust it.

With Office 365, Outlook.com, Windows 8, Windows Azure and all the other great things happening right now at Microsoft, it’s an exciting time to be developing with and using their products.

We have a new product coming in December that we built using Microsoft products, including Node.js and Windows Azure. We know it will work – and both Startups and investors can use the innovative technology and confidence to their advantage, too.

For more information about Think Big Partners, contact Herb at herb.sih@thinkbigpartners.com or via Twitter @thinkbigKC.