We caught up with HW class of 2013 alum and new mentor, Michael Walsh CEO of Cariloop:
What was your experience being part of the HW inaugural class in 2013? The experience was incredible. I felt there was so much that we as a company, and me as a founder and CEO, gained so much by participating in the program. Being a part of the first class gives me a great deal of pride; HW was finding out who they were just like we were. The first class helped to establish the practices and principles that have helped make the program so successful.
Where is your company now? After graduation, Cariloop raised a $500,000 seed round led by various angels in DFW as well Green Park and Golf Ventures. That seed round gave us the fuel we needed to take Cariloop to the market.
After about a year, we made some adjustments to the user experience of our product and to our distribution strategy which allowed us to sell Cariloop as B2B. Over the last quarter, we signed up our first 5,000 individual paid members. We are currently in the process of raising our Series A round which will close in early 2016.
You signed on as a mentor for this year's class. Why did you want to do that? One of my personal core values is to be of service to others. If I can give back in some small way to an organization that has done a lot for me and for my company, if I can be a part of a company’s journey and help them succeed, then that is great for me and great for all of us. I think there are a lot of things that I have observed since I left HW that would be valuable to know as a company going through the program. Looking back on the last 24 months, if I had known some of the things I know now, it would have saved me a lot of time and stress early on. I wanted to provide that visibility to others.
Any big takeaways from your mentoring experience? It’s very different being on the mentor side as opposed to the company side, although being on the company side certainly helped. When I listen to the companies talk about the challenges they’re facing I can tell them, 'This is how I handled this' or 'This is what you can do' or even 'I have this tool that I can share'. Being on the mentor side reminded me how passionate entrepreneurs are about what they are doing and how willing they are to put themselves in a vulnerable position. Doing all that it takes to be an entrepreneur is not easy, and I want to help make sure that they succeed.