Thomas had raised over $2 million from investors for his previous company, building it to 10 employees with operations in 5 states. However, as he set out on his next venture, he knew firsthand the limitations he would face as a non-technical founder trying to launch a business.
Thomas’s idea bloomed out of the operations at his previous startup- a company that generated leads through product exhibitions at trade shows across the United States. In one day at a large trade show, it was possible for 1,000+ potential leads to walk by an exhibitor’s booth, so it was key to make efficient use of the time and speak to as many attendees as possible. To support the sales team that traveled to each show, local marketing and sales staffers were hired temporarily. Thomas noticed the difficulty and inefficiency in recruiting temporary staff for conferences through tools like Craigslist, and intuitively began to think of a better way to quickly connect the thousands of salespeople beyond his own company with temporary staffers for any given conference, event, or promotion across the country.
Thomas knew that having the technical skills to build and launch the first version of his application would be crucial. It would not only help him test his assumptions about the market much faster, but he would also have the opportunity to get an initial round of users to actually use his application and give him the critical and invaluable feedback he would need to constantly improve and refine each feature.
On top of that, Thomas could demonstrate to potential investors his capability as an entrepreneur to execute his own ideas by taking an idea from concept all the way through to a fully functional application.
Thomas realized he needed two things in order to build his idea from scratch and get traction: a high-quality online coding bootcamp, and a mentor with CTO experience. After some in-depth research on the best options, Thomas promptly settled on the Firehose Project.
The fact that I've built this fully functional web application with some pretty complex stuff is outstanding. The soft launch of Gignyte was a big success as I saw dozens of users creating accounts and submitting applications. Two thumbs up!
From the start of the Firehose program, Thomas immersed himself in the curriculum, building many of the features he needed for his own application, including user authentication, video uploading and streaming, payment integration, image uploading, and a two-sided marketplace.
Thomas was matched with a Firehose mentor who had previous CTO experience at an early-stage startup, and he was able to get deep technical advice on how to launch new features faster, as well as how to think through the strategy and big picture of building his application.
"I kept a checklist of every feature that I needed for my own application while going through the Firehose curriculum. At the end of each day, I would check off each new feature that I was now able to build on my own."
Thomas launched Gignyte and received dozens of applications within the first few days alone. Now, he’s both growing his team and actively talking with investors following an interview he was invited to with Y-Combinator.