May 15, 2017
Leadership & Awards
Affordable College was named a finalist for the Venture Award at the 2017 ASU+GSV Summit and finished 7th among the 270 venture track companies that encompass most of the venture-backed and relevant startups in the industry.
Sean O'Brien
Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades . . . or the ASU+GSV Summit?

The ASU+GSV Summit is widely considered the most important edtech investor event in the world. As I recapped in my mind what almost became a big win last week when we were named a finalist for the Venture Award at the ASU+GSV Summit, a couple of thoughts came to mind. Is almost winning an award a win or or does Ricky Bobby have it right?

I have to be honest, it felt like a win when I got this email from someone on the GSV team while standing in the lobby of the Grand America in Salt Lake City last Wednesday on the final day of the event.

Sean - your company is one of the finalists for the venture competition. Just wanted to check in and see if you are still around tonight. We are still tallying up the final scores and will have results in the next few hours. In case you are one of the top 3, will you be able to give a presentation during the closing dinner tonight to the entire audience?
 
Thanks

To which I responded, “hell yeah”. Turned out we finished 7th among the 270 venture track companies that encompass most of the venture-backed and relevant startups in the industry.  What’s that mean?

When I got the email Wednesday it felt like a win. An earlier email I got from a conference organizer said this,"Venture Judging Competition: As part of the Summit, we will be judging the presentations made by venture stage companies.  Company presentations will be rated based on the following criteria rated numerically: People (Passion, Qualifications, Articulation), Potential (Large addressable market, Scalable business model, Does it meet a need, What trends does it play into), Product (Does it meet a critical need, Can it scale, Can they be a category leader, Do they have a claim to fame), and Predictability (What are the highway sign posts to success, Does the company have a clear roadmap to gauge success, Do they have operating leverage). Winners will be selected based on judges' tabulations, announced at the Wednesday night awards dinner, and given the opportunity to present in front of the entire summit audience." 

Sitting here today, I believe I was right to feel that way. We’ve come a long way and validated the most important assumptions about our business. We have a talented team together ready to solve a big problem and build a big company. We have almost a dozen community college and university partners working alongside us helping hundreds of students save time and money on their degree as we generate revenue, far more students than we thought we’d be helping at this point.

Small wins matter. Being selected as a finalist is just that. We’ll take it and get back to work. Here’s the video of the pitch if you’re interested in seeing it.