Zana Acquisition + Year in Review

January 13th, 2016   |    By: Wil Schroter

Today I’m really excited to share some great news: we’ve just completed the acquisition of Zana.io, a world-class educational platform for startups.

Zana is the brainchild of my friend Shea Tate-Di Donna. While at True Ventures, she created the well-regarded “True University” to help educate their 150 portfolio companies on the best practices for starting a company. That effort led to the formation of Zana as an extension of Shea’s dream to democratize the type of learning often reserved only for venture-funded Silicon Valley companies.

Educating entrepreneurs is one of the most critical initiatives we’ve embraced at Startups.co, and we couldn’t be happier to bring Zana into our family to help drive us forward.

Now 1 million startups on our platform have free access to industry luminaries such as Steve Blank, Neil Patel, Hiten Shah, Kim Malone Scott, and Matt Mullenweg. There are over 600 high quality, in-depth interviews on every topic from fundraising to customer acquisition to building great culture.

The acquisition of Zana helps drive the Startups.co vision to build a platform to help any entrepreneur launch a great idea.

The Changing Face of Startup Culture

Over at Startups we’ve been been wrestling with a big challenge for a long time: the landscape of entrepreneurship is changing rapidly, but the tools and education to support this change have not kept pace.

Being a startup is no longer about being a venture-backed tech company; it’s about growth. Nowadays everyone leverages tech, whether it’s a yoga studio selling class passes online or a restaurant doing its customer acquisition through social channels.

The future of startup culture isn’t about a limited number of “tech unicorn” companies in a single industry—it’s about a global population of aspiring entrepreneurs in every industry, leveraging technology to change the face of growth and success.

We think of this generation as the “New Entrepreneur”—someone who is tech-savvy, growth-focused and spans all industries from tech to retail to consumer products. 2015 has been a banner year for this generation and the companies that support them like Shopify and Square who have both had multi-billion dollar IPOs this year.

The Full Stack Solution

The challenge with supporting entrepreneurship at such a global scale is that there is no one tool that solves enough of the problem. Founders don’t just need education, or just a tool like crowdfunding, or just consulting… if you want to truly move the meter for startups, you need to do it all.

That’s why our platform is essentially a “full stack” solution for startups, offering education, products, and services to help a Founder from idea to launch. It’s a huge swing, which is why we needed to acquire companies who had already solved critical steps in the startup process to join us.

We’ve been fortunate that so many great Founders have shared our vision and are willing to contribute their greatest asset—their companies and their vision—to helping us change the speed of entrepreneurship so drastically.

3 Years of Serious Growth + Impact

In the past three years, we’ve grown from an idea for how to change entrepreneurship to a team of 150 people helping over 1 million registered startups.

During that time, we’ve acquired 5 venture-backed companies: Clarity.fm, Launchrock, KillerStartups, Zirtual, and now Zana. These companies have been led by brilliant entrepreneurs and backed with over $15 million across 84 angel and venture investors including Mark Cuban, Tony Hsieh, 500 Startups, Mayfield and many others. We are privileged and humbled to be a part of their story.

In that same time period, our platform has had a huge impact on the startup ecosystem:

Startups.co has registered over 1 million startups and 20 million backers, followers, and customers of those companies.

Fundable has helped startups raise over $200M in funding commitments in every industry.

Launchrock has helped 400,000 companies attract over 16 million registered followers and early customers.

Clarity has brought 4,000 world-class mentors to Founders who are now on the phone every 90 seconds with a new expert.

Zirtual Assistants have given Founders back 359,000 hours in the last year alone by joining their team—that’s over 1,000 hours of support every day.

… and that’s just three years. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to see what all of our efforts can do with a combined focus on helping startups.

What’s Next

We’ve been working tirelessly to build the foundation for the Startups platform, and now we’re excited to grow it as quickly as possible.

A vision this big needs lots of people to help execute it. If you’re as passionate about entrepreneurship as we are, we would love for you to join us. We’re hiring over 100 people in the coming year for virtually every position, from marketing to consulting to sales to engineering.

You can learn a little more about that on our jobs page.

We’ve also begun the process of building our new Startups campus in our hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Needless to say, it’s going to be a ton of fun!

Thank you everyone for being a part of this journey. It’s been amazing.

Wil Schroter
Founder + CEO
Startups.co

Special Shout Outs

We’d also like to give a special shout out to all the good folks that went above and beyond to help us this year including Dave McClure, Tammy Camp, Dan Rosen, Jonathan Siegel, Siamak Taghaddos, David Hauser, Jason Calacanis, Lance White, Lew Moorman, Dan Martell, Maren Donovan, Shea Tate-Di Donna, Andrew Warner, Jim Scheinman, Micah Baldwin, and Marc Nager. Your help and contributions mean the world to us.


About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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