Startup Haven and Startup Poker 2.0 are intended for serious founders, execs and investors of tech startup companies.  In order for Startup Haven events to be a good fit, you should be living, breathing, eating, sleeping and crying the startup experience as a core member of a founding team… or recovering from such an experience.   If you’re an active startup angel investor or VC then you’re welcome at the tables as well.  If you think you are a fit, then read the rest of this page and then fill out this form to apply to be added to the invitee list.  In case you’re unsure whether you qualify, here’s the 411:

1) I’m working full time as a member of the founding team of a tech startup… can I join?

If you’re a full-time founder, co-founder, CEO, CTO, CFO, COO, etc. of a venture-scale startup then rock and roll… Startup Haven is for you!

2) I’m working on my startup but I haven’t quit my day job yet… can I join?

The answer is usually “no”.  Passion, confidence and commitment are hallmarks of entrepreneurship.  Most often, this means pursuing your startup 24/7… and jobs get in the way of that.  Of course, quitting your job to pursue your startup is not a litmus test of a true entrepreneur nor a true startup… but it’s definitely a leading indicator of commitment.  If you haven’t quit your job at Microsoft or Boeing or Amazon in order to pursue your startup then you may not be ready for Startup Haven.  That said, you may be extraordinarily passionate and confident about your startup idea but still need to support yourself (or your family) financially.  That’s totally understandable.  But if you haven’t yet turned your passion into something that most entrepreneurs would recognize as impressive commitment to a viable startup… then Startup Haven and Poker 2.0 may not be a good fit for you.

What’s “impressive” and what’s “viable”?  In a nutshell, something that a room full of serious, committed, full time entrepreneurs who are making huge sacrifices would recognize as kicking ass and taking names.  To be clear, that’s a high standard to meet.  And just because you’ve been working on our ‘nights and weekends’ project for three years doesn’t mean you have something impressive or viable.  We all hope you do someday and one of the ways you’ll know that is that you’ve quit your job to pursue it full time.  And yes, the bar is set higher for you if you’re not working at your startup full time.

If this doesn’t sound like where you are then you may want to wait to join Startup Haven and Poker 2.0.  We’ll be here when you’re ready.

3) I’m the founder of a scalable startup but I haven’t (or don’t plan to) raise capital… can I join?

Absolutely!  Boot-strappers are one of the reasons that Startup Haven events are mostly free and the buyins for Poker 2.0 are kept really low.

4) I’m the CEO or exec of a company that was a startup back in 1996… can I join?

If you were the founding CEO or exec then maybe; the key is how actively involved you are in the startup ecosystem TODAY.  If you were hired to replace a founding team member after the company raised money or in some way “took off” then probably not.  Although if you are now an active investor in startups then welcome aboard!

5) My company has a cool web site… can I join?

If a cool web site supporting an essentially-non-technical-and-non-web-based product/service is your claim to fame as a tech startup then you’re probably not in the right place.  If you are making innovative use of a web site for an essentially non-technical business then welcome aboard.  Zulily is a good example; so is LittleBorrowedDress Zappos, ShapeWays.

6) My startup company offers a product or service that would be valuable for startup companies… can I join?

While there are a very few exceptions, the answer is usually “no”.  Examples of companies not qualified are technology and marketing consultants, web design firms, software development firms, recruiting firms, HR services, financial advisors, social media and marketing firms, hosting companies etc.  The general rule of thumb is that if most of the folks at the tables would be good customers of your company then you’re more suitably a sponsor for the event… although sponsors also get to play so there’s your chance.  That said, if your tech startup company provides a hard core technology Platform (capital “P”… not just a methodology, a service or set of in-house tools) or an essentially “tech” service that startups might use then the answer might be “yes”.  For example the CEOs of Twillio and Big Door Media would both be welcome at the tables, even though they have startups as customers.

7) I represent a non-profit that directly supports startups… can I join?

Absolutely… you’re in.

8) I’m a service provider who understands the value of developing relationships with the tech startup community… can I join?

Tech startups need lawyers, bankers, accountants, financial planners, office space, PR, web hosting, contract software development… and lots of other stuff.  And Startup Haven recognizes the value that great service providers bring to startups.  But in order to maintain a high-quality experience for startup founders, attendance by service providers is strictly limited.  The best way for you to participate as a service provider is to become a sponsor.   Contact for details.

9) My startup is a services company, consulting firm, agency, etc… can I join?

If you’re the founder of a services firm then you’ve done an amazing thing and, yes, you are an entrepreneur.  However, Startup Haven’s mission is to support a specific subset of entrepreneurs, i.e., growth entrepreneurs seeking to launch and grow scalable businesses.  For example, this category includes SAAS companies, large scale ecommerce, technology platform, distributed software, hardware device manufacturing, etc.

10) Luke, I am your father.

Entrepreneurs are mostly capable, confident and often are very well connected in the startup ecosystem.  So after their startup has been acquired or… well… doesn’t get acquired, it’s no surprise that many of these awesome entrepreneurs them go on to get hired by awesome companies that provide valuable products or services to startups and to entrepreneurs.  The entrepreneurial perspective and insight they bring to these companies is invaluable.  But when this happens, those former entrepreneurs usually become ineligible for Startup Haven events because of rule number 8 above.  We look forward to those awesome folks getting back on the horse and doing what they were born to do… and when they do we’ll be here for them.  (Reference to “the dark side” intentionally omitted.)

11) I’m a software/biz dev/design/marketing/project mgmt/etc. professional for a tech startup… can I join?

It takes a village to raise a startup and the employees of startups are critical to their success; but this game is not for you.  There are lots and lots of ways for non-founders to connect in the startup community and you should partake heavily of those opportunities.  When you make the leap yourself and dive deeply into your own startup then we’ll be here for you!

12) My startup is in stealth mode so I can’t say much about what I’m working on… can I join?

Startup Haven may not be a good fit for you.  An essential purpose of Startup Haven is to help startup founders get and give help to and from other founders. We understand the need to protect pending IP and to shield yourself from potential competitors are certain critical times. But if you can’t talk somewhat openly yet then you won’t be able to get much value out of Startup Haven. It might be better for you to consider joining Startup Haven once you are past your IP concerns. We’ll be here when you’re ready.

Still think your a good fit?

If you still think you’re in the right place, then fill out this form to apply to be added to the invitee list.  If we agree with you then you’re in.  Applications are subject to review so don’t be surprised if we have some followup questions or politely invite you to try again when your situation changes.  No matter, don’t fake it and don’t take it personally… space at Startup Haven events, especially Poker 2.0, is very limited and we are striving to create a environment for founders to connect with founders (and investors, of course).