How My Startup Grind Led to a Bevy of New Possibilities

Reflecting on the journey from a Palo Alto garage to a $325M company. Join Derek Andersen's gratitude for the Startup Grind community and the evolution of Bevy.

My Palo Alto garage door has the original Startup Grind sticker welcoming people in.

In 2010, some friends started hosting a small community of builders and doers in my little office in Silicon Valley. We called it Startup Grind. Ever since then, we have been building and scaling our community. Six years ago, my co-founders and I started working on a new project to help scale Startup Grind’s community. In the classic “solve your own problem,” we went to work building something only and specifically for us. Originally, we called it the “Startup Grind Dashboard” (not our best name ever), but in looking for a name, we stumbled upon the name Bevy, which means a large group of similar things, or basically what a community is.

Soon after launching, to our surprise, we found others who had the same problems. The first person I showed it to became the first customer. Early on, after a 5-minute demo, a future customer said, “It’s like you’ve been reading my journal; this is exactly what I need.” This feedback pushed us beyond any new product's rejection and setbacks.

In June of 2017, with a handful of enterprise customers, we raised $1M in angel funding and split the team in half, keeping some on SG and the other half going to Bevy. Startup Grind became a shareholder of the new entity, having incubated Bevy’s technology and team.

Today, Bevy is announcing its Series C funding round of $40M, valuing the company at $325M. In 2020, the world finally started to understand the business value the community can bring through in-person and virtual events. With a 100-person team growing to 250 people shortly, Bevy has thus far defied the odds in a competitive $400B virtual event category.

Startup Grind’s influence is woven throughout the funding round. From new investors like 

 who attended our events only to become the headline speaker or 

 who I met 8 years ago and spoke at three SG events or past and present SG team members like TD Lowe and Phin Mpofu. One new investor 

 told me upon meeting him in our first call, “You had me at Startup Grind. I’ve always liked your community.”

Bevy works with enterprises like Google, Salesforce, Snowflake, Adobe, Atlassian, Zendesk, and HubSpot to help build and scale their community, piggybacking off the technology, IP, and methodology we pioneered at Startup Grind.

When I step back and look at what we built and continue to build at Startup Grind, it is remarkable to me. With no standalone product, funding, or installed customer base, we have used a grassroots and word-of-mouth community strategy that has scaled globally to 120 countries. The HQ team of about 20 people and about 2,000 volunteers can educate more startups than any organization I am aware of.

While I’m grateful for Bevy's success, none of this would have been possible without Startup Grind. When people ask me, “What success has come from Startup Grind?” I always point to myself and my co-founders.

Startup Grind Silicon Valley event with the original “Startup Grind” sign, July 2012. Pictured: From left, Derek Andersen, Co-founder of Startup Grind; Co-Founder & CEO of Bevy; and Ann Muira-Ko, General Partner, Floodgate.

Before we started attending Startup Grind events, we were just another company fumbling around, trying to figure out what to do without any real idea of how to build something anyone wanted. However, after each event I attended, I would get a new insight into my business that I took home and implemented over the next few days and weeks. Then, I would attend again the next month, learn something new, and apply it the next month. This went on for years.

After attending hundreds of Startup Grind events, I realized that I had quietly built an entrepreneurial PhD. Listening and learning at Startup Grind at night, and then applying the learnings in the field daily.

During the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, I have spent my days and some nights back where it all began — in the “Startup Grind garage” attached to my house in Palo Alto. New since the last startup? We had two new girls plus the two boys when SG started.

Garage wall with dozens of “Covid” designs my kids have drawn in the past 12-months.

This is the space where I spent 1,000 days working with the early team to build a community person by person and brick by brick, in a strange way, that’s now happened twice, starting all over in this garage, building another company from the ground up.

In the “Startup Grind garage” in Palo Alto, CA, 2012

So, while Startup Grind and Bevy have so far to go to reach their full potential, this is a good opportunity for me to stop and thank this amazing community for all it has taught me.

I am grateful for Startup Grind’s patience in teaching me how to be a leader and product builder. I am grateful to the 15,000 entrepreneurs, investors, and speakers who have come to Startup Grind over the years. I am grateful to the thousands of Chapter Directors who embody our values and are the face of SG in their city and community.

I am excited to discover what Startup Grind will teach me over the next 10 years. I am excited for Bevy to be able to give back to Startup Grind as it becomes a market leader and builds value in equity, giving for the early investment made to build the product.

This week, I pulled out and hung the original Startup Grind banner on the garage door where it’s always belonged. I printed it in a panic before one big event, and we used it for years after that.

The sign looks almost brand new like it wants to be back in action again. This sign has been with us through a lot. Difficult days that all small companies face. Too many startup disappointments and high-fives to remember. A million whiteboard sessions. More late nights than I’d like to admit. Witnessing thousands of calls from every corner of the earth. So many events.

But we are here now with all the momentum, confidence and experience to make the next ten years better than the last ten. I owe that all to the Startup Grind community.

Now, back to work. Gotta keep grinding because we’re just getting started.

March 2021, with the original Startup Grind sign right where it belongs.

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