Why Arizona investors fail to identify homegrown entrepreneurs













Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.

Bernard Baruch



Sep 2, 2014, 2:17pm MST Francine Hardaway Guest blogger

Do you want the good news first or the bad news?

The good news is that my indomitable friend, Mary Juetten, founder of Traklight, has raised $350,000 and gotten herself an article on Tech Crunch. Part of that good news is that Mary is obviously a female founder, and she started Traklight in Arizona.

While we celebrate Mary and her accomplishments, let’s not forget the bad news: Her investment did not come from Arizona. And it didn’t come from Silicon Valley. It came from – drum roll – New York.

What does that mean? It means once again people outside have identified talent where our own community has chosen to ignore it.

If you read this column regularly, you already know that I get increasingly fed up with our community’s incapacity to spot and encourage talented entrepreneurs. That incapacity leads us to brain drain as talented people escape to places that appreciate them more.

And it leads to Phoenix being a second-rate economic powerhouse despite its size.

Traklight is, after a very short period, the leading provider of cloud-based software for identifying and protecting intellectual property. It’s used by both entrepreneurs with valuable IP as well as by the lawyers, law firms and business professionals that service them. Traklight’s patent-pending, subscription-based software is the only self-guided software product that helps users create a customized IP strategy. It also offers the IP Vault, a cloud-based, encrypted storage solution for multiple users to upload, collaborate on and time-stamp sensitive documents.

That’s not so difficult to understand, is it? It’s not as if it were biotech, or cybersecurity, or rocket science. If you are in business, almost any kind of business, you know that protecting your intellectual property can mean the difference between success and failure. Mary says that IP is over 80 percent of most small businesses’ valuation, whether it’s in algorithms, blueprints or recipes.

And yet investors in Arizona did not come out of the woodwork to fund Mary. They never do. She’s an intellectual property lawyer herself. She founded the company to solve a problem she saw in the clients she serviced, and she connected immediately with an experienced team and advisers. As risks go, Traklight is a good bet. The angel group in New York that did the investment said they thought the product was good not only for entrepreneurs, but for investors themselves.

Traklight will use this round of funding to scale sales and marketing efforts as the company builds a national footprint. Over the past year, Traklight has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, many in Arizona, to help them identify and safeguard their intellectual property. In September 2013, the company signed a master services agreement with Infusionsoft, a leading provider for all-in-one sales and marketing software, to help the rapidly growing company capture, retain and leverage its IP and innovation.

The next step is to integrate with large consumer-facing platforms (I’d guess Intuit) to fully serve small businesses and investors. Once that happens, Traklight will blow up into the kind of company that becomes a part of pretty much every business transaction.

And in the meantime, Arizona investors can keep sitting around and discussing when the housing market will pick up again.

Francine Hardaway is a serial entrepreneur, brand strategist and CEO of Stealthmode Partners, an accelerator for entrepreneurs. Reach her at francine@stealthmode.com.





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