Case Study with Nate Aune, CEO and Founder of Appsembler
What is Appsembler?
Appsembler is transforming how companies interact with their audiences, unleashing the impact of education to build a more empowered world. Appsembler’s experiential learning platform unites traditional learning experiences with the power of immersive, hands-on environments, enabling B2B software companies to build their own online learning and education programs. It’s a way for software companies to deliver technical education to customers, technical audiences (like software developers and DevOps), and employees in a hands-on and effective way.
Partnership with Bigfoot
Nate Aune, CEO and Founder of Appsembler, met Brian Parks, CEO and Founder of Bigfoot Capital through the Techstars network. After Nate expressed a need for a quality financial model for the company, Brian offered to build one for them and offer feedback, taking the time to understand their business and crafting something that would work uniquely well for them.
“My first impression was that Brian was extremely helpful, and personified that “give first” attitude. It left a really favorable impression on me. As a founder himself, he just knew this stuff inside and out and was willing to help.” – Nate Aune, CEO
That helpful attitude carried forward all the way through closing their funding with Bigfoot, which was important to Appsembler when looking for a partner. It wasn’t just about getting capital from someone, but finding someone who could add value.
Bigfoot proved to be more informed from other comparable contenders with their high quality questions to sort out Appsembler’s financial roadmap. They took a straightforward approach to eliminate any onerous work to make everything efficient and expedited without bogging down the process.
The idea behind working with a capital partner came at a time when Appsembler was ready to extend their runway to get their sales up-and-running. In order to bring on additional sales and marketing people, Appsembler wanted to explore the funding options to do that and feel confident in the model.
Without the right capital partner, they found themselves at a standstill to make key investments in the business—leaving them at a place where they would have had to pass on key markets that are fueling Appsembler’s growth today, for example developer marketing.
After learning about Bigfoot’s debt financing model, Appsembler saw it as a unique and alternative opportunity to traditional equity based financing. Taking on debt financing with unique characteristics would allow them to pay down the loan based on incoming revenue through a revenue share agreement, while maintaining equity ownership as they built more value.
Furthermore, Brian and the Bigfoot team have opened up their network with introductions to Nate that align with supporting his growth objectives:
“Bigfoot acted as a referral engine, proactively thinking about network connections for us and anticipating our needs. They were very fast in communication, never drawing out the process and always finding ways for growth – introducing us to partners, investors, and looking at fundraising plans. It was indicative of the kind of partner they would be in the future, and gave us confidence in the long term relationship.”
When bootstrapping a startup, you’re always closely monitoring your runway, so partnering with Bigfoot unlocked capital that enabled Appsembler to pursue their growth objectives. It bought them the resources they needed to fully move to a SaaS model—a turnkey sale and self-service for the user—and gain the first-mover’s advantage in the developer marketing category, the growing industry responsible for marketing to the 27 million developers who are purchasing $40 billion in products every year.
The idea behind working with Bigfoot was that they could re-allocate capital to pursue new growth opportunities that would get their sales up and running and get them to a point where they could feel confident in the model. And it’s worked. For bootstrapped companies looking for the right funding partner, Nate urges founders not to overlook debt financing with the false perception that venture capital is the only path.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without Bigfoot’s belief in me as a founder, as well as the company. We have a richer set of customers today. Brian has helped me to understand what external debt capital can do for a business in accelerating growth, making key hires, and refining our message positioning and business strategy. It’s been eye opening for me as a bootstrapper and from a business perspective, this is the start of many growth periods for us with a pipeline of great opportunities with the right funding partner by our side.”
Appsembler’s cloud-based training platform makes it easy to create and instantly deliver immersive learning experiences that stick. The world’s most forward-thinking organizations – Chef Software, Dremio, Redis Labs and more – trust Appsembler to power their online learning programs. Appsembler knows that effective education requires more than just watching a video. It’s about building online courses that include learn-by-doing experiences, part of Appsembler’s mission to help companies unlock the potential of their customers, developer community, and employees.