Joshua Baer

Capital Factory Executive Director Joshua Baer (right) talks with Deeda Payton Lovett, general manager of Community Impact Newspaper’s Central Austin edition. Capital Factory Executive Director Joshua Baer (right) talks with Deeda Payton Lovett, general manager of Community Impact Newspaper’s Central Austin edition.[/caption]

Joshua Baer is the founder and executive director of Capital Factory, a technology startup incubator and coworking space.

Capital Factory’s 55,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Austin hosted 32,000 entrepreneurs, programmers and designers at more than 700 events, meetups and classes in 2014. The incubator also welcomed President Barack Obama, who toured the facility in 2013.

Through his work at Capital Factory, Baer is an entrepreneur who helps other entrepreneurs.

“It’s the little wins that still get me excited,” he said. “It’s like when I helped one of my companies recruit an awesome chief technology officer ... it’s not like I made the company. I didn’t make the CTO, but I made the introduction, and I helped convince them to go do it. If I wasn’t there, it probably wouldn’t have happened. That’s really rewarding.”

What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

Not surprisingly I look back at my family, and I am completely surrounded by entrepreneurs. ... So while I think that may have affected my personality a little bit, I think the biggest thing it did is it made [being an entrepreneur] very accessible and possible.

So I think that was one really big part of it, and then I’m not a very good employee. I just saw pretty early on that I really enjoy being in a leadership role.

What are you looking for when you’re looking to invest?

My sweet spot is technology and software businesses. That’s what I know about. That’s what I’ve started and worked with. There are so many of them out there all over the world, and it’s [now] much easier to reach people all over the world.

I’ve had to really define, ‘What is it that I do?’ In some ways [it is easier to define what I do not do].
For me I have two hashtags for investing. Those are #email and #Austin. I’ve started three email companies. So if you’re an email company then I don’t care where you are, I can help you. ... With Austin, I don’t care what you do. I can help. Because of what we’ve built at Capital Factory and because of this great network of investors, mentors and talent and a bunch of other things to help, those are my two pieces.

How prepared should someone be with their idea or inspiration to know they are in a good place to quit their job?

I teach an entrepreneurship class at [The University of Texas], and one of my students asked this question.
They’re asking, ‘When I graduate, how do I know if I should actually do it or go get a job somewhere?’ I think—and this is nothing scientific—but on some level I meet people and there are some people who look at the situation and [either] see an opportunity or a problem, and they see a million things to do.

They may not know which [thing] is most important or which they need to do next, but they’re like, ‘I need to do this, and I need to do this.’

They should just quit their job and go do it. ... So you meet someone, and they’re ready. You can’t stop them at that point. It’s kind of like, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in love, but when you know, you know. If you have to ask the question then you’re not.

How many times do you have to fail before you’re successful, in your experience?

Keep failing until you’re successful. People ask, ‘How’s that company going?’ On some level it’s like, ‘Well they haven’t failed yet. They’re still going.’

When is it a success? When did you make it? Sometimes you don’t really know that for a really long time. I’ve been involved in starting a half dozen very successful businesses, and I’m sure that I’ve started a half-dozen projects that … didn’t work.

Austin startups get a lot of attention, but do you see innovation coming from other communities such as Pflugerville, San Marcos or Round Rock?

I don’t discriminate. I think of Austin very broadly. I think of the whole region or the whole area.

We’re looking at Capital Factory for ways we can do a better job of serving the whole region.
By Joe Olivieri
Joe covered Southwest Austin news for Community Impact Newspaper from January 2011 to April 2015. His reporting focused on new businesses, development, transportation, industry and Travis County issues. He was named the paper's managing editor in April 2015. Joe hails from New Jersey.


MOST RECENT

Take a look at how coronavirus impacted Williamson County this week. (Chance Flowers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Take a look at how coronavirus impacted Williamson County this week

The county reported 596 total cases on May 29.

The Williamson County small-business grant program has issued more than $18.5 million as of May 29. (Ali Linan/Community Impact)
Williamson County small-business grant program issues more than $18.5 million

The program has aided more than 1,600 local businesses.

Williamson County and Cities Health District reported eight new cases of coronavirus May 29, bringing the county total to 596. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
1 death and 8 new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported May 29 in Williamson County

Williamson County and Cities Health District reported the total number of cases at 596.

(Courtesy Fotolia)
New school schedules and a road opening: Latest news from Central Texas

Read the latest news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of the Central Texas area.

Williamson County reports additional coronavirus-related death May 28. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County reports additional coronavirus-related death May 28

“Our hearts are with the family who lost their loved one due to this deadly disease," Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said.

Southwestern University has released a campus plan for the fall 2020 semester. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Southwestern University releases campus plan for fall 2020 semester

The semester will begin Aug. 24 for in-person classes.

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

Georgetown business owners reflect on the impact of coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Georgetown business owners reflect on the impact of coronavirus

“Being on top of the world and [just] crashing down was just heartbreaking," one business owner said.

Each eligible child will receive $285 in benefits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Some Texas students eligible for one-time federal benefit to aid with food purchases

Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits.

Williamson County judges are continuing to hold court even as the coronavirus pandemic forces the courts to enter digital spaces. (Chance Flowers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Justice continues in Williamson County even as courtrooms go virtual

Williamson County judges are continuing to hold court even as the coronavirus pandemic forces the courts to enter digital spaces.

Williamson County confirmed coronavirus cases have reached 588. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
4 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Williamson County, which has reported more than 9,800 tests

Currently, 15 patients are hospitalized, and seven are in intensive care, per the report.