"I STRUGGLE to understand this idea that there's a shortage of Tech talent in Nashville," said Chris Korbey, founder and CEO of Arcivr, the Cloud-based photo-sharing and collaboration platform based here.
Neither, he said, does he quite grasp why so many new entrepreneurs are, from the outset, bent on building companies to exit, rather than holding and developing them for the longer haul.
Korbey began developing Arcivr in September 2013, recruited "hundreds" of users of its Web-based beta version beginning in December, and then introduced 1.0 this past Spring. Now, he's prepping for the mid-October launch of its 2.0 mobile app, to be followed by v2.5 in December.
He said he believes that, in addition to its ease of use and its feature suite, the fact that Arcivr usage is absolutely private -- with no data ever mined to woo advertisers -- will be a major competitive advantage.
Though the lean Archivr team is tightly focused on its app-launch priority, Korbey said sector-savvy representatives of local, national and international companies that have partnership ideas are welcome to approach. Document uploading, printing services, marketing partnerships and many other issues are to be addressed.
Asked about funding, 39-year-old Korbey said that while he considers a number of contingency plans, his current gameplan seems very likely to stand the test of time.
Soon after the concept that became Archivr popped into Korbey's head in July 2013, he called a former client of his then Dallas-based Meat+Bones ad agency. That call to Austin-based Robert Turner -- now his 50:50 co-owner in Arcivr -- resulted in charting a path toward a possible $750K total investment by Turner, who heads Wentwood Capital Advisors Group, a specialized direct real-estate investment and related fund and asset management company. Turner's company handles Arcivr's HR and other requirements, and Arcivr is Texas-chartered.
Korbey said he has been approached informally by potential individual and institutional investors, but no additional investors are likely to be needed if, as is expected, Turner pulls the trigger on the final third of his original $750K target.
Korbey acknowledged he is working with his attorney to organize "our technical, legal and HR documents to simplify due-diligence" if a different transaction is needed. "It's not on our radar," he said, adding that he simply wants to have "a sense of how that process unfolds and to be sure we're in the best possible position, if something does occur."
Korbey said he loves Nashville and is glad he and his family moved here, after agency stints in New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Dallas.
Korbey was recruited here in 2012 by e-mail marketing SaaS Emma, and spent 18 months there as creative director, before launching Arcivr. He and his work are still praised by folks at Emma, VNC found.
Korbey easily explains his view on the local Tech-talent supply, which many locals decry as inadequate: Korbey notes that in a connected world, it usually matters very little where your key staff are located, if you take other steps to cultivate those relationships. In addition, Korbey said he encounters plenty of smart people here and sees Nashville as having "so much potential."
Foregoing a career in New York left Korbey missing both friends and New York pizza, he said. Fortunately, Korbey rents space from Tennessee Community Ventures, a TNInvestco fund led by another New York veteran, Eric Satz, whom Korbey described as "my friend and my landlord." Arcivr's office is at 1204 Elmwood Ave. (37212).
As for rejecting the build-to-sell mindset, Korbey said he believes too many startup leaders try to build too quickly, with too little runway and who end-up essentially guessing their way from pivot to pivot.
Not that Korbey has moved slowly. It was just 15 months ago that he pitched the Arcivr idea to Turner. Breakeven is projected for Summer 2016, on what Korbey described as "a pretty conservative" timeline.
As for Arcivr's distributed team: Korbey said that in Nashville there are himself; and, wife Holly Korbey, a working broadcast and print journalist who frequently focuse on education issues, and who now also handles Arcivr content and social media. CTO Kevin McConnell remains based Wisconsin; and, fulltime UX contractor Chris Schetter is based in the D.C. area.
Arcivr's advisors include Nashville attorney Michael Stahl, a sole practitioner who was previously with Nashville-based NuSirt Sciences, and was earlier an associate with Silicon-Valley-based Gunderson Dettmer. Stahl advises Korbey in his transactions with Turner. The company banks with Austin-based Benchmark Bank.
Korbey's Salem, New Hampshire-based father, Hon. Judge John A. Korbey, is another important sounding-board, said the founder.
He said he has been talking with potential PR advisors this month, but has made no decision. In an earlier interview for this story, he said he's likely to go with a firm that has New York and/or Silicon Valley presence.
Given Arcivr's "super-lean" staffing model -- with a handful of freelancers hired for surge assignments -- more full-time hires are unlikely, said Korbey.
He said Arcivr's potential competitors include Apple's Aperture and iPhoto, Facebook, Flickr, PictureLife, LightRoom, and others.
Before joining Emma, Korbey's ad-marketing clients included Southwest Airlines, McGraw-Hill, Stetson, T-Mobile, PayPal and several major universities, among others. His LinkedIn profile is here.
Chris and Holly Korbey have three sons, ages 4 to 11, and the family resides in Davidson County.
According to Korbey's humorous account, the parents are often running a perpetual tag-team, juggling their parenting and their work for Arcivr, as well as Holly's reporting for affiliates of National Public Radio (NPR), The New York Times and other media. VNC