FORGE graduate selected for Techstars Anywhere Class of 2021!

Feb. 11, 2021

FORGE in the news 

FORGE was featured alongside the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) in today’s Arizona Daily Star. Our pilot program awarded spots to FORGE AEP graduates Obánj, Metfora, and Dive in UACI’s incubator. Another example of the central role the University of Arizona plays in supporting our entrepreneurial ecosystem!

Read more - Tucson Tech: New partnership forms pipeline of startups between UA agencies


Graduate of our first AEP cohort and FORGE family, Stackhouse was selected for the nationally competitive Techstars Anywhere Accelerator!

If you’ve been following us on social media, you know that a graduate of FORGE’s startup acceleration programs, Stackhouse, was recently selected for the Techstars Anywhere Accelerator Class of 2021. They were one of only 10 startups chosen from hundreds of applications for this highly competitive program, and we couldn’t be prouder.

A startup’s story can so easily become about the headlines and highlight reel, and this is definitely a moment to celebrate. But in ‘The Messy Middle’ by Scott Belsky, he writes about how people tend to view ventures from the starting and ending points and ignore all of the hard work in between. Since FORGE was an integral part of that, we wanted to share some takeaways that other founders can learn from as they embark on their entrepreneurial journey.

Stackhouse was founded by Ryan Egan and Janelle Briggs, and is a real estate startup building vertical docking communities for movable container homes in downtown cities. Ryan and Janelle had been developing this concept for about three years, during which time, they received support from local ecosystem partners like Startup Tucson and many others. They came to FORGE with one big challenge: they needed financing to start building their first location, and limited time to get it done.

 Stackhouse Founders, Ryan Egan (COO) and Janelle Briggs (CEO), Pictured from left to right. Image courtesy of Stackhouse

Stackhouse was a participant in the very first cohort of the then named “Accelerated Entry Program.” They rose quickly to the top of the ranks and earned a spot in the FORGE Ahead resident program. They stood out for their strong presentation skills and their ability to look critically at their team. Through working with their peers and mentors, they made the pivotal decision to have Janelle step into the CEO role, taking over from Ryan. This proved to be the right choice in propelling the venture forward.

FORGE Ahead put them in front of angels and other investors, but it wasn’t a good fit. They were too risky for traditional real estate and not big enough a return-on-investment for VC. Through Community Investment Corporation, they were introduced to WeFunder, who was launching under the new SEC equity crowdfunding rules. This brought the capital they needed.

For the last few years, we had been building rapport with Techstars and their various accelerator programs. After meeting with Techstars Anywhere Managing Director Ryan Kuder, we made an introduction. When Stackhouse applied, we wrote their recommendation. Through this all, Ryan and Janelle did the hard work and earned their success.

Key in all this are a number of things:

  • Keep working at your idea, listening to peers and experts.
  • You will hear “no” a lot. Don’t get discouraged, but don’t ignore it either.
  • Your startup will not fit all funding situations. Alternatives abound.
  • Leverage your network, and follow through when it steps up for you.

We encourage all entrepreneurs to educate themselves on the funding options for early-stage ventures, as well as the pitfalls associated with them. FORGE led the writing of a community-based white paper for aspiring and first-time founders. You can read the full paper here.

 In closing, we hope you’ll join us in congratulating Janelle and Ryan of Stackhouse on this big win and wish them the very best as they make a name for themselves and the Tucson startup community on this global stage.