Newchip Accelerator’s Meteoric Rise and Sudden Demise: The Inside Story by Andrew Ryan

The Spark of a Revolution

When I founded Newchip in 2016, it wasn’t just about starting a company. It was about igniting a revolution. A revolution in how startups were funded, how ideas were brought to life, and how the everyday person could be part of something extraordinary.

I had seen firsthand the opaque, clubby world of venture capital. I watched brilliant entrepreneurs with groundbreaking ideas get shut out because they didn’t have the right alma mater or didn’t play golf with the right people. It was a system that rewarded pedigree over potential, insider connections over innovative thinking. And I knew it was a system ripe for disruption.

The passage of Title IV of the JOBS Act opened a door. It was a door to a new era of equity crowdfunding, a chance to democratize startup investing and give everyday people a seat at the table. I saw it as a chance to create something truly game-changing — a platform that could aggregate and simplify startup investing, making it accessible to the non-accredited investor.

I named it Newchip, reclaiming a term that had been used to disparage fledgling tech companies. To me, it represented the underdogs, the disruptors, those daring to challenge the status quo.

Building the Platform of the Future

Launching Newchip was an exercise in defiance. We were defying the skeptics who doubted a young, unconventional founder. We were defying the regulatory maze, navigating ambiguities with agility and grit. We were defying the very notion of who could be an investor and what kinds of companies deserved funding.

But defiance alone doesn’t build a successful company. We had to build a platform that could actually deliver on the promise of democratized investing. It meant rigorous vetting processes to ensure the startups on our platform were legitimate. It meant a user interface that could make complex financial transactions feel intuitive and accessible. It meant a revenue model that balanced the interests of investors, startups, and our own need for sustainability.

None of it was easy. We faced scrutiny at every turn, from regulators, from competitors, from the very industry we sought to disrupt. There were moments of doubt, when the barriers seemed insurmountable and the critics seemed right.

But we persevered. We knew we were building something important, something that could change lives and reshape the future of innovation. With every obstacle we overcame, with every investor who found an opportunity they never would have had access to before, with every entrepreneur who saw their vision come to life thanks to the power of the crowd, we knew we were on the right track.

Navigating the Crypto Winter

By 2018, we had hit our stride. Newchip was gaining recognition as a pioneer in the equity crowdfunding space. We had a thriving community of investors and a pipeline of promising startups. But then, the crypto winter hit.

The chill that swept over the venture ecosystem was brutal. Regulatory scrutiny intensified, particularly around our aspirations to create a NASDAQ-like trading platform. There were concerns about oversight, about investor protections, about the viability of the entire model.

It was a moment of reckoning. We had to make a choice: try to weather the storm with our current model, or pivot to something new. We chose the latter.

Selling our iOS app was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. It was our baby, the tangible product of countless hours of hard work and innovation. But it was also the key to our future. By selling to KingsCrowd, we freed up resources to focus on what we saw as the next frontier: a global, remote accelerator program.

The Rise of the Remote Accelerator

The idea of a fully remote accelerator was uncharted territory. Accelerators had always been about in-person connections, about the serendipity of hallway conversations and the intensity of demo days. Could that magic be replicated in a digital format?

We believed it could. More than that, we believed it must. We saw a world where geography was no longer a barrier to entrepreneurship, where a brilliant founder in Mumbai or Nairobi could access the same resources and mentorship as one in Silicon Valley.

Building out the program was a colossal undertaking. It meant investing in a tech stack that could facilitate seamless global collaboration. It meant designing a curriculum that could be delivered effectively online. It meant recruiting mentors who could provide value remotely and finding ways to foster community and connection across time zones and screens.

But perhaps the most crucial piece was sharing the fundraising strategies I had used to raise millions. We focused on equipping founders with the tools to navigate the new digital landscape of startup funding. It was about empowerment, about giving them the keys to their own success.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, it was a moment of profound validation. With the world in lockdown and in-person programs grinding to a halt, we were uniquely positioned to be a lifeline for entrepreneurs. The demand was overwhelming. Suddenly, we weren’t just an option; we were the only option.

Scaling at that speed was not without its challenges. Ensuring each founder got the hands-on support they needed while juggling exploding cohort sizes was a constant balancing act. Finding mentors who could adapt to our unique model and provide value remotely was an ongoing challenge.

But the impact we were having made it all worth it. We were helping startups not just survive but thrive during one of the most tumultuous periods in recent history. We were proving that great ideas and great entrepreneurs could come from anywhere.

Our programs were seeing success rates that defied industry norms. In a world where 99% of startups fail, we were helping our founders beat the odds. It wasn’t about creating the next Facebook or finding a unicorn, but about incrementally improving the global success rate of startups. It was less glamorous, perhaps, but arguably more meaningful.

The real testament to our impact were the stories of the founders themselves. Hearing how our program had been a lifeline, how it had given them the tools and confidence to pursue their dreams despite the chaos of the world around them — that’s what kept us going.

We embraced our role as the underdog accelerator, the one championing the misfits and the long shots. Our lean operation and below-market salaries were a feature, not a bug. It was proof of our scrappiness, our commitment to the mission over the frills.

Of course, not everyone understood that. As our profile grew, so did the scrutiny and the skepticism. There were those who questioned our model, our pricing, our very reason for being. But we knew the truth of the impact we were having, even if it didn’t fit neatly into the traditional narratives of startup success.

The Gathering Storm

Despite the validation of our model and the impact we were having, I could sense the clouds gathering on the horizon as we entered the second half of 2022. The era of easy money and soaring valuations was coming to an end. The whispers of an impending recession were turning into shouts.

I tried to sound the alarm, to advocate for preemptive measures to weather the coming storm. But change is never easy, especially for a team that had grown so close through the intensity of the pandemic years. My calls for downsizing were met with fierce resistance.

As the economic outlook darkened, our once-bright revenue projections began to look increasingly out of reach. Tensions simmered and then boiled over with alleged attempts to wrest control of the company.

The final blow came with the collapse of SVB, the bank that had been a lifeline for so many startups and venture funds. With our runway evaporating and challenges mounting from every direction, we were forced to take the drastic step of seeking bankruptcy protection.

It was a humbling and painful experience. Our lack of preparedness for the legal complexities of the process was laid bare. The model of underpricing services with the aim of making it up in volume, a model employed by so many venture-backed startups, proved to be a vulnerability we couldn’t overcome.

The bitter icing on the cake was the personal allegations against me. Though they were never substantiated, the toll they took was profound. The simplistic public narrative of either “saint” or “villain” felt like a crude caricature of the complex realities of startup leadership.

A Legacy in the Making

As I reflect on Newchip’s journey, it’s with a mix of pride and painful lessons learned. We set out to change the game, to open up the world of startup investing and give every brilliant idea a fighting chance. And despite the challenges and the ultimate outcome, I believe we made a real difference.

Over the years, we helped thousands of startups chase their dreams. They raised billions in funding, funding that might never have been possible without a platform like ours. The ripple effects of that will be felt for years to come, as those companies grow, innovate, and shape our world.

During the depths of the pandemic, when the very future of innovation seemed in doubt, we kept the flame of entrepreneurship burning. We were a beacon of possibility and support for founders around the globe.

Our legal vindication, while personally significant, also carries a broader lesson about the importance of due process and evidence over sensationalism and snap judgments.

Newchip’s story is ultimately one of daring greatly, of reaching for a revolutionary vision even in the face of long odds and entrenched opposition. We challenged the status quo and dared to imagine a different kind of startup ecosystem.

The final chapters of our impact are yet to be written. They will be authored by the entrepreneurs we empowered, the ideas we helped bring to life, the investors we connected with opportunities they never would have found otherwise.

Looking ahead, my belief in the transformative power of entrepreneurship is unshaken. The lessons I’ve learned, the battles I’ve fought, they’ve only strengthened my resolve to keep pushing for a more inclusive, more accessible future where every great idea has a shot.

Newchip’s legacy is one of resilience, of innovation, of the enduring power of a vision. It’s a legacy forged in the crucible of both triumphs and setbacks. It’s a legacy that reminds us that changing the world is never easy, but always worth it.

For in the end, our true measure will not be in the headlines or even the bottom line, but in the dreams we dared to chase and the future we helped to shape. That is the real revolution, and it’s only just beginning.

The Road Ahead After Newchip

As I look to the road ahead, I do so with a mix of battle scars and hard-earned wisdom. The journey of Newchip has been a masterclass in the thrills and spills of startup life. It’s been a rollercoaster of dizzying highs and gut-wrenching lows, of triumphs that seemed to defy gravity and setbacks that felt like they might be the end of the road.

But through it all, the core of what we set out to do, the fundamental rightness of our mission, has never wavered. Democratizing access to startup investing, opening the doors of opportunity to entrepreneurs and investors alike, creating a more level and inclusive playing field — these are not just worthy goals, they are necessary ones.

The events of the past few years, from the pandemic to the economic upheaval to our own company’s challenges, have only underscored the importance of this work. In a world of increasing uncertainty and inequality, the role of entrepreneurship as a driver of innovation, job creation, and economic resilience has never been more critical.

So as I reflect on the legacy of Newchip and look to the future, I do so with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. The lessons we’ve learned, often painfully, will inform and guide the next chapter. The relationships we’ve built, with entrepreneurs, investors, and partners around the globe, will be the foundation for what comes next.

There will be new challenges, new obstacles, new reasons for the skeptics to doubt. But there will also be new opportunities, new breakthroughs, new reasons to believe that a different way is possible.

And through it all, the spirit of Newchip will endure. The spirit of the underdog, the disruptor, the dreamer who dares to imagine a better way. The spirit of resilience in the face of adversity, of perseverance in pursuit of a vision. The spirit of innovation, not for its own sake, but for the sake of the lives and communities it can transform.

That spirit is bigger than any one company, any one founder, any one moment in time. It’s the spirit of entrepreneurship itself, the eternal human drive to create, to build, to solve problems and make things better.

And so, as one chapter closes and another begins, I look forward with hope and resolve. The road ahead will not be easy, but it will be worth it. For in the end, this is about something much bigger than any one of us. It’s about the world we want to build, and the role each of us must play in building it.

The Newchip story is far from over. In many ways, it’s just beginning. And I, for one, can’t wait to see where it leads next.

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