Joshua Baer is the founder of Capital Factory, a coworking community and mentorship-based accelerator designed to help startups find their first investors, customers, and employees. Joshua founded his first startup in 1996 in his college dormitory at Carnegie Mellon University and now teaches a class at the University of Texas for student entrepreneurs. He was recognized as a Henry Crown Fellow and Braddock Scholar at the Aspen Institute, a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations Young LeadersForum, and an Eisenhower Fellow.
My mission is to help people quit their jobs and become entrepreneurs. I believe this is what I was put on the Earth to do and it is the biggest impact I can have on individual people as well as on all of human society. Entrepreneurship is a gift that brings financial independence and, at the same time, the skills and resources to affect positive change in the world. Entrepreneurs are changemakers and innovators by definition, and helping to create just one has a ripple effect that is felt by thousands of people.
Texas, in particular, is a unique and enticing location for entrepreneurs, and it’s only going to keep expanding. Texans are scrappy and focused, which has led the state to become a leader in innovation as part of a global ecosystem. We have 4 of the 10 largest and fastest-growing cities in the country that are all within driving distance of each other. No city lives in isolation anymore— we are all connected. Our economies are connected. Our food systems are connected. Our health systems are connected. More connections means more business, more investors, more revenue, more growth, and more innovation.
I started angel investing around the time that I sold my first company in 2005. Pretty quickly I learned that there were basically two kinds of angel investors – purely financial investors who are looking to maximize their financial return on each individual deal and successful entrepreneurs whose personal reputation is more important than any one individual deal.
I invest in startups to pay it forward and help other people change the world. It’s only sustainable if it makes money, but that’s not the primary motivator. Capital Factory was started as a way to get together with other angel investors who had a similar philosophy. From there it grew into a mentoring program, a matching investment fund and accelerator, a co-working space, an event center, and an ecosystem.