By Mark Tullis | Posted - Jul 10th, 2023

 

 

 

 

Investor Mindset: Alpine 100, an Emerging Early Stage Investor in the Utah Tech Ecosystem

Finding and funding exceptional early stage startups is the passion of Dave Card and Scott Wyssling, founders of Alpine 100 and WC Alpine (referred to as Alpine 100 hereafter).

Originally from New Jersey, Scott Wyssling moved to Utah ten years ago. A skilled solar engineer, Wyssling was recruited by Vivint Solar in 2014 to lead Vivint Solar’s Engineering Department. All residential solar installations engineering certifications. Two years later, Vivint Solar experienced downsizing and let Wyssling go, and absent a non-compete agreement, Wyssling formed his own solar engineering startup, Wyssling Consulting, (Alpine, UT). Now with over 40 employees and many contractors, the company has grown to become a leading solar engineering consulting firm, accounting for nearly a quarter of all US electrical and structural rooftop solar engineering certifications and amassing the largest database of its type in the US, says the company.

In 2020, David Card, an entrepreneur, avid outdoorsman, serial interim XO, and private investor, joined engineering- and restaurant-entrepreneur Scott Wyssling as an interim officer of Wyssling’s company, Wyssling Consulting LLC, which Wyssling had established before his tenure at Vivint Solar. Card and Wyssling implemented a growth strategy that resulted in a 3X growth rate within their first year together, propelling Wyssling Consulting to become a major player in the solar engineering field with a customer acquisition rate of over 10,000 new solar accounts per month. In 2022 they decided to form an investment company to help other startup companies achieve similar levels of success.

At the same time, Wyssling and his wife, Lucy, established Lucy’s Brazilian Kitchen in downtown Provo. Lucy now serves as HR Manager at Wyssling Consulting.

According to Alpine 100’s investment thesis, Card and Wyssling are looking for startup candidates that have 1) an operating history of at least one year, 2) an MVP in place, and 3) some market validation as measured by at least $10K of sales per month.

“We want them to be in the market and to know that their product is working,” said Card, Co-founder of the fund, who does most of the research on potential investments and presents the candidates to Wyssling after initial diligence is in place.

After checking the boxes on the above criteria, Card then looks at the management team to make sure they have relevant industry experience for the product they are marketing. Then they do background checks and additional diligence on companies they are interested in. They turn around term sheets in 60 to 90 days. 

A typical Alpine 100 check size is $500K to $1 million for a 15 to 20% equity stake. Card says their practice so far has been to negotiate down between $5M to $8M in the company’s valuations before they invest. “Most founders think their company is worth a $100 million right now. But the reality is without capital and without the right help, they generally go nowhere. We want to be a main player, not just a piggy-back player, right from the get go,” said Card, who typically takes a board seat and participates in weekly meetings with the management team of its portfolio companies.

Card and Wyssling generally avoid using SAFE notes. “A lot of companies don't realize the potential danger they are in by giving away too much of their company through SAFEs; it can really come back and bite them down the road,” says Card. “We come in as an equity player, and once we're in, we help build revenue and management and prepare the company for a Series A or maybe a larger seed round down the road. We know how to stair-step a company on that path.”

Alpine 100’s involvement includes attending part of the company's weekly management meetings to provide feedback and guidance, which lasts for a period of two to four months before gradually reducing interaction as the company progresses. Alpine 100 typically secures one board seat in the portfolio companies that they invest in. The boards they participate in are generally small, consisting of three to five individuals. As the company progresses, additional industry experts may be added to the board if it aligns with the company's needs and proves beneficial. In addition to the investment criteria, the portfolio companies are required to read the book Traction by Gino Wickman and implement its principles as part of their operating platform. Wickman’s traction methodology, also known as Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), is Alpine 100’s preferred approach to running the business. Card says EOS as a comprehensive system that provides a framework for effective entrepreneurial management. Alpine 100 expects portfolio companies to fully embrace and implement EOS as a guiding principle in their day-to-day operations.

Alpine 100’s services also include connecting companies with additional funding sources such as venture capital and private equity and acting as the representative for companies when engaging with external financial partners. Their board advisory services contribute to the strategic growth of these companies, assisting them in reaching the next level of success. Even companies that are not yet ready for financing can benefit from Alpine 100's coaching and mentoring services at no cost until they are prepared to secure funding or financing. Acting as a Mentor/Advisor, Alpine 100 helps mitigate risk and ensures that proper reporting and updates are provided to lenders, further enhancing the stability and credibility of the companies they work with.

2022 was a prep year in which Card and his team conducted research on potential investments. Then this year, 2023, Alpine 100 began investing in earnest. So far this year, it has funded five companies. 

Alpine 100 jointly invested with Blue Diamond Capital in Kiln, a rapidly growing co-working community offering flexible office space to entrepreneurs and small businesses. Alpine 100 is helping Kiln fund their expansion into five new locations such as Boise, Boulder, Gilbert and other Utah-adjacent locations.

Another Alpine 100’s investment is technology repair company, TickTockTech, located in Lehi and similar to Geek Squad but with the advantage of not being tied to a single entity like Best Buy. Alpine 100 is strategically expanding the company's presence by establishing representatives in different territories across the United States and Canada While some may view this as a marginally successful business model, the firm's approach focuses on leveraging the trust of established technicians visiting homes to initiate dialogues about customers' broader technology needs. By identifying long-term requirements, the firm can schedule follow-ups and explore shared revenue opportunities with providers of services such as solar energy, home automation, and home security systems. 

In addition, Alpine 100 has helped Tick Tock Tech partner with one of the largest DIY home security companies in the country, enabling the potential for revenue sharing between the provider and TickTockTech.

Alpine 100 has also funded Olumo, a Lehi startup with disruptive technology helping executives solve problems such as attracting and retaining talent, driving business, and engaging customers. Through anonymous texting, Olumo also provides leaders and management teams with real-time insights into the pulse of the company. This approach fosters employee engagement and retention by empowering them to contribute feedback beyond traditional annual evaluations or quarterly meetings. 

MotionOps, a SaaS model for service companies, is another company that Alpine 100 has funded. MotionOps has powerful software and tools that are capable of disrupting this multi-billion dollar industry that is fraught with poor customer ratings poor software solutions and overpriced options for most small to mid-size service companies.

Yoodlize, a peer to peer rental platform is another one of Alpine 100’s investments. Yoodlize is mission driven and has set out to change the consumer mindset to an experience mindset of renting versus purchasing. They believe we can either spend our time accumulating money to accumulate “stuff” or we can rent “stuff” and have great experiences with the people we care about.

Alpine 100 has also signed a term sheet with 3Dio, an Orem-based dental imaging technology company with unique and advanced capabilities. By enabling dentists to visualize cracks, root structures, and other intricate details in three dimensions. Similar to how mammograms changed the cancer screening practices for breast cancer, 3Dio’s technology is positioned to revolutionize the industry, says Card. The founder and CEO, Clark Turner, brings extensive experience in medical imaging devices, including portable X-ray machines used by professional sports teams. Card believes that 3Dio's affordable pricing and transformative potential position it as a significant player in the dental imaging market. 

Alpine 100’s investment decisions demonstrate an eclectic approach driven by Card's and Wyssling's confidence in Utah's vibrant entrepreneurship environment that generates new ideas and opportunities in many industry sectors.

 
Mark Tullis
About the Author

Mark Tullis - Mark is Co-founder and Editor of TechBuzz News. Born and raised in Ogden, Utah, Mark attended Weber State, Brigham Young, and Tufts Universities. He has been involved in tech, media, publishing and education since the 1980s. He enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, and playing the saxophone.

 

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