Back in 2008, Jonathan Nelson was working as an ER nurse and tinkering on code at home in his spare time. As someone who wasn’t a full-time engineer, he had a hankering to get out of the house and rub elbows with other techies. So he organized a casual meetup at a local bar, inviting other programmers toying with the idea of getting into the startup world to trade stories and talk shop over a beer or two. He called the group exactly what it was: Hackers/Founders.
Quite a bit has changed since then. In the past four years, Hackers/Founders has grown into a full-on movement, boasting thousands of members that take over entire event spaces at their regular networking events. Nelson’s nursing days are now behind him, and he is working full-time on all things H/F, which most recently spawned its own legitimate startup incubator program called Co-op with support from the likes of investors including Greylock, Andreessen Horowitz, Floodgate, Mohr Davidow, Kapor Capital, Felicis Ventures, O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, CMEA, WinFunding, and SV Angel.
Six startups participated in the first ever Co-op program, which was fondly dubbed an “accidental incubator” — Zerply, VidCaster, Tripping, CodeEval, Browserling, and Pieceable — and two have already been acquired.
It’s been an interesting turn of events, so it was nice to have Nelson stop by TechCrunch TV recently to give us the full story. Watch the video embedded above to hear about how H/F has grown from the days when it was just a few guys at a bar, why he thinks Silicon Valley could use another incubator, why H/F’s Co-op takes a 2 percent stake in its portfolio companies (most other incubator programs take 6 to 10 percent), and where he thinks the movement can go from here.