HubSpot co-founder and chief technology officer Dharmesh Shah may be the most under-the-radar yet influential figures in the Boston startup community, which is quite a feat for someone helping to run a company well known for its signature bright orange logo. Oh, and the inbound marketing company he founded with Brian Halligan is also at the top of the list of local private companies rumored to be going public soon.
Time and time again, Shah’s name has come up among local entrepreneurs as someone who is respected for his calming influence as a startup mentor and advisor. One of Boston’s most active angel investors, Shah has funded more than 50 companies as an individual investor.
So it is no surprise that Shah is the catalyst for HubSpot’s latest initiative, announced this morning, which will make the company’s inbound marketing software more affordable and accessible to early-stage startups.
Called Jumpstart, the program will give qualifying startups a “scholarship” that covers 90 percent of the costs for one year of access to HubSpot’s software as well as training and support on how to affectively use the company’s many marketing and business intelligence tools. In Year 2 of the program, HubSpot will cover 50 percent of the costs of its platform. The low end of the company’s product costs $200 per month while its “Enterprise” pricing level is $2,400 per month.
To receive a Jumpstart grant and the related services, a company must be a US-based early-stage startup that is either working with or has recently graduated from one of HubSpot’s “approved accelerator or incubator programs.” HubSpot’s Jumpstart will accept startups from 500 Startups, Y-Combinator, TechStars, MassChallenge, BetaSpring, and a few others.
Recipients of Jumpstart scholarships will be announced by the company on a quarterly basis.
“Having been involved directly and indirectly in many startups,” Shah said, “I recognize the importance of getting started with marketing early — and getting started right.”
“But, I also recognize that cash is a constraint for early-stage startups,” he added.
Shah concluded: “I’m thrilled that we’re launching Jumpstart so that we can help many more startups get off on the right foot and build their businesses.”
In the end, there are two ways of looking at the new initiative.
On one hand, HubSpot has found a new way to onboard potentially long-term and devoted customers that wouldn’t have access to its software until it reached a higher level of financial growth.
However, knowing Shah’s reputation, there is definitely some altruistic motivation behind Jumpstart to help early-stage companies with marketing, an area that can be key to startups success but is also often the last business function that a company is willing to spend money on.