Techstars Boulder director talks joining VC

BOULDER — Natty Zola is taking on a second job.

The director of Techstar’s Boulder accelerator has joined Matchstick Ventures as a general partner.

Despite joining the VC firm in July with his partner, Minnesota-based Ryan Broshar, Zola said he won’t stop running the Boulder accelerator program. Rather, he plans to have both jobs build off each other.

“We invest in startups in the North region and Rockies regions,” Zola told BizWest, adding that Minnesota and Colorado are both targets for investment. “And we will do some other investing across the Techstars network. We want more capital in this ecosystem, investing in early stage startups.”

Zola said the goal is to bring more early stage capital into a region that can be scarce on investment opportunities.

“This ecosystem is growing so fast, there are so many companies moving here and so much stuff happening, we want to bring more capital to the region,” he said.

Matchstick’s first fund, Matchstick Ventures I, is funded with $5 million. There are potential plans to raise a second, larger fund in the future.

Rather than select between the two, Zola has decided to keep his job at Techstars while stepping into the financing space, due to natural overlap between the roles.

“I spend 80 percent of my time outside of the Techstars program meeting entrepreneurs, going to events and mentoring companies,” he said. “Through that process I’ve met companies that are a good fit for Techstars and Matchstick. That’s what I’ll keep doing.”

When the Techstars program is running, Zola said most of his focus will be on the Techstars class while his partner maintains focus on Matchstick.

“It’s all the same work, but now I have more tools to support entrepreneurs,” Zola said.