John Barnett and Daniel Dye, the dynamic duo behind Supermoon, an AI-powered customer service software, serendipitously crossed paths with Spencer Tate and Nemath Ahmed during NEXT’s inaugural Greenville-hosted Investor Match Day at the NEXT Venture Summit. This encounter might seem coincidental, but the carefully orchestrated event aimed to pair 24 local and external investors with 47 ventures in a speed dating format. NEXT diligently curated connections based on industry, phase, and other criteria. The unexpected meeting of dotflo with local angels Daniel Dye and John Barnett, however, was not part of the planned matchups.
While the goal was to facilitate at least four investor meetings for each founder, the essence of the event extended beyond mere transactions. Attendees were encouraged to network, connect in the provided lounge, and continue discussions at the networking reception. The magic of the event lay in fostering connections in an environment where serendipity could thrive.
Barnett and Dye stood out as the only attendees wearing both hats – representing their latest venture, Supermoon, while exploring potential investments as well. With a track record of building and exiting multiple ventures, including the notable Chroma Labs acquired by Twitter (Barnett was a founder and Dye an investor), they brought a wealth of experience to the table. Both have also invested locally, with Barnett investing in Pixlmob and Dye backing Vicinity, both graduates of the NEXT Accelerator cohort 1.
In a unique twist, John Barnett, playing the dual role of founder and angel investor, had a break in his Match Day schedule. Seizing the opportunity, Tate and Ahmed approached him for a spontaneous pitch, a decision that proved pivotal as it led to investments from both Barnett and Dye into dotflo.
When discussing what impressed them about Ahmed and Tate, the Supermoon founders’ answers were unexpected. While acknowledging that the dotflo pitch could use some polishing, they emphasized being most impressed by the two young founders themselves. Tate, a business administration and economics major at Furman University set to graduate in 2024, and Ahmed, a Georgia Tech grad student, had already experienced the highs and lows of launching and failing businesses while still in school.
For Barnett and Dye, the investment wasn’t just about the idea but about the founders – their drive, hunger, and resilience. Reflecting on their own early days, Barnett noted the duo’s lack of jadedness and their relentless pursuit of building and acquiring customers. They saw potential in dotflo’s founders and believed their investment could go further with this dynamic team than with more mature ventures.
According to Barnett, “They reminded me of the early days; starting things in school. You don’t know what you don’t know so you just plow forward. They’re not jaded; they’re just going and building and trying to get customers. I would hire them. There is a hunger and scrappiness; they’re not comfortable resting yet.”
So far, the Supermoon founders are pleased with their investment, noting dotflo’s exceptional communication, engagement, and eagerness to learn. Dye, who looks for that inner hunger and drive when hiring for his team, found the tenacity of dotflo’s founders appealing, especially at a life stage when most are still playing and exploring.
As co-founder of Supermoon, an AI-driven company, Dye was drawn to investing in another startup in the AI space. Beyond just the idea, he invests in people: “They’re doing the work instead of being college knuckleheads. I was attracted to that tenacity at a life stage when most people are playing. I have to like the idea but I invest in people. Early pre-seed investing, you are investing in the founder.”
Dotflo, an AI-based software specializing in helping businesses research potential customers, is expanding its focus under the guidance of Dye. He has actively contributed to sales and go-to-market strategies and found the app valuable for prospecting research in his own sales endeavors.
Building on the success of the 2023 Match Day, NEXT is already gearing up for the 2024 edition. Armed with lessons learned, the goal is to enhance the experience, fostering even more fruitful connections between investors and ventures. The recent serendipitous meeting of dotflo with Daniel Dye and John Barnett exemplifies the dynamic nature of such gatherings. Looking ahead, NEXT aims to refine its matchmaking process and event structure, aspiring to surpass the success of the previous year. While the conclusion of the 2023 Match Day story is yet unknown, ongoing conversations hint at the potential for additional investments resulting from the event. This anticipation fuels NEXT’s commitment to orchestrating events that catalyze connections and contribute to the growth of the entrepreneurial community.