Five Questions for Matt West - 1440

Publishing Tech Accelerator Head, Matt West, Discusses 1440


Matt West is the program lead for the 1440 accelerator Program, a publishing-tech focused accelerator run from the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.

What is 1440?  What do you do?
The 1440 Accelerator is a 14-week program designed for early-stage tech startups innovating in book publishing. It's run by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and sponsored by Ingram Content Group, the largest distributor of book content in the world.

Ideal for the program are companies thinking about new platforms, tools, and services to help publishers, retailers, distributors, and libraries--basically, anyone in the book publishing industry. The 1440 Cohort will improve the way books are produced and discovered, and in doing so, better connect readers with the books they will read and love.

My role is to be the Industry Lead for the program. As a publishing veteran, it's my job to build an industry-specific publishing curriculum that connects these companies with the publishing community and exposes these tech startups to book-world knowledge.

What is a milestone you celebrated at 1440 recently?
This is the first year of 1440, so every week brings a new milestone. The 1440 Cohort did recently build first drafts of the financial models for their companies, after several weeks of customer development and business model validation.

Equipping these companies with templates for these financial models, and then pairing them with finance experts to validate those projections, are one of the many value-adds of the program and a significant milestone for the Cohort.

What advice would you give to future angel investors or people considering becoming angel investors?
I know it has been repeated elsewhere, but the most powerful observation I've heard thus far is that you're investing in the team, not the concept. The team's ability to work as such, to adapt, receive direction from one another as well as outside, and to complement and support the skills of the other team members, is critical. I've seen that first-hand, the power that is in strong teams to move these companies forward, even through pivots or other shifts in focus.

What makes 1440 companies attractive to investors?
Our economy has never been more dependent on the sharing of knowledge and information, and that sharing process has never been as global in reach as it is today. Our world has never created, published, or monetized as much content as it is today, either, and there's no sign of that trend slowing.

The startups participating in 1440 empower this content creation, distribution, and monetization work to be better, faster, and more profitable than ever, and to do so in some global regions that are significantly underserved.

What can our readers look forward to in the future from the 1440 program?
The combination of Ingram's content distribution leadership and expertise, Nashville's publishing, literary, and creative community, and the EC's commitment to constantly improving program experiences, will continue to expand international interest and participation, and it could also open the way for publishing and tech leaders from outside of Nashville to want to get involved.

InCrowd Capital is an angel investment group that invests in companies going through incubator, accelerator and university programs across the Southeast. The "Five Questions For..." interview series will bring you insights from leaders in the entrepreneurial and investor ecosystems across the Southeast.  Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to receive our next interview in the series.