Thayer Hirsh is the founder of Knome, a tech startup in Frisco, Colorado.

Meet Thayer Hirsh of Knome – Founder Coopetition Winner

Thayer Hirsh, founder of Knome in Frisco, is one of three startups awarded a $5K grant from Startup Colorado’s Founder Coopetition. 

A few months ago, Startup Colorado relaunched the Founder Coopetition, a 4-week accelerator program that helped 12 founders and co-founders advance their businesses. Upon completion of the program, three participating companies were awarded a $5,000 grant based on their progress, deliverables, and final pitch. Thayer Hirsh, founder of Knome first participated in the Founder Coopetition’s pilot program in 2021. Now in 2023, he is one of the three winners to receive a grant.

Knome is an AI powered, app-based instruction manual built to address homeowners needs. The platform offers real-time resources, such as smart maintenance reminders, virtual contractor consultations and crowd sourced vendors to save users time and money with their home maintenance. We spoke with Hirsch to learn more about Knome and his experience participating in the Founder Coopetition.

Startup Colorado: What is the inspiration behind Knome? 

Thayer Hirsh: Knome came to fruition as a result of my personal frustrations with the challenges of homeownership. In my first home, I came across a number of irritating and expensive maintenance issues, including a flooded basement and a furnace that refused to work on Christmas Eve. It became apparent to me that these problems could have been prevented with the right guidance. I wondered why there wasn’t an instruction manual for homes, like I have for my car. Motivated by this realization, I started Knome to develop an AI-powered advisor to assist every homeowner. Our mission is to empower homeowners with the knowledge and support they need to proactively manage and maintain their homes.

SUCO: When you started the Founder Coopetition, what were the biggest challenges facing Knome? 

TH: One of the most significant hurdles we encountered was effectively conveying our customer offering and value proposition in a concise manner. While it may be tempting to delve into a lengthy PowerPoint presentation, it proved to be quite challenging to convey our business and future vision in simple layman’s terms, within a minute. Through the Coopetition, we iteratively worked towards achieving clarity and brevity with our pitch and customer offering. 

SUCO: Throughout the four-week program, you were tasked with various exercises and deliverables. How did these help you address your challenges? 

TH: One aspect that resonated with me about this program was its immediate focus on conducting a pitch. Even though I had previously pitched Knome numerous times, there is always room for improvement. The program provided abundant opportunities for both peer and expert feedback, facilitated by our instructor. Within the span of a week, we would submit our pitch, receive feedback by mid-week, and by Friday, we were already working on creating and recording an enhanced version. This accelerated timeline fostered a sense of urgency and allowed us to continuously refine our pitches in a quick and efficient manner.

SUCO: The Founder Coopetition mixes the ideas of “collaboration” with “competition.” How did this format inform the way you approach developing your business? 

TH: Entrepreneurs are inherently competitive, but luckily they are also a cooperative bunch and we want to see each other be successful. One aspect of the program that helped Knome was embracing the concept of rapid iterative development. We incorporated this idea from the program format into our product and customer development processes. This approach allowed us to swiftly iterate and refine our offerings based on quick feedback, ensuring that we were consistently meeting the needs of our customers.

SUCO: There are a lot of people who wouldn’t expect to see a tech business launching in a rural community. How has your experience of launching Knome in Frisco challenged that notion? 

TH: The Founder Coopetition program and grant offer an incredible opportunity to shine a spotlight on growing entrepreneurship in Summit County and other Rural Colorado communities. One might think that there isn’t access to many resources being in Rural Colorado, but entrepreneurial programs like this and others in Chaffee Country and Telluride, are challenging those notions and demonstrating that not only can you launch a rural tech company, but there are multiple systems in place to make them successful.

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