Ocean Beach resident sold his last start-up for $1.4 billion; now he’s running a tech accelerator in San Diego
Jonathan Cogley, founder of D.C.-based Thycotic, has created LogicBoost Labs to invest in local start-ups.
There’s a new start-up accelerator in San Diego that’s been operating quietly through the COVID-19 pandemic, launched by a tech executive who recently achieved the entrepreneurial dream: a billion-dollar exit.
The new accelerator, called LogicBoost Labs, was founded by software executive Jonathan Cogley of Ocean Beach, the founder and longtime chief executive of Thycotic, a Washington, D.C., cybersecurity company.
When Cogley started Thycotic in 1996, it was just a consulting firm. He opened a tiny office above a sushi restaurant in D.C., taping a paper sign to the door with the word “Thycotic” scribbled on it.
That start-up evolved to a cybersecurity company that was an early player in password management for enterprise customers. Thycotic just sold to TPG Capital for $1.4 billion in March.
“I never dreamed it would be worth a billion dollars,” Cogley said. “It’s really hard to imagine.”
Cogley grew the company to about 50 employees and $10 million in annual revenue. Then in 2015, he raised money from investors to help scale up the business, handed over the leadership reins and moved to the company’s board.
Toward the end of his tenure at Thycotic, Cogley moved from D.C. to San Diego, chasing the outdoor lifestyle.
“I thought, ‘Why am I in downtown Washington, D.C., when I could be anywhere?’” Cogley said. “San Diego seemed to be the best place to go, so here I am.”
Now, Cogley lives in Ocean Beach and is running LogicBoost Labs, which he created in 2019. The accelerator invests in and helps grow software start-ups. He says it writes checks for $150,000 to $300,000, then helps the companies grow from zero revenue to something worthwhile. The goal of LogicBoost is to get its portfolio companies to $1 million in annual recurring revenue.
One thing unique about LogicBoost is it employs in-house staff members in sales, marketing, customer success and engineering. The LogicBoost employees can be used by the start-ups so they don’t have to hire any themselves.
“I quickly realized start-ups don’t just need guidance, mentoring and money,” Cogley said. “They needed the right people. The right expertise in sales, for example. This is so critical to your success. And start-ups can’t hire the right people because they’re so small and they have no revenue.”
For an accelerator, LogicBoost takes a fairly big ownership stake in its portfolio companies, asking for 20 percent with its first investment. Most accelerators take much less, with well-known ones like Y Combinator taking 7 percent with a $125,000 investment.
Brad Chisum, who founded San Diego start-up studio Launch Factory in 2019, said that when accelerators do a lot of heavy lifting in management, company creation and staffing, a higher equity stake can be warranted. When Launch Factory invests $300,000 in a start-up idea, it typically takes a full third of the ownership stake (though it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, considering Launch Factory’s business model).
“There’s not a lot of studios yet that really roll up their sleeves and get involved,” Chisum said. "[For LogicBoost’s start-ups], maybe that’s worth 20 percent?”
But some accelerators overvalue their contributions to a start-up, and each entrepreneur needs to vet whether an accelerator will be a net benefit for the company, said Mike Krenn, chief executive of San Diego start-up nonprofit Connect. Still, he said it’s nice to see a new accelerator with leadership from the East Coast.
“His network is going to be totally different than mine and a lot of other San Diego accelerators,” Krenn said.
LogicBoost invested in three companies since its launch and is accepting applications for its next cohort. Cogley said he’s looking for business-to-business, software-as-a-service companies that are pre-revenue or early revenue. Candidates can apply by June 30 at logicboostlabs.com.