Natty Zola


Boulder, CO

I grew up in a family of teachers and social workers in Boulder Colorado. I went to the University of Maryland because they had a good engineering program and a bad track team where I thought I could walk on. I took an econ class and fell in love with business, and ended up graduating with an honors degree in finance and earned nine letters competing for the university in cross country and track and field.

Through college I worked with best selling author Jim Collins on two books: Great by Choice and How the Mighty Fall. I loved learning what makes great companies tick, the key question guiding Jim's incredible career, and especially the earliest stages of a companies journey. I then went into finance where I was a leader in General Electric's exclusive Financial Management Program where I rotated around GE businesses in corporate finance, FP&A, and IR roles.

In 2008, I left that lucrative career in finance to start a company out of my parent's basement, On my journey, I taught myself how to code, built the product, raised two rounds of venture financing, went through two significant pivots, hired and fired teams, thrived, stumbled, thrived again and ultimately successfully sold the company to AOL. I get what it's like and what it takes to start and scale a company.

In 2015, I joined Techstars as Managing Director for the flagship accelerator in Boulder (which I had been a participant in 2009). In that role, I discovered that I'm maybe an even better coach than player. Since then, I've dedicated myself to helping other entrepreneurs succeed and have worked with over 200 founders directly as an investor, mentor and friend. This is where I met Ryan, when he came to my 2015 Techstars program to look at investments. We then teamed up as colleagues at Techstars which is where our Matchstick journey together began.

I honor and respect the bravery of entrepreneurs and feel privileged to help on the amazing journey of making a dream a reality. I bring love, trust and loyalty to the teams I get to work with, helping them set and hit audacious goals. Friends and founders describe me as ambitious yet humble, kind, supportive, loyal and earnest. A hard worker who’s not afraid to push and set high expectations.

Because people are the most important thing, I spend a lot of time helping the entrepreneurs I work with become the best versions of themselves, so they can do their best work at the most important times. I'm also a details guy and enjoy helping with the product, operations, UX, and analytics of a business.

I see my role as doing whatever I can to help a company get to product/market fit, set the early work cadence and culture and ultimately source and bring in the capital needed to scale.

I'm deeply committed to the startup ecosystems between the coasts, especially Colorado. I'm from Boulder, and was supported on my entrepreneurial journey by so many people in these communities (big thanks to the Techstars and Foundry leaders and all the mentors and founders I've been lucky to learn from). I believe it's my mission to continue helping it grow these ecosystems into the best places to start a company.

When I’m not working, you can find me enjoying time outdoors. Living in Colorado, it feels so easy to do! My wife Pam and I stay busy teaching our young boys to bike and ski, going for a hike or bike commuting all over town.


  • Senior Research Associate with Jim Collins
  • Top performer in General Electric's Financial Management Program
  • Founder of, sold to AOL in 2012
  • Managing Director for six Techstars Boulder accelerator programs
  • Investor in 100+ companies
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