The Program

TechStars Blog

25th July 2012

7 Lessons from TechStars Patriot Boot Camp

Below is a guest post by Tak Lo. Lo is a Chief Sweeper Officer of The Travelst, an online solution that helps travelers collect inspirations and effortlessly plan their trips. 

1. Leadership starts at the top

We learned this in the military, and no where is it more obvious that David Cohen’s presence at TechStars. Hands-down the most generous person I’ve met, he is immensely humble and genuine in his passion for startups and supporting us veterans.

We veterans need to honor his contributions to this camp, so we need to support other entrepreneurs and pay it forward.

2. One idea can change and inspire an entire community

Taylor McLemore, architect of Patriot Boot Camp and founder of Prediculous, had a simple idea that he wanted to motivate veterans to become startup entrepreneurs. He also had a family history of service members, and this was his way to honor their service by paying it forward.

Well Taylor, your single-minded determination to help us is greatly appreciated by all of us. More than that, we won’t ever forget your honor, commitment, and dedication. Whenever you want to call on one of us veterans, trust me we will be there for you.

3. TechStars is hands-down one of the most generous tech communities

Over 60 mentors donating their time on Thursday, some flying for far-flung Los Angeles, to show us the ropes of entrepreneurship and taking our businesses to the next level. This network shows why TechStars is truly the #1 startup accelerator in the world.

When asked why they donated their time to help us, they replied that they wanted to thank us for our service. No mentors, thank you. You’ve given us hope that we take the future in our own hands, build companies, and inspire the next generation of vetenpreneurs.

4. Geeks can change the world

Todd Park, CTO of the White House, has the stand-up personality of Ken Jeong and the gravitas of General Petraeus in the technology community. From phrases like “build awesomeness” and “jiu-jitsu the data”, it’s hard not to be inspired by Todd’s energy. Definitely one of my top memories.

5. Military guys are built to build startups

General Casey said that we were trained to be disciplined, motivated, and able to take risks. He challenged us to “dare great things”. I love this comment – like the SAS motto, I truly believe that “Who Dares Wins”. Lastly, he told us not to under-sell ourselves and experiences.

The veterans at LivingSocial echoed the same thoughts. They reiterated that it was the ability to serve the mission, work as a team, and forget their own egos that made them successful as vetrepreneurs.

We are built to do this. Define the objective, improvise, adapt, and overcome. Rinse and repeat.

6. There is no I in team

The Travelst got to TechStars Patriot Boot Camp and had this awesome opportunity because of our team and supporters. There’s no way we would have done this ourselves.

First off, thanks to my wife Mei Kwin. She supports my vision and is incredibly positive every step of the way. There’s no way I would have done all this without her by my side.

Thanks again London Business School Dean Likierman, Rajesh Chandy, Gary Dushnitsky, Nina Bohn, Jon Conradi, Jurek Sikorski, Ivan Shyr, Rosemary Forsyth, Sean Phelan, Vinay Gupta, John Vermilye, Chris Havemann, Farhan Lalji, Natasja Giezen, Jack Huang, Eze Vidra, Haroon Khan, Jay Patel, Beng-Fai Mok, Ravi Sinha, Ulpian Morina, and Ifko Daylev

7. Patriot Boot Camp is finished – so get over it

The entrepreneurship road is long and hard. There’s no easy way out. It’s like BUDS – “the only easy day was yesterday.”

I’m under no illusions that Patriot Boot Camp will solve everything. The mentor network is great and the learnings have been fantastic. But that won’t get us diddly squat if we don’t outwork, outhustle, and outthink. There’s no excuses – it comes down to us as individuals.

My whole life has been trained to get me to this point – a life-changing experience in the US Army, business experience in consulting and investment banking, and a great MBA from London Business School.

So as the Army Rangers creed says:

“I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.”

Replace Ranger with entrepreneur, country with company, and other soldier with others, and the same principle applies.

It’s time to shut up and get shit done. Let’s roll.


TechStars is deeply grateful to our event sponsors for Patriot Boot Camp: Kauffman, the Foundation of Entrepreneurship, Kauffman FastTrac, Silicon Valley Bank, SoftLayer, and Prediculous. Thank you to Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business for hosting us and Syracruse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families for endorsing our efforts. A huge thanks to Taylor McLemore for organizing the event.