The Program

Techstars Blog

1st September 2015

Applications Open for the Expanded Sprint Accelerator powered by Techstars

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We are very excited to announce that applications are now open for the 2016 Sprint Mobile Accelerator powered by Techstars. The scope of the 2016 program has been expanded to include any mobile startup, which could include but not be limited to:

  • Wearables
  • Consumers apps in areas such as entertainment, lifestyle, or productivity
  • Mobile services such as advertising, commerce, or in-home/multi-screen
  • IoT / IoE
  • Data / Analytics
  • Health and wellness
  • Mobile enterprise apps

Ten startups will be selected to participate in the program which begins on February 22, 2016. The program is located at the award-winning Sprint Accelerator facility in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, MO. The selected startups will benefit from targeted workshops, experienced mentors, Sprint’s mobile resources, and the vast Techstars network. Each startup receives up to $120,000 in funding after being selected.

If your startup leverages mobile technology and you want to significantly accelerate your business, apply today: https://www.f6s.com/sprintaccelerator2016/apply

26th August 2015

Funding and M&A Across the Techstars Ecosystem

unnamedIt’s time for another funding round up! Congratulations to these Techstars companies that were recently acquired:

Also, a big shout out to these Techstars alumni companies that have recently received notable* investments!  This brings us to a total of 75 Techstars companies acquired and over $1.8B raised by our accelerator companies.

260749v1-max-250x250 Plated (NYC ’13), the NY-based company that delivers pre-portioned ingredients and recipes at your door each week, has announced the close of a $35M Series B round.
Spot_Hero SpotHero (Chicago ‘12) is aiming to simplify the process and help drivers locate parking and reserve spots around the city through the company’s web and mobile apps. SpotHero announced recently that it has raised $20M in Series B funding led by Insight Venture Partners.
occipital Occipital (Boulder ’08) raised a $13 million Series B round from Intel Capital, Shea Ventures, Grishin Robotics and previous investor Foundry Group. This new funding round brings Occipital’s total funding to $21M.
leanplum-logo-icon Leanplum (Seattle ’12), a service that helps developers and marketers engage with mobile users through personalized messages, dynamic UI optimization and A/B testing services, announced that it has raised a $11.6M Series B round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
chatid ChatID (NYC ‘11), a platform that enables chat communication between brands and consumers on the web and mobile devices, raised $11.2M in Series B funding.
logoicon-080114-final Owlet (R/GA ‘13), the Smart Sock that goes on babies and informs you if they’ve stopped breathing, has raised a $7 million A round.
cloud-ability-logo-2 Cloudability (Cloud ’12) has secured more than $6 million from investors. Cloudability offers a platform to manage cloud cost and usage analytics.
Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 3.13.17 PM Filament (R/GA ‘15) has raised $5 million to bring the blockchain to the internet of things. Filament provides standalone wireless networks that do not require any central routing service or cloud.
b95d1ca92383e523970cf0620bcfc5a8_400x400 FEM Inc. (Disney ’15) has raised $3M in seed funding to help with a video engagement platform called Prizma. FEM Inc. is a media technology company that has developed a video engagement platform offering smart syndication, analytics and more.
TradingView TradingView (Chicago ’13), a social fintech platform that unites traders and investors from around the world, received $3M in Series A funding.
self SelfLender (Austin ’15) raised $2M in seed funding. Self Lender is a fintech startup that helps you building credit history without hidden fees or high interest rates.

*notable = $2M or more.

26th August 2015

How to Become a Leader in Your Startup Community: Webinar 8/27 with David Cohen

If you are interested in helping build your local startup community, you may want to check out this webinar the Founder Institute is hosting on August 27th.

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On this “How to Become a Leader in Your Startup Community” webinar, they will outline the different resources needed to bolster your local ecosystem, and provide tips on how you can help startups and become a better startup mentor and advisor.

This event will feature David Cohen (Founder and Managing Partner of Techstars), Sergio Escobar (Managing Director of The Founder Institute Montreal), and Adeo Ressi (Founder & CEO of the Founder Institute, 9X entrepreneur, and Managing Director of Expansive Ventures).

It will take place on Thursday, August 27th at 8:00am PT (see local time here).

 RSVP to the Webinar here.

– The importance of mentorship in the startup landscape.
– How you can best help startups in your community.
– The types of programs and tools making a difference in communities across the globe.
– The steps you should take to become a leader in your startup community.

Learn more and RSVP here.

26th August 2015

Sponsorship in Action: MakersKit and American Airlines

We recently chatted with Mike Stone, cofounder of MakersKit, a Techstars alumni (NYC ‘14). MakersKit was founded to inspire creativity. The company shares its favorite ideas and offers the best tools and supplies to make DIY a blast. While MakersKit was in the Techstars program in New York City, they met and partnered with American Airlines, a global sponsor of Techstars. Under their Innovators Initiative, American Airlines has been supporting Techstars companies within all of our US-based programs with marketing opportunities, connections, travel grants since 2013.

Want to learn more about how startups can build marketing partnerships with corporations? Continue reading…

MakersKit - Sponsorship in Action

What has MakersKit been up to since going through the Techstars NYC 2014 program?

It has been a crazy year, in the very best way possible.

Before Techstars, it was just the two of us working out of my apartment. And now, a year later, we’ve created nearly fifty new jobs and our products are available in over 5,000 stores with retail partners including Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma. We’ve partnered with major brands like National Geographic, Macy’s and TOMS helping them use digital media to connect with millennials. The Techstars program helped us figure out our secret sauce, and now we’re helping brands create an experience by doing what we do best.

What is our secret sauce? We use digital media to teach new skills in an entertaining way, it’s all about the experience. We’re good at it because we’re authentic, our team is made up of makers and doers. Are we the best at what we do? I think we are, as do the brands that are working with us. Awesome brands like MakerBot, LittleBits, Raspberry Pi, and Bare Conductive are made more mainstream and accessible by partnering with us.

How did MakersKit discover—and choose to develop a partnership with—American Airlines?

American Airlines was one of the many sponsors of our Techstars program in NYC, but to us they stood out by being the most helpful. Through their Business Extra program, we received travel grants and benefits because of their partnership with Techstars. We travel, a lot. The three month program was right in the middle of our national book tour in partnership with Macy’s, and every flight we took was with American. The Business Extra program has great perks and the Admirals Club lounges don’t hurt either. Complimentary cocktails? Yes, please

MakersKit was featured in American Airlines’ American Way in-flight magazine. How did that happen? And what were the results of that feature?

Any press is good press, but being featured in American Way is great press. They feature one up and coming startup every month in their “Innovators” article. We honestly didn’t know what to expect to come out of the article at first, but then the calls started to come in, “I read about you while on a flight to…” which would lead to “how many containers can you ship”… not digital containers, but freight containers you can fit a couple houses into.

Oh, and it also caught the attention of Home Depot, who happens to have over 2,000 stores.

MakersKit team - sponsorship in actionWhat is the latest at MakersKit?

We’re publishing our second book, opening up pop-up stores in LA, Austin, NYC, Chicago and Seattle, launching NatGeo by MakersKit, and partnered up with TOMS #TOMSxMakersKit. We also won first place Content Technology Company at Las Vegas at SXSW V2V.

Do you have any advice for other founders who want to leverage corporations for marketing and business development opportunities?

Do it. Seriously.

Partnerships and deals with major companies give us a step up over our competitors. Find out what you do better than anyone else, and leverage that to get you things that even money can’t buy. Find brands that align with your mission or customer base, it basically has to make sense for both of you. NatGeo is ranked #1 among social publishers so why would they ever partner with a startup like us? Long story short, there’s something we do better than any other company, too. MakersKit has the largest US and Canadian retail distribution in our industry, something every brand would love to leverage by partnering with us.

 

You can follow @MakersKit and @AmericanAir on Twitter.

20th August 2015

Bleeding Green Stars: Announcing the New Managing Director for Austin

My formal introduction to Techstars was in early 2013 shortly after Jason Seats moved to Austin to start the program here.  Upon meeting Jason, two things quickly became apparent to me — first, that Techstars was going to be an amazing addition to the Austin startup community and second, that I wanted to become part of it! Jason asked me to be a mentor and I also become an LP in the first fund.  From the very first program in 2013, I was hooked! At the outset, I expected that I might spend a little time with a company or two but over the next two years, I found myself increasingly involved – and in this last program, I spent time with about half the companies.

Many things impress me about Techstars. First of all, from top to bottom it is a very high caliber group of people. Every single person I’ve met, with no exception, is smart, articulate, passionate, experienced and clearly bleed green stars.  This isn’t only the Techstars staff, but also the mentors and companies as well.  It’s very clear that Techstars attracts the best people around.

When Jason announced earlier this year that he would be moving over to the Techstars Ventures Fund and looking for a replacement, everyone wondered how they would ever fill his shoes.  Then one day over coffee, Jason and I discussed the possibility of me taking over the Managing Director role for Austin.  I left that meeting both excited and flattered.  Over the next few days as I thought about becoming the new Managing Director, I realized that it is the role I have been working towards for many years…

Over my 20 year career, I’ve been a part of six early stage companies, three of those as either founder or cofounder. I have been the fortunate recipient of some incredible mentoring and am extremely passionate about helping startups succeed. My new role with Techstars as Managing Director of the Austin program allows me to bring these learnings to the table to lead the next Austin class to success. I am so thrilled to get started and look forward to contributing as much as possible to the growth of the Austin startup community.

I’m excited to announce the next Techstars program in Austin begins in February 2016 with applications opening in September.  I can’t wait to start recruiting more great companies to Techstars and Austin!

12th August 2015

[VIDEO] Mentor Spotlight: Julia Austin

Today’s mentor spotlight is on Julia Austin! Julia is an entrepreneur herself and an advisor and investor of early stage startups. Right now, she is advising a bunch of early stage companies in the Boston area and stewing on the next big thing. Julia has been a Techstars Mentor since January 2014 as well as an investor in several Techstars companies.

Check out this one-minute spotlight video to learn what being a Techstars Mentor means to Julia!

11th August 2015

Guest Post: Techstars’ Basic Training for Veteran Entrepreneurs

I spent the last weekend in July at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill at Patriot Boot Camp (PBC), a Techstars backed summit for service members and veterans interested in learning how to launch and build technology Startups.

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As a transitioning Army officer interested in entrepreneurship and tech, PBC was just what I needed.  From the Pledge of Allegiance Friday morning to Retired Army General George Casey’s keynote address Sunday morning, this three day “Boot Camp” was a high octane crash course in the fundamentals of starting Startups.

Throughout the weekend, Techstars presented us with extended access to experts across the Startup community.  For me, the highlights stemmed from the organizers’ ability to smoothly package and deliver three things that those who have served are well familiar with: training, coaching, and mentoring.

  1. Relevant Training.  

Just like military leaders must know doctrine to plan operations and accomplish their missions, entrepreneurs must also master the fundamentals of building sound businesses that can grow and scale.  Patriot Boot Camp was committed to education from the outset.  Weeks ahead of the conference, participants received an extensive reading list from which to prepare.  Each day at the event, CEOs, founders, investors, and mentors led classes and seminars.  The material was vast in terms of depth and breadth.

PBC-2015-Tommy-CEO-of-SoloPro-Small

  1.  Expert Individual and Collective Coaching.  

The quality of the cohort of advisors in attendance was stellar, and coaching entrepreneurs was a key focus of the event.  In the first 48 hours I received coaching on how to outline a business idea, conduct customer discovery, pitch to investors, raise funding, build a team, split-test, and grow.  Attendees who came to the conference with an idea left with a gameplan for execution.

  1.  Unparalleled Mentoring.

But for me, the highlight of PBC — and what makes this conference so special — is the emphasis on mentorship.  Dave Cass, CEO of Uvize (a mentorship platform), told all of us early and often to take advantage of the mentors who had traveled from all over the world (Bay Area to London) to help veterans and spouses.  The 50+ mentors included a blend of investors, founders, and educators, and hailed from the likes of Techstars, UNC, Google, and Facebook.

Each afternoon — in what from a distance could be mistaken for speed dating — PBC veterans sat down with mentors for one on one conversations about their products, their ideas, their businesses, and their transitions from the military to the Startup space.  These high impact sessions were half an hour each, but each mentor that I met with in these sessions (10 in total), without exception, has already followed-up and promised to keep in touch.  The sincerity, authenticity, and “give first” mentality of the mentors at PBC was unbelievable, and difficult to imagine in or out of the military.

Onward to Motor City.

PBC and Techstars ascribe to a simple mantra: Give First. Their values — education, community, and mentorship — were clearly communicated and reiterated throughout the conference.  At the conference selfless service and energy are palpable and ubiquitous.

Through outstanding training, committed coaching, and deliberate mentoring through a relentlessly focused agenda, Patriot Boot Camp delivered.

Just like new Soldiers must go to Basic Training to learn to shoot, move, and communicate, entrepreneurs must master the basics.  To that end, Techstars has succeeded in building a Boot Camp capable of providing outstanding training and mentorship in a brief period of time.
Our country needs more Vets in the technology Startup space.  Thankfully, Techstars has succeeded in creating a conference in true Startup fashion that is scalable and repeatable, and will be running more boot camps in the months and years to come.

Check out the full post on the Patriot Boot Camp Blog.

Tyler Matthews is an Army Captain and Chief of Staff of SoloPro. He attended Patriot Boot Camp in July, 2015 at the University of North Carolina.

Tyler is an active duty Army captain. Everything here is his own opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of his unit or the U.S. Army.

 

 

6th August 2015

Guest Post: From a Community Perspective – View on Techstars Acquisition of UP Global

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Guest post By Kathleen Fritzsche

Kathleen attended her first Startup Weekend in 2010 and has been co-organizing and facilitating several events since then. She co-founded StartUp Stuttgart in 2011, the main startup community in Southwest Germany, and Accelerate Stuttgart in 2012. Accelerate Stuttgart is building an accelerator program for startups in Stuttgart and the region. @Kathl_Fritzsche

After the announcement of the UP Global acquisition by Techstars I was asked to write about it from a community perspective.  Eventually, it took me four weeks to come up with this post as it wasn’t easy to put all my thoughts into one text.


I recently had the chance to spend a few days with a bunch of amazing Startup Weekend facilitators and very good friends in Norway. It was like a big family reunion, old friends coming together with the certainty that all of us share a common story and vision.

I feel a special bond with these people, it’s my tribe. We are united by our vision to change the world through education and entrepreneurship and to help our local communities to grow and thrive. It feels very special to me to be part of this global movement of highly motivated entrepreneurs who want to give back to their communities.

We often have a similar story how we got involved with Startup Weekend in the first place. We attended our first event by chance, maybe because one of our friends told us to definitely attend this unusual event. We often had unsatisfying professional careers at that point and our first Startup Weekend was a complete game changer for our life plans. For my part, I turned away from a boring and safe corporate career to get involved with startups and to co-found a startup community initiative that later led to the creation of my current company.

Nevertheless, over the years I’ve also struggled with the organization behind the movement. I went through a few periods of doubt if this is the path I want to follow, volunteering for a global initiative with some serious problems on the organizational level. However, throughout my own struggles in life and business, I’ve always come back to Startup Weekend (or UP Global for a while) to find purpose and strength to continue what I truly love and believe in: inspiring other people and showing them opportunities beyond their predetermined career and outside their (and my) comfort zone.

At the time of the announcement of the acquisition, our Startup Weekend organizer and facilitator community went through big discussions, especially concerning the volunteering part for a now for-profit company. Many volunteers doubted and doubt their future commitment and involvement with the movement. I was honoured to be involved in part of the process leading up to the announcement, so I might be a bit biased. Nevertheless, I believe that it is a big opportunity for the whole community! Two tribes are joining forces with a common vision to change people’s lives through entrepreneurship. Techstars’ and Startup Weekend’s history are tied together from the beginnings. It all began with one event in Boulder in 2007, now we are at more than 7000 events in over 120 countries. It is a powerful movement with such a huge global impact over the years. I truly hope that Techstars will continue to follow the path Startup Weekend and UP Global paved!

I genuinely believe in the power of this tribe, my tribe! I always felt I was different – thank you to the Startup Weekend and UP Global family for giving me a home and connecting me to the crazy ones!

4th August 2015

Announcing Our Diversity Commitment as Part of White House Demo Day

Today we are excited to announce our Diversity Commitment as part of White House Demo Day.

The topic of diversity (or lack thereof) is a hot one in our industry. We know the numbers are not good across the board and we all need to step up to make them better. Techstars wants to improve opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities throughout our global ecosystem and open the door to entrepreneurs everywhere.  We know that these founders not only bring a diverse perspective and a wealth of innovative ideas — but according to recent research — companies with female founders often outperform their male peers.

To advance inclusive entrepreneurship, Techstars commits to:

  • Double the number of women in our accelerator program applicant pool and across our mentor network over four years.
  • Track participation in our programs by underrepresented minorities and double that from the baseline over the same time period.
  • Publish our diversity data annually.
  • Train staff on ‘unconscious bias’ and ensure that every selection committee includes at least two women so that female founders are represented in the selection process.

Through our continued partnership with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), Techstars will set aggressive goals for internal change as a key player in NCWIT’s national entrepreneurship strategy. We will offer access, membership, and resources to the 600+ companies in our portfolio and to the 200 companies we add annually. Additionally, we will offer mentorship opportunities between our Managing Directors and our extensive network of founders to the technical women in the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community.

We are proud of our partnership with NCWIT and look forward to doing great things together. We are also excited to expand on the work done by our Rising Stars program to open the door for female and minority founders everywhere.

To learn more about the Techstars partnership with the Obama administration to advance inclusive entrepreneurship, check out the White House Fact Sheet. I’ll be there today to represent Techstars as part of the announcement.

If you’d like to learn more, the White House will be tweeting live from the event today at 3:45 p.m. ET from the @WhiteHouse and @WhiteHouseOSTP handles using the hashtag #WHDemoDay.

The event will also be live streamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

We are excited to be a part of it!

3rd August 2015

Techstars and Chase Power Startup Week to Celebrate Entrepreneurs

Today Techstars is excited to announce the continuation of a partnership with Chase to present Startup Week Powered by Chase, a community-led celebration of entrepreneurs.

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Now in its second year, this national sponsorship grew out of Chase’s title role in Denver Startup Week, the largest free entrepreneur event in North America. Startup Week brings entrepreneurs, local leaders, and friends together over five days of free programming, speakers, education and networking to build momentum and opportunity around a community’s unique entrepreneurial identity.

Business owners Mark Frommeyer & Joe DeLoss, along with Jeff Lyttle, Sr. Vice President, Media & Community Engagement at Chase, speak on a panel at Columbus Startup Week about their entrepreneurial journey and what it takes to build a successful business.

Starting in October in Seattle and continuing into spring of 2016, the following cities will host a Startup Week, created by local community leaders with support from Techstars and Chase:

  • Seattle – Oct. 26-30, 2015
  • Tampa Bay – Feb. 8-12, 2016
  • Phoenix – Feb. 22-26, 2016
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth – April 12-16, 2016
  • Columbus, Ohio – May 2-6, 2016
  • Detroit – New for 2016! Date TBD

With this ongoing support from Chase, Startup Week will continue to build upon the efforts already made by our local organizers to grow their entrepreneurial ecosystems and deepen the connections made in their communities. We are especially excited to take Startup Week to Detroit, where Techstars and JPMorgan Chase both have deep commitments. These communities are the lifeblood of future economic growth and development, and the sponsorship from Chase is vital to the long-term positive impact entrepreneurial ecosystems are having on the world.

Nicholas Karnaze, founder & CEO of Stubble & ‘Stache, leads a fireside chat at Tampa Bay Startup Week.

On a related note, Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., will speak today at CU Boulder on the topic of innovation and its critical importance to a thriving entrepreneurial environment. Jamie will be joined by Brad Feld, co-founder of Techstars, Managing Director of Foundry Group, and author of Startup Communities. The discussion will focus on Jamie’s perspectives on building entrepreneurial communities and how entrepreneurial approaches translate in different contexts.

Techstars is proud to partner with Chase to bring together entrepreneurs and local leaders to build startup communities around the world!  Visit us at www.startupweek.co.