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Techstars Blog

21st May 2015

[VIDEO] Where Are They Now? SendGrid & Happiness

Check out the latest “Where Are They Now?” video featuring SendGrid, a Techstars Boulder 2009 alum. SendGrid has developed a cloud based service that eliminates the complexity of sending email, saving time and money, while providing reliable delivery to the inbox.

SendGrid is now sending out as many emails per day as Twitter sends out tweets! Wow.

Learn more about their success post-Techstars, their enormous growth, their extraordinary market opportunity and why happiness is key factor to their success.

20th May 2015

The Techstars Experience: Rainbird & 100 Days of Techstars

What’s it like to go through a Techstars program? The program can change your life – but it’s not always pretty.

This is the next post in our blog series, The Techstars Experience, with some thoughts from Dom Davis, Co-Founder and CTO of Rainbird, an artificial intelligence platform that automates knowledge-work by unlocking internal expertise and amplifying that value across an organization. Dom and his co-founders completed the Techstars London 2014 Winter program.

This installment of The Techstars Experience is a bit different. Dom blogged (nearly) every day of his 100 days in program. He talks very candidly  not only about the program itself — but the lack of sleep, the food, the exhaustion, the grueling commute, and the demands on his family (his very pregnant wife and a three year old child).

Dom compiled these posts into an ebook called, “100 Days of Techstars.” He gives the blow by blow in personal diary style with a blunt voice and a British twist. It’s a good read…

Check out a few excerpts below and as Dom puts it, “Follow my descent into insanity and find out what it is to be at Techstars for 100 days.

[re: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint]

(day 9)
Mentor meetings in the morning, [extremely] long lunch with a very good friend of mine and colleague who was able to offer some very interesting advice and some possible introductions, back to the office to do a couple of hours work, out by 19:00 with the intention of going home and going pretty much straight to bed.

Didn’t quite manage that as Chris and I started talking about some issues that had been uncovered during the day and then started throwing around some ideas to fix these issues. Next thing you know the notepads are out and diagrams are being drawn. OK, so it’s not exactly high intensity work – and we did range over a number of topics while also cooking and eating dinner – but we still utterly failed in the task of go home, switch off, go to sleep.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the mentality of working every available hour and pushing yourself as hard as you can. That’s great, but you also have to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There are no prizes for being the first to collapse in a crumpled heap before the finish line is even in sight.

[re: The Techstars Clock of Doom]

(day 23)

The Techstars Clock of Doom rolled over to the 70’s today, which is just terrifying. We’re in week 4. We’ve been here 23 days and it just seems that we’re going to get catapulted out the other side of this process way too fast because in some respects it still only feels like we’ve been there a few days.

(day 89)

It’s odd. The ever present Techstars Clock of Doom which has, until now, been instilling a sense of urgency before demo day is now tinged with sadness. Every second it ticks is another second closer to the end. And that sucks. Royally.

[re: Mentorship & Office Hours]

(day 31)

Techstars set up a number of what they call “Office Hours”. Basically a period of time where useful people will be in the office and you can book a quick meeting with them. One of these was with Tony Blank from context.io. I mentioned to Tony that I could do with speaking to someone who knew more about graph databases than I did. Tony pointed me at the CEO of orchestrate.io because they know about databases. The CEO introduced me to their CTO and lead technical guy, and before I know it I’ve got them coming to visit to talk to me.

In the space of a week I’ve gone from clueless to having access to a huge wealth of information on how our approach is going to work, even at scale. This kind of useful introduction, and willingness to help and provide information goes on all the time which is one of the key things that makes this programme so useful for me.

[re: Burden on the family]

(day 49)

Before going to Techstars I researched the hell out of it. One thing that is made abundantly clear is that if you have a family or partner, they are going to suffer. With that in mind I set expectations with my wife to be low. Very low. Like 5 minute video call once a day and back home every other weekend at best low. Unsurprisingly this caused an argument, but not a major one. I was the first to admit I was being horribly selfish, and the hoped for outcome benefits the entire family hugely. We both understand that.

So my heavily pregnant wife is effectively a single mum for 3 months with flying visits from me for 48 hours at a time every two weeks or so. Not insurmountable, many wives have endured that, but not exactly easy either. It seems this departure was the breaking point….

I now get to throw myself into work with no time to think about anything else. My wife has to keep the house and family together for my return. All I can say is that if your partner bears up as well as mine you’re onto a keeper there.

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, download Dom’s full ebook here.

Want to apply to Techstars? Check out our Program Schedule.

15th May 2015

8 Nuggets of Wisdom from Techstars NYC Alumni

About a month ago, the 12 companies of Techstars NYC 2015 winter class presented at Demo Day. The founders of the graduating companies recently shared their wisdom and insights with Entrepreneur.com. Check out the highlights below and read the full article here.

IMG_5768

NYC Techstars Winter 2015 Class

1. Make more connections
2. Create time for mentors
3. Concentrate on growth
4. Treat mistakes as learning opportunities
5. Take care of all logistical headaches before the program starts
6. Get moving
7. Nail down your source of caffeine
8. Plan ahead

Read more.

14th May 2015

The Techstars Experience: Remitly’s Story

What’s it like to go through a Techstars program? Why choose our accelerator program over others?

This is the fourth post in our blog series,“The Techstars Experience,” with some thoughts from Matt Oppenheimer, Co-Founder and CEO of Remitly, an easy, fast, affordable way to send money online. Matt and his co-founders, Josh Hug and Shivaas Gulati, completed the Techstars Seattle 2011 Fall program.

Here are some highlights from Matt’s post, entitled, “Techstars is a Bargain.”

[re: the network and finding co-founders]

I love the quote, ‘if you’re the smartest guy in the room, you’re in the wrong room.’ You won’t be the smartest guy in the room during Techstars. Also, if you need an intro, it feels like you’re always one degree away from anyone in the world when you’re part of the Techstars network.

“Everyone gets something slightly different out of Techstars. For me, it was the product network. Having come from the banking industry, I had no product experience or network. Even before being accepted to Techstars, the Techstars network connected me to my co-founding engineer (Shivaas Gulati) so we could apply to Techstars and we then met our co-founder and Chief Product Officer (Josh Hug) in the Techstars program. Josh was our lead mentor and, after being co-founder and CEO of Shelfari (acquired by Amazon in 2008), he was looking to start his next company. Any smart founder knows that your team, especially your co-founders, make or break a business. The fact that I met both of my co-founders via Techstars was invaluable.”

[re: on focus & credibility]

  • Focus/momentum: If you really want to grow a business, you need to focus on it 100%. Techstars is a good launch pad to make this leap, if you haven’t already.
  • Credibility: Hundreds and hundreds of applicants, 10 companies. That’s a valuable stamp of approval and startups need that stamp to break through the clutter when raising capital, recruiting, etc.

[re: integrity]

“Knowing the integrity and character of the Techstars leadership team, it was no surprise that they recently announced their “Equity Back Guarantee. Like many great brands (Costco, Nordstrom, etc), Techstars can offer this because they know how much value they’re providing founders who participate in their programs.”

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read Matt’s full post
here.

Want to apply to Techstars? Check out our Program Schedule.

13th May 2015

[VIDEO] On Unicorns, Prunes and the Rise & Fall of the Corporate Accelerator

Many corporations, when facing the risk of disruption, seek to accelerate innovation by taking cues from the startup world. In this TEDx talk, Lou Kerner, founder of the The Social Internet Fund, focuses on how and why only a small subset of corporations will succeed in this paradigm.

Video highlights:

  • Money spent does not equate to innovation.
  • Average lifespan of a company has dropped by 70% over the last 50 years.
  • M&A is not driving innovation (Clayton Christensen, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”).
  • Corporations are hiring accelerator programs (like Techstars) so they can learn to innovate like startups.

 

Learn more about our programs, including our corporate accelerators, here.

12th May 2015

[VIDEO] Where Are They Now? Featuring Kapost

Check out our newest “Where Are They Now?” video featuring Techstars Boulder 2010 alumni, Kapost. Kapost’s Marketing Content Engine provides a proven framework for planning, executing, distributing and optimizing the critical content that drives all of marketing.

Congratulations to Kapost on its announcement today of a $10.25 million funding round! Learn more about their success post-Techstars and how “intellectual honesty” helped them pivot their business model in this new video.

12th May 2015

McDonald’s, Honda R&D Americas, Inc. and Dana Holding Corporation Join as Partners in Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit

Today we’re excited to announce three new partners in Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit. McDonald’s, Honda R&D Americas, Inc., and Dana Holding Corporation will join existing partners Ford Motor Company, Magna International and Verizon Telematics to help 10 startup companies drive towards the future of mobility and transportation.

Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit, is a mentorship-driven technology accelerator that will create a Metro Detroit hub for transportation and mobility innovations in downtown Detroit. Its goal is to bring new technologies to market that address the future of movement of people, goods, and services. Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit will run for three years with a new class of 10 companies each year.

In addition to its proven accelerator model, Techstars is bringing its extensive network of mentors, founders and corporations to Detroit to help support the program. Each partner in Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit will also provide executive-level mentorship and support throughout the program and beyond.

To help make a positive impact on the community, Techstars is coordinating efforts across the Detroit entrepreneurial ecosystem. To date, over 200 mentors have signed up to support the incoming class of 10 companies. The response across southeast Michigan has been incredible, as Techstars joins in on the goal of turning Detroit into the future mobility hub of the world.

The ten companies selected for Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit, will be announced on June 4, 2015. The program kicks off June 9, 2015, and concludes with a Demo Day on September 10, 2015 at the Fillmore Theatre where each team will present to investors, industry leaders, and the community at large.

Click here to learn more about Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit.

7th May 2015

The Techstars Experience: GameWisp’s Story

What is it like to go through a Techstars program? Why choose our accelerator program over others?

This is the third post in our new blog series, “The Techstars Experience,” with some thoughts from Michael Anderson, Co-Founder and CEO of GameWisp, a platform for gaming video creators and fans to interact around great content. Michael and his co-founders, Aaron Middleton, Andrew Wynans, and Eli Hooten, completed the Techstars Chicago program in 2014.

Here are some highlights from Michael’s post, entitled, “Achievement Unlocked: How Techstars Helped GameWisp Level Up.”

[re: program impact]

Techstars was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It was also one of the most life-changing and rewarding. Why? I’ll put it simply: the entire destiny of our company (and, frankly, my life) changed over the course of a summer. We took a chance on an unexpected opportunity, were able to grind out a ton of new experience, and invested that experience into new and enhanced abilities that made us much more formidable as a business and as business people. We were able to level up our business.”

The speed of the evolution of our business changed dramatically when we were given the time to all think deeply about our market and how we could solve important problems within it. Having the space of mind to focus on the people we were trying to help with our product allowed us to iterate exponentially faster.”

[re: the people]

The most important thing about Techstars from a participant company’s perspective is the people that are a part of the program. When I look back on our time in Techstars Chicago, it was the relationships that made the crucible of Techstars not only survivable and productive, but invaluable and life-changing.”

[re: Working with Techstars]

The rest of the team they built around them was full of incredibly smart, passionate, and helpful individuals. Everyone provides tremendous value to your business. From board members like Sam Yagan, who bring invaluable advice borne out of their experience, to associates and hackstars (like Kunal, Julia, Jon, Ana, Brendon, and more) who help and guide you through the day to day craziness.

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read Michael’s entire post here.

Want to apply to Techstars? Check out our Program Schedule.

4th May 2015

Techstars at Collision Conference this Week

If you’re at Collision Conference this week in Las Vegas, check out our Managing Directors in Workshops and a Panel discussion.

We will be hosting Workshops from four Techstars Managing Directors (Nicole Glaros, Ryan Kuder, Cody Simms and Blake Yeager) who will be covering the topics outlined below and then wrapping up with an open Q&A session where you can ask them anything related to entrepreneurship, accelerators, fundraising, startups, the program and more:

Tuesday, May 5 from 10-4 in the Startup Workshop Studio in Pavilion 2.

  • 10-11 a.m.: Blake Yeager on Innovation and Cloud Startups
  • 11-12 p.m.: Ryan Kuder on Trends in Robotics Startups
  • 12-1 p.m.: Lunch
  • 1-2 p.m.: Cody Simms on Startups and Hollywood
  • 2-3 p.m.: Nicole Glaros on How to Pitch
  • 3-4 p.m.: Ask Me Anything Panel with all MDs

On Wednesday, May 6 at Noon on the Startup University Stage, be sure to catch Nicole Glaros as part of the following panel discussion:

12:05 – 12:25 p.m. The Evolution of Choosing Your Workforce

  • Vivek Ravisankar, HackerRank
  • Nicole Glaros, Techstars
  • Mikal E. Belicove, Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Amanda Kahlow, 6Sense

Learn more about Collision.

1st May 2015

Apply to the Techstars New York City 2015 Fall Program

We are delighted to open the applications for our Fall 2015 Techstars class in New York City!

The application deadline is June 28th, and the class will kick-off end of September, finishing off with Demo Day in December.

Techstars NYC Fall 2015 Recruiting Calendar

Below is the calendar of our recruiting events. We want to meet with you, tell you more about the program, and discuss how Techstars NYC can help you accelerate your business. Here is how you can connect with us:

Twitter: Hey, @techstars @alexiskold I’d love to get feedback on our business.

Live casts: Ask Techstars NYC livecast. Connect with us on Wed at 6:30PM during these dates: 4/29, 5/6, 5/13, 5/20, 5/27, 6/3, 6/10, 6/17, 6/24, and also 6/27, 6/28.

Calendar: All events are in this Google calendar.

May 1:    Applications Open

May 5-8:    Techstars NYC in Stockholm (confirmed)

May 14-15: Techstars NYC in Amsterdam (tentative)

May 20: Techstars NYC in Croatia (confirmed)

June 2: Techstars NYC in Los Angeles (tentative)

June 9: Open House (will be Live streamed)

June 28: Applications Close

 

Techstars NYC Updates

To date, we’ve done six programs in NYC and have 100 Techstars companies based in NYC. We just graduated a great group of companies, and our most technical one to date. Here are blog posts about them: Techstars Winter 2015, 7 Innovations from Techstars NYC and a Full Demo Day  Recap.

In 2014 fifty Techstars companies in NYC have collective raise over $180MM in funding. ClassPass is a Techstars graduate and one of the fastest growing Techstars companies in NYC. Here is a video ClassPass CEO, Payal Kadakia, addressing the attendees at the latest Demo Day.

Why Apply?

We have written about Top 10 Reasons to Join (or not Join) an Accelerator. In addition, here are the things that are particularly great about the Techstars NYC program:

  1. You get AMAZING mentors

You will have access to NYC founders and CEOs, top angel investors, venture capitalists, as well as amazing mentors with background in product, engineering, marketing and finance.

  1. You really grow & accelerate your business

The program is rigorous and metrics driven. We help the companies make tangible progress and help grow & accelerate their business. Our approach is based on numbers, because numbers and facts are a lot more fundable than just stories (we love stories too, but we love stories with numbers more).

  1. You get a network for life

Techstars is not just a 13 week intensive program. It is one of the largest and fastest growing networks of entrepreneurs around the world.  Once you are a Techstar, you are a Techstar for life, and you get to be part of the network that helps you go faster and accelerate your current and future businesses.

  1.  You are at the center of NYC tech scene

New York has become a great place to build a startup. We have a ton of smart business people, engineers, entrepreneurs, executives, and investors who are working together to create valuable and lasting companies in NYC. By joining our next program you put yourself at the center of it all – literally, our brand new 13,000 SQ FT space is overlooking Times Square and the Empire State Building.

We are calling on all passionate entrepreneurs with big vision and focus on execution. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to apply. We particularly look forward to seeing companies building unique, interesting technologies and companies with revenue and real traction.