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Techstars Blog

22nd January 2015

Where Are They Now – New Videos

Towards the end of last year we started a new series of short videos on Techstars companies, Where Are They Now?  We profile some interesting companies, highlighting where they began, what they’re doing today, and some tips on how they got there.  Some Techstars companies we’ve already featured include SendGrid, DigitalOcean, ContentlyRapt MediaNestioSketchfabPlatedOccipital, Romotive, and more. As of today, 61 companies have been acquired across the Techstars portfolio and 78% are still active.  There are a ton of stories to be told and a lot to learn.

Interested in applying, check out the schedule and apply!

Where Are They Now? Trailer #2

GoSpotCheck “Starting over with a new idea”
Streamline your field teams, surveys, audits and reports with GoSpotCheck‘s Mobile Data Collection Software.

ROXIMITY “Growing a team”
ROXIMITY is a location based advertising platform that enables retailers and brands to send targeted, contextual messaging to nearby customers.
Begin your next iBeacon project with Roximity.

22nd January 2015

12 Companies for Winter 2015 Session in NYC

We are very pleased to announce the new Techstars class here in NYC. This will be our 6th session in the city, and my second as the Managing Director. The winter session started this week, and will end with the demo day on April 17th.

We had 60% increase in applications for NYC program this year compared to 2014, and the acceptance rate was 0.8%. The companies that got selected are innovating across wide range of spaces including virtual reality space, electronics prototyping, developers tools, mobile, localization, e-commerce, content and more.

This year, for the first time, we had Techstars alumni participate in interviewing the candidates. We want to take this opportunity to thank 60 Techstars NYC alumni companies and 300 mentors for their ongoing and generous support. We look forward to an amazing session this Winter. Here are the companies:

 

BentoBox provides mobile-optimized websites and digital marketing tools for restaurants.
Cartesian Co enables rapid electronics prototyping with our desktop 3D printer for circuit boards.
DataCamp is an online data science school that uses video lessons and interactive coding challenges.
Goods of Record is an online marketplace for artisan men’s goods, made only in America.
irisVR builds software to share, edit, and visualize 3D models in virtual reality.
Keymetrics is a software-as-a-service monitoring solution for Node.js.
Localize helps translate your website with one line of code.
LSQ is a rapid software development platform for Node.js.
Pilot is a new kind of internet provider, delivering ultra-fast fiber optic internet to businesses with no contracts and a 100% uptime guarantee.
Spoon University is a food network for the next generation where all the content is produced by college students.
Stream is a web service for building scalable newsfeeds and activity streams in hours instead of weeks.
Unique Sound is a marketplace that helps brands, ad agencies, and video producers to get original and affordable music directly from composers.

20th January 2015

Techstars’ 2014 Year in Review

As I reflect back on 2014 at Techstars, it was a really good year. Here are some highlights:

  • Techstars portfolio companies received $534M in venture capital in 2014, bringing the total to well over $1B and their market cap to over $2.5B.
  • 513 companies in the portfolio, up from 341.
  • 59 exits across the system, in the past year this included:

Highlighter, Glider, Wander, Vizify, DocTracker, Pickie, Appetas, Laveem, Graphicly, Shelby.tv, Mocavo, Senexx, MobileDevHQ, Poptip, UberSense, OnSwipe, GrabCAD, MarketVibe, Smart Toy (fka Ubooly), SocialCrunch, Revolv, Qunb, Spill, Captimo and Vidmaker.

  • The aggregate value of our entire portfolio including our venture funds is now over $44B!
  • Overall, it was a year of expansion, with 5 new programs added over the course of the the year (Disney, Cloud, Qualcomm, Berlin, Detroit). This brings our total to 15 programs, 8 horizontal and 7 vertical.
  • We increased the number of employees from 41 to 55, including 18 dedicated investment professionals.

Our strong foundation positions us well for 2015. We believe that in this year, entrepreneurship will continue to grow around the world as more and more ecosystems are created to support startup endeavors, and more and more corporations turn to startups to help bring innovation into the corporation and to bring new technologies to market. We feel that we are well positioned to be at the center of these trends.

We will continue to expand our services to our founders in 2015 and find ways to serve even more entrepreneurs as we continue to expand. It’s going to be a great ride.

13th January 2015

Announcing Techstars Cloud Class of 2015

I am pleased to announce the new class of companies participating in the Techstars Cloud 2015 program in San Antonio, Texas. We have a group of amazing founders from all over the world, including entrepreneurs from the United States, Mexico, India, Israel, and Poland. The class is very well rounded and includes ten companies working on a variety of very technical and innovative businesses.

The companies from the first two Techstars Cloud programs have been making amazing progress and I am excited to see this new group of companies join the ranks of Techstars Cloud alumni. I look forward to working with the founders as we embark on this amazing journey together.

Appbase is building a real time events based database with full-text search and collaborative features via an easy to use API. With Appbase, building a real time production app takes only a few hours. 
Bitfusion accelerates research and applications for scientists through optimized hardware acceleration.
Card Isle distributes greeting cards through touch screen printer-based kiosks, utilizing local and independent artists as well as personalized text.
Callinize integrates your existing phone system and your CRM. It’s a hosted solution which takes just minutes to setup and works with the systems you already use.
Elasticode provides an online platform that enables real time deployment and unique personalization, optimizing end user mobile experiences.
Fantasmo Studios is creating the Disney of the 21st century by developing family-friendly, IP driven entertainment properties with a focus on mobile phones and new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality.
Knowtify is Mailchimp for the personalized emails you send from your app. It saves app builders from having to code and maintain their own email systems allowing them to drive better user engagement, retention and growth.
Nebulab’s web app centralizes data storage, organization, and collaboration for researchers in manageable steps. Researchers can easily import data from multiple sources, drag and drop data into a project-based organization system, then share their data with peers.
Stabilitas addresses the safety and security concerns of international travelers with location-specific safety information, and a lifeline to help, all through a traveler’s smartphone.
VirtKick is a free and open source platform that easily hosts virtual servers to improve VPS business with one click installation. The functional, streamlined interface provides users with a feature packed marketplace and freedom from cloud providers.

9th January 2015

Congrats to Techstars founders named to Forbes’ 30 under 30!

Congratulations to the Techstars founders named to Forbes’ 30 under 30! Check out the full Forbes list here.

Healthcare

Jason Bornhorst – Patient IO

TJ Parker – PillPack

Jay Kaplan – Synack

Consumer Tech

Michael Kasparian, Peter Li – Atlas

Yifan Zhang – Pact

Enterprise Tech

Max Lynch – Drifty

Jilliene Helman – Realty Mogul

Games

Dave Bisceglia – The Tap Lab

Jonas Piela – Avuba

Sports

Arian Radmand – CoachUp

Marketing & Advertising

Tom Coburn, Jonathon Lacoste – Jebbit

Manufacturing & Industry

Blake Sessions, Arron Acosta – Rise Robotics

Gabe Blanchet, Jamie Byron – Grove Labs

Dylan Reid – Matter.io

7th January 2015

Announcing Techstars Berlin

Today Techstars is announcing a new program in Berlin that will kick off in Summer 2015 and I’m excited to officially come on board as the Managing Director.

Applications open today, with a program start date in June and Demo Day in September. The program will run like other Techstars city programs in Austin, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Cloud (San Antonio), London, New York City, and Seattle.

My full profile can be found here but I have been mentoring at Techstars (and its London precursor program Springboard) for many years. When I told Techstars I wouldn’t be able to mentor going forward as I was moving to Germany, I was asked whether I would be interested in opening up a Berlin program. I then spent the next six months working with Techstars in London and at the same time met 50-100 Berlin based entrepreneurs and investors. What I found really excited me:

  • Over the last ten years or so, many new tech startups have sprung up in Berlin. Rocket Internet, Zalando, and Delivery Hero, each valued at $1BN+ are headquartered in Berlin. According to an analysis by Ciaran O’Leary of Earlybird, there are now a similar number of $10m+ financing rounds in Berlin as there are in London. And the year-on-year growth rate of such financings is higher in Berlin than London. There is a lot of activity here and I expect much more in the future.
  • Berlin is a city with almost no ‘old’ money. Almost all of the angel investors that are actively investing in Berlin are former Internet entrepreneurs. They have been there and done it. It makes a huge difference when compared to investors in other (German) cities. And there are a lot of them. I think there is more high quality seed capital in Berlin than there are investment opportunities of the same quality. Perfect for entrepreneurs.
  • Berlin is a fantastic place to live and work. The cost of living here is a fraction of what it is in London or New York. The quality of all public services is high. Crime is low. Berlin is a global city with an overwhelming offering of cultural activities. And best of all, everybody speaks English. You can easily live here without ever having to use a word of German.

All of the above makes it easy to attract high quality talent into Berlin and keep it here. All of this at a fraction of the cost of US/UK startup centres. And as Matt Cohler of Benchmark rightly pointed out, startups take centre stage in Berlin.

When I asked the local entrepreneurs and investors whether running a Techstars program in Berlin made sense, two things were pointed out over and over again. First, Techstars has a very strong reputation so we should be able to attract highly quality mentors and companies that will make for a successful program. Second, Techstars has a very strong network of over 3000 people in the US and UK. This is a unique asset that could add significant value to the startups going through the program.

We’ve already built a community of investors and mentors to support the Berlin program and we’re growing the network every day. Here are some sample investor mentors, with many more to be announced in the coming weeks (VC and angel investors, local entrepreneurs, and other key players in the Berlin tech community):

Brad Feld – Managing Director, Foundry Group

Pawel Chudzinski – Managing Partner, Point Nine Capital

Christian Buchenau, Partner, Paua Ventures

Suranag Chandratillake & Rob Moffat – Balderton Capital

Simon Schminke – Earlybird Ventures

David Cohen – Founder & Managing Partner, Techstars

Fabian Heilemann & Lydia Benkö – Partners, Heilemann Ventures

Philipp Hartmann & Tobias Johann – Managing Partners, Rheingau Founders

Benjamin Rohe & Ludwig Preller – Partners, MAS Angel Fund

Christoph Gerlinger – Founder & CEO, German Startups Group

If you are a startup founder and want to apply for the program, please fill in the application form here.

If you want to reach out to me to discuss Techstars Berlin, please email me at jens.lapinski@techstars.com.

PS: We are looking for a Program Manager to help me run Techstars Berlin. Details of the job can be found here.

 

5th January 2015

Applications Now Open for Boston and Boulder Summer 2015 Programs

Applications are now open for two great Techstars programs in Boston and Boulder for Summer 2015! Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in our three-month mentorship-driven accelerator program and become part of a lifetime network of over 3,000 founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners.

Techstars is for all types of tech entrepreneurs. Check out our short video to learn more.

Stay tuned to our Program Schedule and apply today. Deadline for Boston, Boulder and Techstars Mobility (already announced) is 3/15/15.

19th December 2014

The Holiday Video!

We wanted to wish you all a wonderful holiday with this video on The Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs.  Thank you to all of the Techstars companies who helped make this video!

1. Shed some pounds, release stress Sportsy
2. Take risk, grow some balls Sphero
3. Motivate people to save energy Simple Energy
4. Move out of your parent’s basement Everlater, acquired by MapQuest
5. Let your dreams soar, without them crash SkySpecs
6. Learn something new everyday Occipital
7. Know how to pitch your company to anyone Rapt Media
8. Build something from scratch and watch it grow Maker’s Kit
9. Don’t take yourself too seriously
10. Give First!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Techstars!

18th December 2014

The Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is hitting the road!

We want to meet you and your intelligent machines, so we’re hitting the road in 2015! We are looking for robotics start-ups looking to take their company to the next level. If you’re going to be at CES or you’re in Boston or New York, let us introduce ourselves at one of our Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator Meetups.

January 7, CES in Las Vegas

Source the Right Financing Panel
Techstars will be participating in a panel discussion in the Investing In Emerging Technologies program sponsored by our partners at Qualcomm Ventures.

Office Hours with the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator Team
Set up a meeting with our Managing Director at Eureka Park to pitch your robotics startup and learn more about the accelerator. Spots are limited. Click here and navigate to Jan 7 to see available times.

Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator Info Session
5-7 PM at Work In Progress in Downtown Vegas
Meet the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator teams from Techstars and Qualcomm Ventures for food and drinks plus hear from Mark Bowles, Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator Mentor and founder of ecoATM, and Danny Ellis, founder and CEO of Skyspecs, currently at the R/GA Accelerator, powered by Techstars. Register at Eventbrite
Note: This is a joint meetup with Techstars Mobility, Driven by Detroit. We’ll be talking robotics and intelligent machines from 5-7pm and mobility and transportation from 7-9pm.

January 12, Boston, MA

Office Hours with the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator Team
Set up a meeting with our Managing Director at the Techstars Boston office to pitch your robotics startup and learn more about the accelerator. Spots are limited. Click here and navigate to Jan 12 to see available times.

Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator Info Session
6:30 – 8:30pm at Techstars Boston
Meet the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator teams from Techstars and Qualcomm Ventures for food and drinks plus hear from Rise Robotics co-founder and CEO and Techstars alum Arron Acosta. Register at Eventbrite

January 15, New York, NY

Office Hours with the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator Team
Set up a meeting with our Managing Director at the Techstars New York office to pitch your robotics startup and learn more about the accelerator. Spots are limited. Click here and navigate to Jan 15 to see available times.

Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator Info Session
6:30 – 8:30pm at Techstars NY
Meet the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator teams from Techstars and Qualcomm Ventures for food and drinks. Get all of your questions answered about the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator and let us in on what you’re working on. Register at Eventbrite

Stay tuned for additional events coming up in San Francisco and San Diego. Follow @ts_robotics for updates. Learn more about the accelerator and how to apply at http://qualcommaccelerator.com

Hope to see you soon!

18th December 2014

Sponsorship in Action: Fashion Metric and Rackspace

We recently spoke with Morgan Linton, cofounder of Fashion Metric, a Techstars in Austin company. Fashion Metric takes the guesswork out of sizing. The company provides a big data SaaS solution for apparel retailers and brands to gather intelligence about their customers and personalize the online apparel shopping experience, helping customers get measured for custom clothing or select the best ready-to-wear size.

Morgan shares about the “Fanatical Support®” that Rackspace, a sponsor of Techstars, provided to Fashion Metric at a crucial moment. Rackspace recently interviewed Morgan (see more here), and you can watch the video below:


 

How did Fashion Metric discover – and choose to work with – Rackspace?

We have known about Rackspace for quite some time and decided to work with them when we first started our company back in 2012. It was the concept of “Fanatical Support®” that initially inspired us to give Rackspace a shot.

 

In your opinion, what makes Rackspace unique?

Without a doubt what makes Rackspace unique is their support. We initially thought that Fanatical Support® sounded great, but was probably just a marketing ploy. After our first month with Rackspace, we realized that the support is like no other. It really is fanatical.

What impressed me the most was when I called Rackspace with a question about a Git issue we were having. I had just made a fatal coding error and was unable to rollback my changes. Even though I knew this wasn’t something Rackspace support was expected to cover, I thought I’d ask them about it.

Before I knew it I was on the phone with a Git pro who told me while that while they officially didn’t provide this kind of support, they still wanted to help. In the end he helped me solve the problem quickly. He literally saved the day. After that I was convinced that Fanatical Support® is a real thing.

 

Do you have any advice for other founders who want to build good relationships with their platform/hosting providers?

Techstars does a great job of connecting founders with people other companies who are there to help founders, including Techstars’ sponsors. These companies will go above and beyond to make sure founders have a truly exceptional experience.

I consider Adam Hansen from Rackspace to be a friend. Along with helping me get everything right at Rackspace, he has also sent new clients our way. I’d encourage other founders not to think of the sponsors as service providers, but rather to think of them as people. That changes everything.

Morgan Linton and Daina Linton - FashionMetric

Morgan Linton and Daina Linton, cofounders of FashionMetric

 

Fashion Metric sits squarely in the eCommerce world. What’s most frustrating about eCommerce right now? Most exciting?

The most frustrating thing for apparel eCommerce retailers is low conversion rates and high return rates. We built Fashion Metric to make a major impact in both of these areas. We know that people want to buy clothes online, but at the same time they want to try them on first to make sure they fit. We empower them to do that without going into a physical store.

The most exciting thing about the eCommerce world is the shift to mobile. More people are shopping from mobile phones and tablets. While this creates more challenges for apparel retailers, it also creates new opportunities to engage customers online like never before.

 

What’s the latest at Fashion Metric?

At Fashion Metric it’s about more than building a great product—it’s about working with incredibly passionate people who want to change the world. While it might sound cliche, that’s our goal: we want to fundamentally change the way people buy clothes both online and in-store.

We’re also attracting clients who want to engage their customers in an entirely new way. In 2015 we’ll be working with some of the most forward-thinking and innovative apparel retailers in the world. For us, the combination of the best retailers and the best team is nothing short of pure magic.

We recently moved the company from Los Angeles to Austin, and we’ve hired some amazing new team members in the last two months. It’s an incredibly exciting time for us and we couldn’t be more excited for the journey ahead! Visit fashionmetric.com to request a demo—we’ll show you FashionMetric in action.


You can follow @FashionMetric and @rackspace on Twitter.

You can read other stories in our Sponsorship in Action series here.