The Program

Techstars Blog

31st July 2014

Idea Makers

At Techstars, we’re all about the people.  The network is made up of thousands of amazing founders, mentors, investors, and sponsors.  With so many experienced entrepreneurs in the network, we can learn a lot from each other. Below are just a few Techstars founders sharing a little wisdom in one-minute videos.  Watch more videos on Techstars founders here.

Idea Makers Trailer

Emily LaFave, Co-founder of Foodzie

Alex White, CEO and Co-founder of Next Big Sound

Dorian Ferlauto, CEO of Elihuu

Brad McNamara, FreightFarms

28th July 2014

Making in Manhattan – NYC hardware has its day

Hardware, often viewed as the poor step-child of the tech scene, is experiencing a Renaissance with West Coast based companies such as Nest and Oculus being snapped up for mind blowing amounts of cash. However, New York’s hardware scene is flourishing, proving to be a seductive environment for start-ups and partner companies that support the hardware ecosystem. Engrained industries, including marketing and manufacturing have built a formidable platform for new entrants. It’s easy to sense momentum from the dozens of Maker spaces, meetup groups, hack events and conferences centered on hardware, connected devices, wearables and IoT.

In the last few years, New York nurtured some impressive and now well established hardware companies such as Makerbot and Adafruit as well as start-ups such as Canary, the 2013 Indiegogo darling. Companies that showcase and celebrate hardware such as Quirky and Grand St. have also contributed to the success of hardware companies by providing necessary platforms for distribution. New York has always fostered strong e-commerce companies, laying the foundation for hardware marketplaces to thrive here as well.

This ecosystem has been supported by a solid investor base that has been early in identifying this opportunity. It includes VC’s like Matt Turck at Firstmark and Matt Witheiler at Flybridge as well as the various angel investors who have recently breezed through my office to see what’s cooking (or 3D printing!) at the RGA Accelerator. Unlike software, it still requires more cash to produce hardware, so start-ups need to look beyond crowdfunding to deeper pockets – and NYC has some pretty deep pockets.

As the fashion capital of the world, wearables are clearly influencing big brands like Tory Burch who are embracing new technologies. I’ve recently seen my fair share of wacky wearables — everything from a dress that gives directions to 3D printed stilettos that alert you when your feet need a rest. So much of it is happening right in the midst of the garment district, with start-ups working side by side with ‘old world’ garment manufacturers.

On a personal note, I am thrilled to be back in NYC as hardware comes to the forefront of the startup scene. NYC may have not have fully embraced recent tech trends like cloud and big data, but we getting excited about drone charging stations and talking Band-Aids! Software will continue to thrive but be warned, hardware is also here to stay.

24th July 2014

Announcing 12 New Companies for the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, Powered by Techstars

I’m thrilled to announce the edtech-focused startups that are gathering in New York this summer to participate in the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, powered by Techstars.

The 2013 program was a huge success and we have high expectations for this new class of startups. Our intensive, three-month program will help these companies refine their vision and accelerate their progress towards making a real impact on education.

These companies have highly motivating projects. Instead of sitting in classrooms learning facts about how to start a company, they are ‘learning-by-doing’ and building real capabilities to reach the next level of performance in customer, product, organization, and fundraising competences (the curriculum).

We are honored to be a part of this journey with Kaplan. The 2014 class includes:

BrM_logo Branching Minds (New York, NY): an online tool to help identify, understand, and address students’ cognitive strengths and weaknesses while tracking and reporting data across grade levels, classes, and the home-school divide
logo ClassWallet (Miami, FL): digital wallet and ecommerce platform letting donors easily give and track donations to K-12 classes and also gives teachers decision-making power over budgets and purchases for their classrooms
logo-1 Cognotion (New York, NY): teaches students another language and career skills through story-telling, using online video narratives, gamification features, live simulation, and social media tools
logo-b0cc0e4008c1f7f1944effdcfdcfda3e CreatorBox (New York, NY): helps children ages 7-12 years old develop their creativity and practical science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills through a monthly series of engaging building projects
search Edvisor.io (Toronto, ON, Canada and New York, NY): increases access to global educational opportunities by seamlessly connecting schools and educational travel agencies via a worldwide distribution system with integrated web tools
imgres-1 Grockit (New York, NY): online tool uses adaptive learning, peer-to-peer learning, and game-like motivational features to help students prepare for standardized ; originally founded in 2007, Grockit was acquired by Kaplan in July 2013
learn-logo-cmyk_png-400x102 Lea(R)n (Raleigh, NC): runs cost-effective pre-clinical and clinical trials to validate emerging education technologies’ impact on learning outcomes
logo-04b3e787e8ba505ac69d7dcb56f33ad9 reKode (Reykjavik, Iceland and  Redmond, WA): teaches computer coding skills to children and young adults—including those with learning challenges and disabilities—in a face-to-face environment, emphasizing peer-to-peer learning, positive development and creativity
robotslab-logo RobotsLAB (San Francisco, CA): creates robots as in-classroom teaching aids that help K-12 educators bring to life abstract math and science concepts in fun, engaging ways
smarton-1 SmartOn (Bangalore, India): teaches “new economy skills” in such areas such as coding, data science, social media and design
imgres-2 Story To College (New York, NY): offers online and in-person courses that leverage the neuroscience of storytelling to help students write impactful, effective admissions essays
imgres-3 TuvaLabs (New York, NY): teaches data literacy skills by engaging students through the exploration and use of real data related to students’ own favorite topics and interests

23rd July 2014

Blake Yeager Joins Techstars as Managing Director, Techstars Cloud

My journey to join the Techstars team started in late 2011, when Techstars was ramping up to launch the first Cloud program in San Antonio.  I was working for HP Cloud Services at the time, helping to build HP’s public cloud.  After meeting with Jason Seats, the original Managing Director for the program, I volunteered to serve as a mentor for the program.  I really didn’t know what to expect, but I hoped that I would be able to provide some value to the companies that had been selected.

Since that day, I have been continuously impressed by the quality of the people involved with Techstars.  The passion of the founders, the generosity of the mentors, and the power of the network have been awesome to experience first hand.  A year and half after I started mentoring, I found myself leaving HP to join ZeroVM, a 2013 Techstars Cloud alumni company and today, I am extremely excited to be taking over as the Managing Director for the Cloud program.

The roster of alumni from the first two Techstars Cloud programs includes some great companies and even better founders.  I don’t want to name names, because I know I will leave someone out, but these companies have raised serious money and are doing amazing things.  I am excited by the opportunity to continue to build on the legacy that Jason and these first two classes have pioneered.

Let me share a little bit about myself.  Prior to my current role with Techstars, I was leading the team building ZeroVM after Rackspace acquired the company behind the technology.  I have spent most of the last five years building public clouds for both Rackspace and HP, working primarily in Product Management.  I was also lucky enough to be a part of the team that launched OpenStack, the open source cloud management platform.

Before my adventures in the clouds, I spent seven years building grand format digital ink-jet printers for a startup called Gandi Innovations.  I have a degree in Computer Engineering, and I volunteer on the board of the Brighton Center.  I live in San Antonio with my wife and our son, and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of his little brother.

The next Techstars Cloud program will be kicking off in San Antonio in early 2015 with applications opening up this Fall.  Stay tuned for more details and the exact timing for the upcoming program.

22nd July 2014

[Video] Startup Stories on Hammerhead “A software company unafraid of hardware”

We’ve had a bunch of Startup Stories  coming out and here’s a new one! In this video we learn more about Hammerhead, a company who went through the R/GA Accelerator Powered by Techstars. By the way applications are open and the deadline is August 25th, 2014… so APPLY!

Hammerhead is creating something amazing for cyclists.  Seriously amazing!  The Hammerhead is a tool that takes complex navigation information and it shows you where to ride using light signals.  They’re creating a way to discover great, safe, bike routes possible anywhere in the world.  You can pre-order the Hammerhead now, shipping this fall.  Watch the video below to learn how they utilize software and hardware to create an amazing experience.

15th July 2014

Startup Stories – Enertiv “Transforming an Industry”

Here’s a new video from our Startup Stories series on Enertiv, recent grad of the R/GA accelerator.  Applications are open for this year’s connected devices program, so apply!  You have nothing to lose.

Enertiv provides a combination of hardware and software that allows buildings to monitor their energy consumption in real-time to save energy and money.  Commercial buildings in the U.S. waste 30% of the energy they consume which costs them $40 billion each year! It’s amazing to think of what positive impact Enertiv has made on the world.  Watch this short video to learn about how Enertiv is changing this massive problem.

Watch more Startup Stories here.

14th July 2014

Meet the 13 Companies Participating in the Boulder Class of 2014!

Today is always an exciting day for me.  It’s the day I get to tell you all about the companies in this next Techstars Boulder 2014 class – and it’s day 1 of the Techstars program!  But before you read about them,  I’d like to take a moment to tip my hat to the teams who weren’t selected.

I read every single application. I watched every single video. I read about their backgrounds and played with their applications.  I got to know many of the companies and their founders very well which always makes the decision gut wrenching and often heartbreaking.  This year was particularly hard and it seems to get harder every year.

But the thing I always wholeheartedly believe is that not getting into Techstars isn’t a rejection – it’s why we call it internally non-selection.  There are fantastic companies that we don’t accept for reasons that aren’t reflective of the company itself.  For instance, I think a different Techstars program is a better fit for that particular company, or I don’t have the mentors necessary to move the needle for that particular market, or the company has some things it needs to figure out before really being able to optimize around the program.

We have a couple of mantras around Techstars, and one of my favorites is #FoundersFirst.  All of my decisions map to that. And I have a team of people that help me make sure I’m staying true to that mantra.   If you read between the lines, you’ll see that theme in all of the reasons I cite above.

So, I just wanted to throw a little love to all the teams that applied but didn’t get in, for all the people that sent recommendations for them – for all the hard work everyone puts into the Techstars application process.  I can only hope you got as much out of the process as I did.  And I’m looking forward to seeing your application again next year.

No more looking backwards.  Let’s look forwards.  Without further ado, I present to you the Techstars Boulder Class of 2014!

Mobile HR Paperwork and more

Mobile app that manages your products and their warranties, instruction manuals, and customer support

Expense reports that do themselves

A credit card for the 21st century

Management and tracking of executive team objectives and KPIs

Notify an entire local community about a missing child within seconds

Loop: An all-in-one sensor for simplified home security

Platform for B2B freelance salespeople generating qualified leads for businesses

Social media posts for SMBs

Mobile training & coaching for sports

Varsity: Helps students discover events, clubs, and classes they love based on their interests

Hiring decisions made easy

Crowdfunded commercial solar

10th July 2014

Additional Openings for Hackstars for the Boulder Class of 2014!

Part of the fun of accepting a slightly larger than normal cohort of exciting and mind-blowing start-ups is being able to hire a few more Hackstars for the 2014 program!

What is a Hackstar?

A technical ninja who provides teams with his/her time and technical skills to help companies become viable businesses by the end of the three-month program

What do we look for?

·       You are a code-slinging mac-daddy superstar guru at any one or more of the following: PHP, Java, .NET, Python, Objective-C, Ruby, JQuery, OR a rockstar designer or UI/UX pro.

·       You are willing to work full-time in Boulder (or are willing to relocate) during the summer program (mid-July until October 10, 2014).

Why Do it?

·       Community – The staff, associates, mentors, and founders are all part of a very fun and special family.  It is a highly collaborative environment where strong life-long relationships are built.

·       Learning – Everyone learns from each other. You will work side-by-side with some of the country’s most promising new founders and young companies and learn all about startups and funding from our mentors.

If you want to join a startup or if you want to start your own startup, there is no better deal out there.

How to Apply?

Email Julie Penner at julie.penner@techstars.com ASAP.

For more information

http://www.techstars.com/hackstars/

9th July 2014

Meet some mentors!

Techstars is a mentorship driven program.  It’s that simple.  We have about 100 mentors for each of our programs and teams are paired with those they think best complement their business needs.  We’re incredibly thankful for our extensive network of mentors – with more than 1,000 – and the endless dedication they give to entrepreneurs in the Techstars program. These mentors are modern day super heroes and the relationships that founders build with their mentors can last a lifetime.

Here’s the first in a series of videos about our mentors. Check out the trailer to learn more about the program and get to know some of the Techstars mentors. Thank you!

Jeremy Shure, Head of Investor Relations and General Counsel of Pellucid Analytics

Sue Heilbronner, CEO of BoulderIdeas

Paul Berberian, CEO of Sphero

Brad Bernthal, Associate Professor of Law at Colorado Law School and Director of the Silicon Flatirons Center’s Entrepreneurship Initiative

#givefirst

7th July 2014

Meet the Companies Participating in Disney Accelerator Powered by Techstars

Disney and Techstars are thrilled to announce the media and entertainment-focused technology startups that are gathering in Los Angeles this summer to participate in Disney Accelerator, powered by Techstars.

Disney Accelerator combines the magic of The Walt Disney Company with the mentorship-driven model and entrepreneurial network of Techstars to offer a game-changing advantage to startups in the media and entertainment space.  The breadth of impact that Disney provides to culture and business is incredible, and we are thrilled to help these companies leverage this influence and the business leaders, creatives, and technologists at Disney to each accelerate their progress and potential.

The companies we are announcing today represent a diverse cross-section of media and entertainment and join us in Los Angeles from a wide range of geographies.  We eagerly look forward to where they take their businesses next and are honored to be a part of this journey with them.

 

The Disney Accelerator Class of 2014:

Buzzstarter | @buzzstarter

San Francisco, CA

Buzzstarter is the world’s first scalable programmatic content marketing platform.

 

Choremonster | @choremonster

Cincinnati, OH

ChoreMonster is a web and mobile platform that makes chores fun for kids and turns parents into superheroes.

 

Codarica | @CodaricaHQ

Stockholm, Sweden

Codarica serves as children’s first interaction into the world of code with help from characters Cody Coder and Holly Hacker.

 

Cogo | @Cogo_tv

Santa Monica, CA

Cogo provides video monetization solutions for content creators.

 

Jogg | @joggapp

Los Angeles, CA

Jogg simplifies the act of acquiring video from anyone. Users can gather, edit and share much more than just video from their own device.

 

Sidelines | @SidelinesApp

San Francisco, CA

Sidelines fixes the problem of substandard online discussions and comments by sourcing smart, high-quality discussions from its curated team of over 400 experts, and distributing these discussions to publishers based on relevance.

 

SnowShoe | @SnowShoeStamp

San Francisco, CA

SnowShoe makes simple, magical pieces of plastic that interact with touch screens to create the perfect bridge between physical items and digital media.

 

Sphero | @gosphero

Boulder, CO

Sphero is the connected play company, which fuses digital and physical play by creating robots that you control with a smart device.

 

Twigtale | @twigtale

Los Angeles, CA

Twigtale provides parents with personalized, high-quality, accessible expert advice for every major transition a child undergoes.

 

TYFFON | @tyffoninc

Tokyo, Japan

TYFFON is an entertainment app development company and creator of ZombieBooth series with more than 25 million total downloads.

 

Ubooly | @ubooly

Boulder, CO

Ubooly is a learning toy that talks and listens to kids. Ubooly can be customized to know your child’s name, teach lessons, and much more.