The Program

Techstars Blog

28th January 2015

Techstars Ventures Raises New $150M Fund

Today, we are unveiling our third and newest Techstars Ventures fund.

Techstars Ventures 2014 is a $150M seed and series A fund. The fund’s strategy is to invest in companies emerging from the Techstars ecosystem, which includes Techstars accelerator program graduates, new companies started by Techstars alumni, and companies formed by Techstars mentors.

Since 2007, companies in our ecosystem of founders, alumni and mentors have raised more than $5 billion in venture capital from a diverse set of leading venture capital firms. We are incredibly proud of these existing portfolio companies, which employ thousands of people and have a total enterprise value of more than $42 billion. And, of course, we’re also very proud of the more than 1,500 Techstars mentors worldwide who through their efforts have changed the way that startups are created.

Through our venture funds, we’ve been co-investing alongside the angel and venture capital communities in Techstars companies since 2009. With this new fund, we will continue to  thoughtfully co-invest alongside the broader venture community in companies that are part of the Techstars ecosystem of founders, alumni and mentors.

When Mark Solon and I decided to raise this new fund, we knew the job was going to get much bigger and we’d need more focused help. Techstars has been growing as an organization and some true superstars have emerged.

We are thrilled to announce the addition of three new partners to the fund:

  • Jason Seats was the founder of Slicehost (acquired by Rackspace), and has managed both Techstars Cloud and Techstars Austin since joining us in 2011.
  • Nicole Glaros is a fantastic investor who has managed and provided oversight for Techstars programs in Colorado, New York and Texas since joining us in 2009.
  • Ari Newman founded Filtrbox (acquired by Jive) in 2007 and participated in the first-ever Techstars program that same year, then joined Techstars in 2011.

The Techstars team is now more than sixty professionals whose daily focus is adding value to our portfolio companies. We have offices with Managing Directors in Austin, Boulder, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, London, Los Angeles, New York City, San Antonio, San Diego, and Seattle.

We would like to thank our Limited Partners who have placed their trust (and money) with us. It’s a small group of some of the most notable institutional investors in the world and we’re honored to have them be an important part of this new fund. We love nothing more than investing in and helping startups do incredible things, so thank you to all of the founders and companies who have allowed us to be a small part of their inspiring stories. Techstars is mentorship-driven, and we too have had incredible mentors help us along the way. You know who you are, and we want you to know we appreciate everything you have done for us. You have been nothing short of incredible as people, friends, and mentors to us. Thank you!

The latest Techstars Ventures fund is active and making investments today. We’re proud to already be invested in three promising companies: Distil Networks, Conspire, and Ello.

You can read more about our accelerators or Techstars Ventures, and of course feel free to contact us at any time.  

27th January 2015

Disney Accelerator 2015 Applications are Open

Today we are thrilled to announce that applications are open for the 2015 Disney Accelerator, powered by Techstars. The program will run in Los Angeles from July 6 through our Demo Day on October 6, 2015.

Now in its second year, the Disney Accelerator offers media and entertainment technology startups $120,000 in investment capital along with mentor support from top Disney executives, seasoned entrepreneurs, investors, and other notables from the entertainment and technology communities. In addition, all participants benefit from becoming part of the growing global Techstars network.

Here is Disney’s CEO, Robert A. Iger, along with Paul Berberian, CEO of Sphero, speaking about their experiences as mentor and mentee during last year’s Disney Accelerator program:

Visit www.disneyaccelerator.com for details on the program and apply by April 19, 2015.

 

27th January 2015

How Techstars Works

Do you want to know what it’s really like to be in a Techstars program? Techstars provides a massive interconnected network that founders can access for life, but it begins with an intense three-month program and you may be wondering how it all works.

With 15 programs across the world, including corporate accelerators with partners like Disney, Qualcomm, Barclays, Sprint, R/GA and more, there is an accelerator program for every kind of entrepreneur. Check out the schedule here and apply today!

We hope this video shows the true essence of what it’s like to be part of Techstars.  You can also check out these FAQs for additional information.

How Techstars Works

26th January 2015

Squirrel Co-Founder On How Mentorship Supported His Business

Squirrel was one of eleven startups to take part in the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars programme – a growth accelerator funded by Barclays. Here, Co-Founder Mutaz Qubbaj explains how mentorship supported his business through a period of intense development and learning.

Squirrel is a financial wellbeing platform designed to help people on low disposable incomes regain control of their financial lives. We do this by working with employers to provide simple saving, budgeting and bill management tools to employees that integrate directly with payroll systems.

Squirrel is one of eleven startups out of 340 applicants that were admitted to the first cohort of the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars in mid-2014. The program is transformative. The Accelerator helped us turn our original product – an ethical and affordable alternative to payday loans – into a vision.

The Barclays Accelerator provided an amazing catalyst for bringing this vision together. The primary goal of this mentorship is to coach and support companies for success through an intricately developed three-stage process:

1 – It’s all about the mentors

The first month of the program is like drinking water through a fire hose as we were was subjected to the startup version of speed-dating that Techstars has immaculately honed over the years of its existence – Mentor Madness. Squirrel (known as Wagevance back then) had to meet with close to 100 mentors over the course of three weeks to pitch their business over and over (and over) while answering what seemed like an endless barrage of questions that tested both our resilience and every aspect underlying the very nature of our business.

We came to the realisation very fast that this would be a humbling experience. The idea that we had become wedded to was being broken down to its very essence.

Collecting hundreds of post-its that covered every piece of insight related to building, marketing, user design and messaging, the rainbow of a wall next to our workspace quickly became the foundation for the next iteration within our evolution.

2 – It’s all about the product

This stage involved all the startups taking all our newly gained insights (post-its) and turning them into a vision.

The month of mentor madness had tested every facet of our business, and it was now time to bring it all together.

Each of us had been matched with mentors based on a mutual interest in working with each other, and those mentors would work closely – sometimes around the clock – with each of our startups to ensure that we built a product that increased our probability of success.

3 – It’s all about the story

Messaging becomes a key focus of the Accelerator in the lead-up to our Demo Day, a day when all of our startups would get to present the fruits of our labour to a packed house of 300+ industry experts and investors.

The combination of Mentor Madness, Techstars insights at the hand of entrepreneurial veterans and a pitch coach who operated on a different level of energy was meant to turn us into lean, mean, pitching machines.

The skills built during this third stage of the program would prove to be invaluable in distilling the value of our start-up to investors, champions, advisors, partners and mentors that would come to play a part in our journey.

Messaging has proven to be a key catalyst in gaining traction with investors, deployment partners, clients, and recruiting.

Since the Demo Day on September 30th, we have won the Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace event and the WIRED 2014 Startup Competition. We have to look back at how far we’ve come on this journey and be thankful for the opportunities that have brought us here.

Find out more about the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars at barclaysaccelerator.com 

For more on Squirrel please see below

Website: www.squirrel.me

Contact email: contact@squirrel.me

Twitter: @asksquirrel

Facebook: www.facebook.com/squirrelmoney

Linkedin: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/mutazqubbaj/

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.