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Techstars Blog

29th August 2014

Techstars Descends Upon Austin, TX!

Techstars is descending upon Austin, TX next week for two back-to-back events – our Austin Demo Day on Wednesday, September 3rd, followed by FounderCon on the 4th and the 5th. Check out the list of companies who will be participating in Demo Day, and to the Techstars Austin 2014 class, best of luck!

FounderCon is our annual event for all Techstars companies past and present – with two full days of keynotes and breakout sessions, and tons of opportunity to network with almost 400 Techstars founders and alumni from across our 36 programs to date.

This year’s FounderCon theme is “Connect” and it’s all about helping companies in the Techstars network create new and deeper connections. What do we mean by Connect?

  • Showcasing the strength of the Techstars network – including over 3,000 founders, alumni, mentors, investors, and corporate partners.
  • Celebrating Techstars companies past and present by bringing together almost 400 people to share stories, high-five big wins, and learn from an impressive peer group of entrepreneurs.
  • Embedding ourselves in the Austin tech community, kicking off with Demo Day and then following on with a community networking event, community coffee meet-ups, and other opportunities to support the local market.

Check out the impressive list of speakers and sponsors helping to make FounderCon happen:

 

We can’t wait to meet those who will be in Austin next week! It’s not too late to join us for FounderCon, so if you’ve been through a Techstars program past or present, just pull the trigger – it promises to be a don’t miss! Reach out to john.hill@techstars.com for details.

28th August 2014

The 10 Newest Techstars Alumni

Each year I look forward to Demo Day more than any other day of the year.

Each year I am more and more amazed by the entrepreneurs and what they accomplish.

Each year the bar is raised higher and higher. It cannot continue forever, but it certainly did yesterday, WOW!

With the pressure on and the House of Blues packed, our ten companies gave the best presentations of their lives. They rose to the occasion, putting an exclamation point on months of intense hours and late nights.

It has been my pleasure to watch our entrepreneurs grow and their products develop over the summer. It’s a testament to the Techstars approach that we were able to pack years worth of acceleration into just a couple of months. We definitely did more, faster.

Join me in wishing them great luck in the future, not that they need it. These ten teams have the never-stop work ethic that creates luck in the first place.

They are going to succeed, and with your help, they can succeed even faster. Whether it’s as an investor, as a customer or just as a cheerleader, find a way to support our ten newest Techstars alumni. They’ve earned it.

 

Clutch Prep helps college students get better grades with textbook-specific videos.My favorite moment of their pitch: “Voodoo Math”www.ClutchPrep.com
Data Everywhere is the cloud database that unlocks your spreadsheet data and makes it available in Excel, Google Sheets, iOS, APIs and more.My favorite moment of their pitch: “(before DataEverywhere) You are in ‘Excel Hell!’”www.DataEverywhere.com
Gamewisp gives gaming celebrities the tools to interact with their devoted fans and monetize their content.My favorite moment of their pitch: “Be the mushroom to our Mario.”www.Gamewisp.com
InRentive automates marketing and analysis of residential rental listings across multiple listing services and social media platforms.My favorite moment of their pitch: “Four times as many at 7% higher rates…”listings.inRentive.com
MartMobi helps online retailers dramatically increase mobile conversions by offering beautiful sites and apps using our turnkey mobile e-commerce platform.My favorite moment of their pitch: “BOOM!”www.MartMobi.com
NexLP’s next-generation analytics and visualization technology dramatically reduces enterprise costs related to eDiscovery, fraud investigations and compliance.My favorite moment of their pitch: The announcement of $2M in funding.www.NexLP.com
Package Zen makes managing deliveries and packages simple, beginning with solutions for front desk staff, doormen and mailrooms.My favorite moment of their pitch: “We just processed 500 more packages, here at the House of Blues…”www.PackageZen.com
Tangiblee enables online retailers to provide a realistic shopping experience for any product, leading to higher conversion, fewer returns and happier customers.My favorite moment of their pitch: “We help you with your marriage”www.Tangiblee.com
Telnyx is enabling universal voice communication via the web, regardless of application or device type.My favorite moment of their pitch: “True VoiP is a fraud”www.Telnyx.com
WeDeliver provides a digital platform for flexible, on-demand delivery of unique and curated products in order to increase local merchant sales.My favorite moment of their pitch: The launch of their new product, Locally. www.WeDeliver.us

26th August 2014

Mentor Spotlights

It’s time to show off some more amazing mentors in the Techstars network.  Below are some super short videos with tips and recommendations from some of the most seasoned entrepreneurs from across the Techstars network.

Jason Mendelson, Managing Partner at Foundry Group

David Mandell, CEO & Founder at PivotDesk

Howard Diamond, CEO at MobileDay

Chris Moody, Data Strategy at Twitter

Kevin Menzie, CEO & Founder and Jeff Rodanski, Partner & Creative Director of Slice of Lime

21st August 2014

Wisconsin Patriot Boot Camp presented by Techstars

We are excited to announce the next Patriot Boot Camp (PBC):

Wisconsin Patriot Boot Camp presented by Techstars. (Apply here!)

The event will be held in Madison, WI from September 26th – 28th, 2014.

For those of you not familiar with PBC, it is a 3-day program focused on our nations’ veterans and their families, intended to be the catalyst to spark a company, find a co-founder, or connect with a business mentor. PBC leverages the Techstars network to provide entrepreneurial education and mentoring that helps participants solidify a business idea, improve their fundraising pitch, and demonstrate progress along their entrepreneurial and employment path. The program was launched in 2012, and it has supported more than 225 Veterans entrepreneurs to date.

The Wisconsin Event is part of the evolution of PBC.  We are expanding from our previous, annual events in Washington, DC (2012 & 2013) and New York City (2014) to regional events led by our alumni, military veteran entrepreneurs, and local business leaders. This move is our first step toward making Patriot Boot Camp available and accessible to more Veteran entrepreneurs.

The Wisconsin Patriot Boot Camp will be the first program organized and led by PBC alumni, partnering with local military veteran entrepreneurs, and other Wisconsin business leaders and sponsors.

Applications for PBC are now open to veterans, active service members and/or their spouses or direct family members. If you qualify, please consider applying. If you know any candidates for the program, please encourage them to apply. Applications are accepted and approved on a rolling admissions basis. The application deadline for an early-decision is Friday, August 29th and the primary deadline for applications is Friday, September 5th, 2014.

I am confident great work will be accomplished at Wisconsin Patriot Boot Camp! Please help us spread the word. Click here to tweet: http://ctt.ec/7a4tS

20th August 2014

Techstars Boulder Informal Job Fair on 8/27

Companies in the current Techstars Boulder 2014 class are trying to do more faster, and they need to hire immediately!

On Wed, Aug 27th, from 6-7:30 pm EST, Techstars Boulder will open its doors to highly passionate and motivated people wanting to work for a startup.  You’ll meet the companies in the current class that are hiring over an informal beer. There won’t be an agenda for the evening, just networking with great startups!

Available Positions include:

  • Designer (UI/UX)
  • Graphic Designer
  • Business Development
  • Growth Hacker
  • Account Manager
  • Inside Sales Person
  • Sales & Marketing Generalist
  • Sales Executive
  • Sales Manager
  • Marketing Intern
  • Marketing Director
  • Director or VP of Marketing (DOE)
  • Senior Developer
  • Junior Developer
  • Full-Stack Engineer/Generalist
  • Director or VP of Operations (DOE)
  • Operational/Organized Rockstar

Companies looking to hire:

All4Staff
Bawte
ExpenseBot
Final
Kapta
Lassy Project
Shareable Social
Sportsy
Varsity
Wunder

Requirements: Want to work for a very early stage startup. That’s it.

Please bring a bunch of hard copies of your resume, and don’t wear a suit!

RSVP here

19th August 2014

Startup Stories – Sketchfab “Having International Offices

In 2013 Sketchfab, a platform to publish, share and embed interactive 3D models, joined Techstars. The founders moved from Paris to New York City within a month and since the beginning Sketchfab has grown massively fast.  They started with about 50 visits to their site a day and are now 50,000+ visits a day.

Below is a short video on how Sketchfab operates having international offices and an example of an interactive 3D image.

Volkswagen Beetle
by slavinek
on Sketchfab

14th August 2014

Announcing the Techstars Boston Class of 2014

We are thrilled to announce the next Techstars class in Boston! This will be the eighth Techstars program in Boston, and my first as Managing Director. Our session began this week, and will wrap up with a demo day on November 12th.

We continue to be blown away with the quality of applications and love the diversity of their businesses, some of which have come to Boston from as far away as Australia, Holland, Croatia, France, Russia, and even San Francisco. This session the program includes five hardware and seven software companies that range from bringing cellular connectivity to the next billion people in the developing world, to sparking a new generation of innovation in data science through a machine learning platform.

We are honored to have such strong support from our mentors, investors and sponsors in the Greater Boston community, and we couldn’t thank them enough.

And now, the Techstars Boston Fall 2014 class:

  • Codeanywhere is a cloud based code-editor, development, and collaboration platform.
  • CoolChip designs next-generation kinetic coolers for electronics enabling quieter, smaller and cooler product experiences.
  • EdTrips makes field trips easy and drives more visitors to educational destinations by consolidating the booking and payment of trips among multiple locations and services.
  • Fairwaves develops disruptive open-source mobile network equipment and software to bring cell phone service to the next billion people.
  • Fortified Bicycle is building an urban cycling brand with MIT-engineered hardware.
  • Headtalk‘s platform enables a new kind of nonverbal communication with wearable devices.
  • Helloblock‘s  API simplifies accepting online payments through Bitcoin.
  • indico is building the world’s first IDE for machine learning.
  • ROCKI is creating the standard for listening to the music you love on the speakers you already have.
  • Spitfire Athlete is building a brand that stands for strength and badassery among women, starting with a fitness app.
  • Streamroot cuts bandwidth costs for online broadcasters with native peer-to-peer video streaming technology.
  • Splashscore‘s influencer activation engine helps large consumer brands find and activate their most influential customers on social networks to drive more clicks, likes, leads, and sales.

13th August 2014

No Vision All Drive

It was pretty fun to sit on stage recently with Techstars co-founder David Brown to tell our story in front of the newest class of Techstars founders in Boulder. Since it was our first time on stage together talking about how we built and sold our first company, Pinpoint Technologies, we put together a few short videos from the talk that highlight our entrepreneurial adventures.

Together we’ve had successes and failures over the last 25 years, and we’ve laughed a ton along the way. Here’s the quick story: in 1993, we founded our first company, Pinpoint Technologies, which grew from a basement startup to a successful multinational company with $50 million in annual sales and over 250 employees.

David recounts our experiences together, from founding Pinpoint to coming back as Managing Partner at Techstars just one year ago, in the updated and re-released version of his book, No Vision All Drive.

These short videos give you a glimpse into David’s book, which exemplifies what it was like for two young entrepreneurs who knew nothing about building a business to grow their startup into a real company with a successful exit.

Check out the videos and if you like what you see, grab a copy of No Vision All Drive, just released this week.

13th August 2014

Reflections on my First Year Back at Techstars

At the one year mark of my full-time return to Techstars, I am releasing a second edition of the story of my first startup, called “No Vision All Drive” to include the founding of Techstars. In writing the update, I find myself reflecting on how much has changed since my return.

When I co-founded Techstars in 2007 along with David Cohen, Brad Feld and Jared Polis, we set out to create a new model of how startups were created and funded. The idea was born from experiences of starting our own businesses and the frustrations we had with angel investing. While I was involved in the early years of Techstars, it was more as a mentor to some of the teams and an advisor to Techstars overall, but it was not my full time gig. That changed in 2013 when I returned as Managing Partner to join David Cohen and Mark Solon to help lead Techstars. While David and Mark are just as deeply engaged in Techstars as ever, the growing investment activities relating to our venture funds and the expansion of Techstars created a need for additional leadership that I was more than happy to fill.

My focus since I joined Techstars about a year ago has been on the operations of the growing the number of Techstars locations. We currently operate Techstars-branded programs in Austin, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, London, New York and Seattle. In addition, we run similar programs with corporate partners in Kansas City (Sprint, mobile healthcare), London (Barclays, FinTech), Los Angeles (Disney, entertainment), New York (R/GA, connected devices), New York (Kaplan, EdTech) and San Antonio (Cloud). We support all of these locations with a global team of over 50 very talented people in Boulder and at each of the locations.

The power of participating in a Techstars program has shifted over the years. While initially a great way to accelerate and fund a business, the growth of the network has opened new possibilities. The network of hundreds of companies and thousands of mentors and investors in the Techstars system allows our graduates to have unprecedented access to resources around the world with many different sets of experiences and skills.

In addition to this, we have expanded our programs to partner with premier brands, such as Disney, Nike, Barclays, R/GA, Kaplan, and Sprint. These partnerships, along with the vertical focus of their respective programs, have allowed Techstars companies even more access to industry players and expertise.

Our expansion has been deliberate and has been done with a relentless focus on quality over quantity. It is important to us that Techstars remains the gold standard for startups that want to connect their businesses to our network for acceleration, mentoring, business development, funding, and M&A possibilities. We are proud of our companies that have built thriving and valuable enterprises in their own communities. We want to support the idea of many great startup communities around the world, not just a few.

It’s been a great year, but the work is just beginning. Our network is large and powerful, but we need to continue to find new ways to make it even more so and we have plans to do just that. Our mission is to change the way startups are built by arming them with a massive interconnected network of founders, mentors, and investors. We are well on our way, but you should expect even more leverage from our network in 2014 and beyond.

12th August 2014

A 14-Step Guide to Being Consistently Pitch Perfect by David Brown

At Techstars, I see lots of pitches. I get them during the application process, when I first meet the companies, when I listen to presentations meant for customers, when I listen to founders pitch to investors, when I read job descriptions and at demo day.

Your pitch is your message. You deliver it to all of your constituencies — mentors, employees, investors, family and friends. It’s a misconception to think pitching is what you do just for demo day.

Maybe the best advice for putting together your pitch is one of my favorite quotes, from Albert Einstein. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Little is more important than getting the pitch right, so here are my tips for persuading your audience that you understand it well enough. This works preparing for demo day but the content is useful every time you need to explain your company and its purpose.

1. Earn your audience’s attention. A startling fact. An interesting story. Contradict conventional wisdom. Make them laugh. Play on a known fear. Be appropriately different. Make them think. Be interesting!

2. You know the most. The audience doesn’t know your business, your market or your product like you do. Make it easy to understand. You want them excited about your business, not trying to figure it out.  Use simple words.

3. The first minute. Your first minute is critical, either they pay attention or check their phone. Show you are credible, what problem you are solving, and how, as well as why they should care.

4. The solution and the problem. After the first minute, illuminate the problem. Do a product demo and tell a user story. A good transitional phrase after one minute is “Let me show you how this works” or similar.

5. No crescendos. Get to the good stuff right away.

6. Show, don’t tell. A slide that takes more than 30 seconds to read is too long.

7. Confluence. You slides must amplify, enhance and prove what you say, never compete with it. People will read before they listen. No bullet points!

8. About the money. Explain how your business model will make money.

9. How it’s going, so far. Demonstrate your traction. The earlier you do that, the better.

10. Keep to your idea. Don’t talk about your competition, do talk about how you are differentiated.

11. Talk about your team. Show their pictures, explain their roles and list their experience, include logos.

12. Closing. Stick the landing. Be strong. Make an ask.

13. They will compare. Make your presentation stand out. One way to do that is subtle humor. Another is crushing proof that what you are doing is awesome. Another is just to be more interesting than everyone else.

14. Know what you’re after. Your goal is to get a meeting. Nothing more.

Founders who hit each of these points really stand out. They have a clear message that shows off their business to mentors, employees, investors and friends. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll explain your business simply, but completely, so everyone can understand it well enough.