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Techstars Blog

12th March 2015

Barclays NYC FinTech Accelerator: What Startups Need to Know

Are you working on a FinTech start-up? Into crypto, cyber security, next gen payments, machine learning? Want to work with a leading global bank that can help take your company to the next level?

Then join one of our upcoming events to learn more about the Barclays Accelerator NYC. Jenny Fielding, Managing Director of the the program, will be on hand to answer questions and provide further details about the program.

Sign up for in-person Office Hours and Events:

Sign up for on-line Webinars:

 

Barclays Accelerator NYC kicks off on July 20th in a newly designed work space in Manhattan!

Applications close on May 10 – apply here.

 

10th March 2015

Join Techstars at SXSW: Events for Founders, Mentors and Friends

SXSW is descending upon Austin later this week, and Techstars will be offering some unique experiences for founders, mentors and friends. Here are a few of the events where you can connect with us:

COME SEE US SPEAK

The Ultimate Startup Pivot: Pivot from No Idea!

Techstars founders David Cohen and David Brown co-founded three companies over the last twenty-five years. They’ve seen the highs of being an entrepreneur, but they’ve also seen the lows that entrepreneurs can face. To Cohen and Brown, entrepreneurship means doing things your way. But, it never hurts to have some help. In this session, David Brown and David Cohen will dive into the advantages and disadvantages startups face when they enter an accelerator program.

Saturday, March 14
5-6 p.m.
Hilton Austin Downtown

http://schedule.sxsw.com/2015/events/event_IAP39731

Jedi Mind Tricks for Entrepreneurs

In this talk, Nicole Glaros, Partner with Techstars Ventures & Chief Product Officer of Techstars, shares the tricks she uses to help entrepreneurs reach their full potential. Everything from creating the right environment to vocabulary to when to push hard, when to yell, when to be gentle, when to be motivational, when to challenge. If you’re an entrepreneur and you want to reach your maximum potential, or you’re an investor or someone who works closely with them, this talk is for you.

Friday, March 13
3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Austin Convention Center, Ballroom A

http://schedule.sxsw.com/2015/events/event_IAP43206


INTERESTED IN JOINING TECHSTARS?

We’re hosting a mixer for companies thinking about applying and looking for more information about Techstars. Managing Directors, staff and alumni will be on hand to share information about the accelerator and answer questions. Know a company that’s interested in Techstars? Send them our way! Register at the link below:

Meet the Techstars’ Managing Directors Mixer Sunday, March 15 from noon-2 p.m.

INTERESTED IN MEETING WITH A TECHSTARS MD ONE-ON-ONE?

Get time on Troy Henikoff’s calendar at: https://app.getoccasion.com/orders/new/c94eebb7bce7186cd74e8330dab8d182386e2541

WANT TO WORK FOR A TECHSTARS’ COMPANY?

Here is an opportunity to mix with Techstars’ staff and alumni to discuss how you might be able to work with one of our portfolio companies. If you’re looking for a job, looking for an exciting and rewarding challenge or want to learn more about Techstars, come visit us on Sunday, March 15 from noon-2 p.m. We will be conducting 1-minute interviews and collecting your professional information for dissemination to the entire TS network. Register here.

ARE YOU A TECHSTARS MENTOR?

Use the Techstars space for meetings, networking and a reprieve from the Austin crowds. We’re also hosting a special BBQ to “thank you” for your efforts on behalf of Techstars. Contact John Hill at john.hill@techstars.com for more details.

ARE YOU A TECHSTARS FOUNDER?

We have a special wristband for you to use the Techstars Austin space and invitations to the mentor BBQ and Techstars Give First Community Event for founders. Contact John Hill at john.hill@techstars.com for more details.

Can’t wait to see you in Austin!

9th March 2015

The Age Gap in a Techstars Program: Challenge or Benefit?

At first glance, Ryan Farley and Bill Hendricks couldn’t be more different. Ryan is 24 years old and it didn’t take him long to realize he wanted to start a company. Bill is 38 and his entrepreneurial journey was much more circuitous.

They met at Techstars in Austin Summer 2014 and immediately hit it off. The topic of founder age comes up a lot in the startup world, so we sat down with Ryan and Bill to get their perspectives on it.

Techstars: Can you each tell me a little about you and your company?

Ryan Farley:  I started LawnStarter at age 22 after a brief stint in the corporate world.  We’re an online/app platform that allows consumers to easily order and manage lawn care for their home.

Bill Hendricks: After 15 years in corporate America, I left the safety of a steady paycheck and good benefits to pursue my version of the American Dream. My partners and I created Common Form, which lets people with simple finances file their taxes in minutes from their phone or computer.

Techstars: Ryan, what were some of the benefits you think your youth brought to the table in your startup experience? What were some of the challenges?

RF:  The lack of commitments – not having a mortgage and/or family to worry about – comes to mind as an advantage because I had more time to spend working.  I have a lower personal burn than older people, and don’t mind sleeping 4 dudes in a 2 bedroom apartment like we did during Techstars.

As far as disadvantages, with age comes experience, and thus I have a lot less experience than some of my older counterparts.  Therefore I have to work longer and harder to learn many of the skills more experienced people have, such as hiring, time management, and running a development team.

Techstars: Bill, what were some of the benefits you think your past experience brought to the table in your startup? What were some of the challenges?

BH:  I’ve worked in all different types of environments and cultures. Ones I loved and of course, ones I hated. I was able to draw on that experience to help shape the culture of Common Form, along with my co-founders.

Challenges… I realized quickly that I had to adjust my expectations about the resources we have. It sounds obvious, but I worked at some great companies with deep pockets. You get used to having a 9 figure marketing budget and tens of millions of unique website visitors to run A/B tests with. One of my biggest challenges was adapting to the new reality of NOT having those things and still finding a way to succeed.

Techstars:  Ryan, if you were married, or had children, do you think you would have become an entrepreneur?

RF:  It’s hard to say.  I would definitely need a much larger cash cushion.  But in this scenario I would probably be working for a large company making good money, so I can’t say that I would give that up so easily.

Techstars: Bill, if you didn’t have the financial security you currently have, would you still have been willing to pursue a startup?

BH: That’s a tough hypothetical. Fortunately I have the tremendous support of my wife, who has a good job with benefits. We’re also very frugal so we had a healthy savings account. I think the answer is yes, I would have still wanted to do a startup. Not just any startup, this startup. The opportunity is just too good to pass up.

Techstars: Question for both of you – When meeting with investors, advisors, or other entrepreneurs did you ever feel any age discrimination?

BH: I never did. You hear and read a lot about it, but I never felt any age discrimination. After spending 18 months immersed in the startup scene, I can honestly say I’ve never observed any age discrimination against myself or anyone else. I was secretly happy to see that I wasn’t the only person born in the 70s in our class, though!

RF: There are plenty of people who think less of us (because of our age)- you can just tell when you talk to them.  But there are many others who see their younger selves in us as well. What we believe and what we have to sell to investors is that this particular business really just needs a bunch of hardworking, scrappy hustlers – not necessarily someone with years of experience.  And anybody who’s met us knows we’re the scrappiest bunch you’ll ever meet.

Techstars: Ryan, what kind of perspective did you gain from working alongside older entrepreneurs going on a very similar journey for the first time?

RF:  There’s so much I’ve learned from people with years of life experience.  Particularly when it comes to the softer, emotional side of things.  As we scale LawnStarter those skills are becoming more and more important.  Having been exposed to people who have been-there-done-that has proven helpful.

Techstars: Bill, were you and the seasoned Common Form team nervous about entering the program?

BH: We certainly were nervous. In addition to personal stress (we left our wives and homes behind to move across the country), we were moving out of our comfort zone professionally. We knew how to succeed in big corporate America, but startup culture was still pretty foreign to us.  Although we’d been running our company for 6 months, we were very heads down and didn’t interact with the startup scene much. Thankfully the Techstars staff and our classmates made us feel right at home immediately.

Techstars: Last question, again for both of you… What things did you learn about yourself during Techstars, specifically how your age impacted your experience during the program?

RF: I’ve learned that while there is much to gain from older, experienced advisors, it’s still possible to get bad advice from them.  It’s important to realize that age or experience alone does not make one’s advice credible, which is counter to what society teaches us.  I’ve followed a lot of bad advice just because the giver was experienced, so now I’m learning to evaluate each piece of advice based on its own merit.

I’ve also learned that there isn’t much difference between older and younger founders.  We all work hard, have fun, and learn from each other.  In other walks of life I’ve always thought of older people as “authority” rather than peers, and it’s great to know that I can have friends like Bill and the Common Form dudes who have my back.

BH:  I learned that I can learn from anyone, including people half my age! Just because someone has less life experience than me doesn’t mean that that they can’t provide valuable insight into extremely difficult problems. I learned a tremendous amount from Ryan, his partner Steve, and the other wunderkinds in our cohort. I also learned that age has nothing to do with the depth of friendships you can develop. We may like different music and I can’t keep up with him at happy hours, but I’m proud to call Ryan a friend.

Bill Hendricks

Bill Hendricks

Ryan Farley

Ryan Farley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9th March 2015

Announcing the 2015 Class for the Sprint Accelerator Powered by Techstars

I’m very excited to announce the ten awesome companies participating in the 2015 Sprint Accelerator powered by Techstars. This is the second time we’re running this program and the entrepreneurs will have access to our new health system partners such as KU Med and Providence Health, in addition to expert mentors and advisors from the Sprint and Techstars networks.

We’re especially proud of the diversity in this class. Four of the ten CEOs are female as well as many of the co-founders. One of the companies is based overseas and many of those based in the U.S. also hail from other countries.

The solutions being developed by the companies range from a personal connected breathalyzer, to a fertility thermometer and app, to software that connects pets with vets. Here is our amazing class of 2015:

  • Alcohoot is a police grade personal breathalyzer that leverages mobile technology to help you be more responsible when consuming alcohol.
  • HealthID is a mobile platform that assigns unique Health ID codes via a card or wristband enabling users to manage and share personal health information.
  • Hidrate is a unique smart water bottle that syncs to your phone to help keep you hydrated.
  • iDoc24 provides convenient and expert dermatology consultation for your skin concerns via your mobile device.
  • Jolt makes wearable multi-sport head impact sensors to help young athletes play smarter and safer.
  • Ovatemp is a cutting edge mobile app and thermometer that allows women to take control of their fertility.
  • Oxie is the first smart, wearable air purifier enabling users to breathe clean air and receive real-time air quality information.
  • Rex Pet Health is the first all-in-one app that enables pet owners to compare vet pricing, reviews, and services, while also scheduling appointments for their pets.
  • Social Code is an online support community that improves the patient’s health via social connections, behavior change, and a greater understanding of their illness.
  • Triomi is a portable 12-lead EKG that saves lives, costs, and time.

6th March 2015

Announcing the First Ever Techstars++ Cohort!

I’m pleased to announce the first ever Techstars++ cohort! Companies traveled to Rochester to spend two weeks working at the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator on the Mayo Clinic campus, with a mutual option to stay an additional four weeks. Through Techstars++ we will investigate the fit between these four companies and Mayo Clinic for the purposes of using innovative solutions to overcome significant problems in healthcare. The foundations for potential long-term partnerships will be built during these next two weeks.

The kickoff was well attended by Mayo Clinic leadership and dignitaries from the city of Rochester, MN, including Mayor Brede. We have a packed schedule ahead of us meeting with thought leaders and medical experts. Gauging from the excitement of the community and the diligence of the amazing founders, we expect great things!

Bitfinder is dedicated to helping people understand the impact of the air they breathe and make healthier lifestyle decisions.  The company’s first product, Awair, monitors air in the home and at the office. It analyzes air quality and provides users with actionable tips to improve their environment.
For health systems and hospitals that want to deliver home health services, Medicast is a logistics and management platform that automates and optimizes remote care delivery.  We provide a complete solution that includes mobile point of care tools, intelligent dispatch and routing, streamlined charting, and data analytics—all within an easy to use experience.
Ovuline is a consumer health company that uses machine learning, big data, wearable devices and clinical guidelines to help women conceive naturally and have healthy pregnancies.
Patient IO is a care coordination platform that helps patients adhere to their care plan outside the clinic.  Patient IO turns care plans into daily tasks patients consume on their mobile phone or via email. Care teams can monitor adherence & coordinate care using the Patient IO dashboard.

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3rd March 2015

Staying Organized with Workflow

I might be the most organized person I know; people tell me that all the time. I am a pretty busy guy, so I have to be: my calendar is mostly full of meetings and calls, I get 300+ emails a day, I travel most weeks. But I get to inbox zero every day and I’m proud to say that I respond to every email that someone sends me. I don’t drop any balls and I’m not afraid of my email. I also get nine hours of sleep a night and I get to spend quality time with my family every night and every weekend.

There are lots of views on individual techniques. Use keyboard shortcuts (huge benefit), block time for emails (I don’t use that one), use a text expander for common responses, etc. Although valuable, I think that I get more benefit from having a defined workflow than any of these individual tricks. Here is what I do:

  1. Email Order. I process my email from oldest to newest. Yes, I cheat sometimes and answer a new one, but I try not to. It’s harder in Gmail because you can’t sort chronologically, but I just start at the bottom.
  2. Folders. I don’t waste my time filing stuff away. I archive it and if I need it, I know how to search for it.
  3. Filters. I use filters (rules) heavily to move email to a “later” folder. These are newsletters, group emails, etc. that aren’t time critical for me; usually they are just “read and delete”. I use airplane time or other down time to clear my “later” folder. I am disciplined about doing that at least once a week.
  4. Tasks. I make heavy use of tasks (I use Wunderlist, but there are plenty of good ones). In fact I think of tasks as being integral to my email workflow. Here’s what I do:
    • I keep my task manager up on my screen at all times. It’s as important as email.
    • If I don’t think that I can take care of an item on the same day, I create a task and archive the email.
    • I put a due date on every task, so that I can look at “today” and not see everything.
    • Every morning, I star the tasks that I MUST get done today. I try not to have more than 5 of those.
    • Every morning, I move out the due date of tasks that I know I won’t get done today. I know that 20-30 is the most I should have on any given day.
  5. End of Day. Every night before I leave (or before I go to bed if I’m travelling), I look at the tasks that didn’t get done and move their due dates. I also try to clear out my inbox, making tasks if needed. This allows me to go home with a clear mind – no tasks due, no emails. It takes discipline to do this, but if you don’t, you just get behind and give up.
  6. Sleep. The organization of the workflow and clearing the decks every day gives me peace of mind. I sleep like a baby for nine hours a night. That allows me to wake up refreshed and clear headed so that I can have a great day.


Give it a try and let me know if it works for you. I always love hearing about other efficiency techniques and am constantly trying to improve my own.

2nd March 2015

Applications are Open for the New York Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars

Today we open applications for the New York Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars, and I’m thrilled to be leading the program as Managing Director. In partnership with Techstars, Barclays is making a significant contribution to the further development of the New York City FinTech ecosystem with plans to activate its international banking network to help participating start-ups succeed.

My personal journey includes several years at a large multi-national bank where I spent nights and weekends toiling away on my own start-up. And when it came time to execute on the vision, my banking network (colleagues, clients etc.) supported me by providing funding and distribution opportunities. As such, partnering with a forward thinking financial institution like Barclays, has particular significance to me.

FinTech founders interested in 3 awesome months of mentorship in New York, the opportunity to interact with Barclays and up to $120k in funding from Techstars should apply by May 10, 2015. We’re looking for a diverse group of innovative companies working at the intersection of finance and technology including: payment solutions, applications and lending, digital banking solutions, currency products, securities trading platforms, machine learning, cyber security, data and analytics amongst other topics.

For more information please visit the Barclays Accelerator website. To see videos and news of what it’s like participating in our Barclays Accelerators, visit our dedicated blog.

Jenny Fielding, Managing Director

Techstars | @jefielding | @techstars

 

27th February 2015

Techstars Brings the Developer Community Together with Meet-up in Chicago

Despite numerous events offering opportunities for companies to pitch and network with other startups, we are creating a night specifically targeting developers and coders to get together to show off their awesome technology chops.  Earlier this month, we kicked this year’s first night of Techstars Show-and-Tech with a group of leading Chicago technologists.

In front of a group of 100 or so Chicago technologists, the night’s attendees were introduced to Stylie, an open-source animation tool; new tech hardware that may be a potential solution to the USB hack; The Ropes, an application that helps companies on-board new employees; Rithmio, which uses gesture recognition technology for smart devices; and Elastic Method, an application focused on helping business and technology teams work together in harmony, defining successes, and celebrating them.

But the night’s crowd favorite came from Eli Albert, Sr. Software Engineer of Techstars alumn SimpleRelevance, who demoed “Fridge Magnets With Friends.” As a small side project in his free time, Eli worked on Fridge Magnets to test out the angular -> firebase technology stack on a real-world problem: massively multiplayer collaborative poetry. It took about eight hours of work for the first 90% of the project, and another eight hours for the remaining 10% (all the polish and bug fixes that made it usable). The entire platform is served by static files and firebase, which makes scaling it very easy.  With no immediate plans for Fridge Magnets, Eli is open for suggestions on where to go with it next. You can find the code here, and Eli’s homepage here.

This just the start for what Techstars has in store for developers and engineers moving forward.  Techstars will be the place engineers come to share with other engineers the hard problems they’ve encountered. Want to learn how a new, hot technology is being used in an application? Or hear about how developers are incorporating React Java Script into high-performance user interface? Or brainstorm new ways to write native mobile apps? Come out to our next open house and discuss all!

To keep the momentum going after this month’s successful TECH Show-and-Tell, join Techstars as we begin hosting recurring Techstars DEMO nights every four to five weeks. If you are a developer or engineer interested in joining us at the next event and showing off some awesome tech, get your ideas ready, your GitHub links set, and tweet your projects over to @troyhenikoff #chicagoDEMOopenhouse.

 

26th February 2015

Patriot Boot Camp, Presented by Techstars is coming to New York City from April 17 to 19, 2015.

Patriot Boot Camp, presented by Techstars (PBC) is an intensive 3-day event designed to engage, inspire, and mentor Veterans and the military spouses to start, innovate, and scale the next generation of technology-focused businesses. Over the course of the event, PBC provides participants with entrepreneurial education and mentoring to help them solidify a business idea, focus their fundraising pitch, and demonstrate progress along their entrepreneurial and employment path.

Patriot Boot Camp was started in partnership with Techstars as part of a broader effort to bring underrepresented populations into technology entrepreneurship.

The first Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) was held in July of 2012. Since that event in Washington DC, PBC events have been held 4 times and have helped more than 288 military Veterans and spouses along their startup journeys. In 2015, the PBC team has set an ambitious goal of reaching even more Veterans and military spouses by bringing PBC events to 4 cities, the first in New York City.

PBC is modeled after the three-month Techstars accelerator and is provided to Veterans, active service members, and/or their spouses at no cost. The application period is open now and will close on March 19, 2015.

Please help us spread the word. Click here to tweet: http://ctt.ec/c2i42