The Program

Techstars Blog

12th August 2014

Startup Stories – Plated “Getting a Physical Goods Business off the Ground”

The latest in our series on Startup Stories is about Plated! In this short video we hear from Nick Taranto and Josh Hix, the founders of Plated, on how they have successfully gotten a physical goods company off the ground.  Plated delivers fresh ingredients so that you can cook gourmet meals at home.  They joined Techstars in New York City in 2013 and have been growing super fast with about 45 employees at their HQ and another 100 across their fulfillment centers creating many jobs for people from low income communities.  I love hearing about Techstars companies making such a positive impact.

This is one of those classic, inspiring stories of two entrepreneurs who wanted to solve their own problem and built their company from the ground up.  What makes their story unique in the world of tech is Plated delivers fresh ingredients.  Naturally this creates a ton of obstacles that need to be figured out, and fast!

Try out Plated and see their menu!

Watch the video below to hear what Josh & Nick say about solving these obstacles.

11th August 2014

The Top 2% – Techstars Seattle Class of 2014

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only is it summer in Seattle, but I also get to announce the 10 companies who made the cut for the Techstars Seattle program. This year we received over 600 applications for just 10 spots, making it harder than ever to get accepted. We generally saw more companies that were further along, who already had customers and revenue, but there were also a lot of companies who were just two founders and a great idea – no product, no revenue, no customers. Both are great. We accept all stages and we have.

I want to make it clear to all of those who applied and didn’t get accepted, that this it isn’t a vote against your team or your idea. In fact, we don’t refer to those companies as rejections, but as non-selections. There are many teams that will apply several times before getting in. For this reason we always encourage companies to apply again.

But let’s cut to the chase. This is what we are all here for, the Techstars Seattle class of 2014 and what they do.

Stand In redefines how mobile apps are designed. Stand In takes design beyond static screens with tools for designing mobile experiences.

Crowsnest is a software platform for the real world – simple code for controlling air conditioners, light bulbs, cameras and everything in between.

Garmentory offers curated collections and rich shopping experiences from independent fashion boutiques across the world.

Contextual Localization as a Service for mobile apps.

LiveStories builds data tools for non-technical people.

Streamlining customer service: No more speaking to machines, no more wait time.

TouchBase is a mobile platform that helps sales representatives manage and present the most effective marketing material.

Exploration Labs is making a tool for B2B sales teams that provides a cheat sheet on leads.

Magikflix is a safe, curated edutainment video service for kids, 12 years and younger available across all smart devices including iOS, Android, Microsoft app stores and leading kids tablets. is the authenticated luxury marketplace where you can shop and sell jewelry and watches with confidence. TrueFacet differentiates itself by offering buyers and sellers a trusted authentication process and best value guarantee.

Our three month program culminates with our Demo Day where the founders will pitch their companies to a room full of investors, mentors, and members of the Seattle tech community. This will take place on November 6th at Showbox SoDo. The tech community is invited to celebrate the class at the Techstars Demo Day Launch Event on November 6th at Showbox SoDo from 6pm. Early bird tickets can be bought now for $5, the prices will increase weekly until they reach their nominal value of $50.

I hope to see you there.


7th August 2014

Startup Office Space

We’ve visited a lot of startup office spaces and with Techstars companies reaching locations all over the globe, it’s been fun to see the unique and resourceful ways office space is being used.  You’re probably curious to get the real lowdown on what founders are doing to make their spaces more efficient, what perks they have, what they’re paying in rent… well, here it is.  The facts in one-minute videos!  Special thanks to ContentlyNext Big Sound and Simple Energy for letting us film in your offices.

Are you looking for office space?  PivotDesk, a Techstars company, is building a marketplace for office sharing.  While trying to build a great company, so much time is wasted on finding and leasing space. PivotDesk makes it possible to pair companies with office space in a matter of minutes, not weeks.

We hope you get some helpful tips from these videos and always love to hear what other startups are doing to best utilize their space.

5th August 2014

Startup Stories – Nestio “Surround yourself with good people”

In this Startup Stories we were so happy to film Caren Maio, CEO of Nestio, NYC’s most accurate residential listings database.  Nestio went through Techstars in 2011 and was even filmed in Bloomberg’s television series, Techstars.  We hear a lot about how important the people are who make up a company.  The idea may change but it’s important to build a great team of people and continue to hire based on the company culture.  Nestio is a good example of this.  The idea evolved, the company grew, things got even better thanks to the people behind it.  David Cohen has said he would invest in Caren’s career because she is so talented, energetic, and an obvious leader.  Fred Wilson also said about Caren “She listens, she’s smart, she gets it quickly… you know you’re connecting…” when interviewed on Bloomberg.

Watch this video below to hear what Caren has to say about being surrounded with good people.

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 (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.