The Program

Techstars Blog

1st May 2015

Apply to the Techstars New York City 2015 Fall Program

We are delighted to open the applications for our Fall 2015 Techstars class in New York City!

The application deadline is June 28th, and the class will kick-off end of September, finishing off with Demo Day in December.

Techstars NYC Fall 2015 Recruiting Calendar

Below is the calendar of our recruiting events. We want to meet with you, tell you more about the program, and discuss how Techstars NYC can help you accelerate your business. Here is how you can connect with us:

Twitter: Hey, @techstars @alexiskold I’d love to get feedback on our business.

Live casts: Ask Techstars NYC livecast. Connect with us on Wed at 6:30PM during these dates: 4/29, 5/6, 5/13, 5/20, 5/27, 6/3, 6/10, 6/17, 6/24, and also 6/27, 6/28.

Calendar: All events are in this Google calendar.

May 1:    Applications Open

May 5-8:    Techstars NYC in Stockholm (confirmed)

May 14-15: Techstars NYC in Amsterdam (tentative)

May 20: Techstars NYC in Croatia (confirmed)

June 2: Techstars NYC in Los Angeles (tentative)

June 9: Open House (will be Live streamed)

June 28: Applications Close

 

Techstars NYC Updates

To date, we’ve done six programs in NYC and have 100 Techstars companies based in NYC. We just graduated a great group of companies, and our most technical one to date. Here are blog posts about them: Techstars Winter 2015, 7 Innovations from Techstars NYC and a Full Demo Day  Recap.

In 2014 fifty Techstars companies in NYC have collective raise over $180MM in funding. ClassPass is a Techstars graduate and one of the fastest growing Techstars companies in NYC. Here is a video ClassPass CEO, Payal Kadakia, addressing the attendees at the latest Demo Day.

Why Apply?

We have written about Top 10 Reasons to Join (or not Join) an Accelerator. In addition, here are the things that are particularly great about the Techstars NYC program:

  1. You get AMAZING mentors

You will have access to NYC founders and CEOs, top angel investors, venture capitalists, as well as amazing mentors with background in product, engineering, marketing and finance.

  1. You really grow & accelerate your business

The program is rigorous and metrics driven. We help the companies make tangible progress and help grow & accelerate their business. Our approach is based on numbers, because numbers and facts are a lot more fundable than just stories (we love stories too, but we love stories with numbers more).

  1. You get a network for life

Techstars is not just a 13 week intensive program. It is one of the largest and fastest growing networks of entrepreneurs around the world.  Once you are a Techstar, you are a Techstar for life, and you get to be part of the network that helps you go faster and accelerate your current and future businesses.

  1.  You are at the center of NYC tech scene

New York has become a great place to build a startup. We have a ton of smart business people, engineers, entrepreneurs, executives, and investors who are working together to create valuable and lasting companies in NYC. By joining our next program you put yourself at the center of it all – literally, our brand new 13,000 SQ FT space is overlooking Times Square and the Empire State Building.

We are calling on all passionate entrepreneurs with big vision and focus on execution. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to apply. We particularly look forward to seeing companies building unique, interesting technologies and companies with revenue and real traction.

29th April 2015

Where Are They Now? Featuring FullContact

Check out our newest “Where Are They Now?” video featuring Techstars Boulder 2011 alum, FullContact.

FullContact provides cloud-based contact management solutions for businesses, developers and individuals. Today FullContact released its most-requested feature – it’s now simple to have identical address books across multiple Gmail accounts.

Learn more about their success post-Techstars and their “Paid paid vacation” policy, where they actually pay their employees to go off the grid!

28th April 2015

Techstars vs. Y Combinator: From a Founder Who’s Been Through Both

The following post is written by Weiting Liu, Founder & CEO of Codementor, a live help marketplace for developers.  Weiting is a serial entrepreneur and an alumnus of both Y Combinator (YC ’07 SocialPicks, ’12) and Techstars (Seattle ’13 Codementor).

Make Something People Want and Do More Faster.

Being one of the rare founders to be both a Y Combinator and Techstars alum, I’ve had the privilege of going through two of the top accelerators in the world. Unlike YC and 500 Startups which seem to have more common overlaps, there have been very few founders who’ve gone through both YC and Techstars programs.

Over the years I’ve been asked countless times about what my experiences were like going through the programs, how helpful the networks were to my startups, and how I’d recommend fellow founders to choose which one to join.

I have the utmost respect for Paul Graham, Sam Altman, David Cohen, Brad Feld, all YC partners and Techstars directors. YC and Techstars are the two earliest accelerators ever created, yet they are now being run with very different visions and philosophies.

Depending on what your goals are, you might find one of them to be a better fit for you and your startup….

Read full post.

p.s. Techstars founder David Cohen is hosting an office hours on Codementor to answer your questions about Techstars and more. RSVP here.

 

27th April 2015

The Techstars Experience: SpotHero’s Story

At Techstars, we’re often asked what it’s like to go through our program. Founders want to know how our accelerator program is different than others – what makes it better?

This is the second post in our new blog series called “The Techstars Experience” with some thoughts (originally posted on Medium) from Mark Lawrence, Co-Founder and CEO of SpotHero, a mobile on-demand parking app and website that helps drivers find parking and reserve a spot.  Mark and his co-founders, Jeremy Smith and Lawrence Kiss, completed the Techstars Chicago program in 2012.

Here are some highlights from Mark’s post, which as he describes as, “a retrospective on the 7 reasons why joining Techstars was one of the most important decisions of my life.”

[re: time to market]

“Techstars showed us that speed is the greatest asset a startup has. We learned how other successful companies bring products to market in a short amount of time. This reinforced that the sense of urgency and the ability to move fast and change quickly is what can allow a small company to seize an opportunity like no other.”

[re: Mentorship]

“Mentorship might seem like an obvious part of an accelerator, but we were surprised by how many incredibly talented mentors we had access to during the program. From the founders of OpenTable, GrubHub and CDW to the CEOs of publicly traded companies, we spent time learning from some of the most successful people in the world. We met with about 100 mentors 1:1 so we could really get to know them better, pick their brains and learn from their experiences. Whether it was entrepreneurs, marketers, salespeople or lawyers, each one forced us to start thinking about how these different specialities come together to form a profitable business. We developed strong relationships and suddenly we had people, besides our families, who were invested in our success.”

[re: Raising Capital]

“Techstars helped us understand the ins and outs of bootstrapping, raising seed capital from angels, going the institutional route and courting VCs from around the world. We became smarter at raising capital by learning which types of investors seek certain types of deals, how they approached the process and what they need to hear from you. In addition to helping us better understand the investment process, Techstars provided us with the opportunity to pitch to our company to a wide range of investors, including some of the biggest VCs in the country and we gained great exposure.”

[re: Working with Techstars]

“Through participation in Techstars, I’ve grown as an entrepreneur and learned invaluable lessons about growing a business, fundraising and thinking bigger.”

“Three years, three offices, 12 cities, 30+ employees and $7 million in funding later, I am incredibly grateful for all that Techstars has done for SpotHero.”

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read Mark’s original post here.

Want to apply to Techstars? You still have time! Applications for Chicago, London, and Seattle close at midnight this Thursday, April 30. Barclays NYC applications close on Tuesday, May 12.

(Are you a founder with a story to tell? Contact us at info@techstars.com and tell us about your Techstars Experience!)

 

27th April 2015

Startup Fundraising 101: A How To Guide

You have your hands on an awesome product and you’re gearing up to launch your business, but you need seed funding to get it fully off the ground. What type of funding is available for your startup, and how can you access it?

We’ve partnered with the folks at General Assembly to break down the different types of funding available, starting from early-stage options to growth-stage options, and go over the pros and cons of each one.

What is bootstrapping? What is an angel round? What are accelerators? What is venture capital?

Navigate fundraising options with ease. Get the Guide and Get Growing.

23rd April 2015

The Techstars Experience: Knowtify.io’s Story

At Techstars, we’re often asked what it’s like to go through our program. Founders want to know how our accelerator program is different than others – what makes it better?

Today we are kicking off a new blog series called The Techstars Experience with some thoughts (originally posted on Medium) from Dane Lyons, Co-Founder and CTO of Knowtify.io, an Engagement Marketing platform that helps software businesses easily and effectively market to their existing customer base. Dane and his team recently completed Techstars Cloud program in San Antonio.

Here are some highlights from Dane’s post:

[re: Techstars the company]

You could define Techstars as an accelerator for early stage startups. In reality, it’s a lot more than that. Techstars is a family of incredible people who understand more than the Xs and Os of starting a company…

[re: The Application Process]

Techstars was far and away a better experience. I’m obviously biased in my assessment but the biggest difference for me was transparency. To kick things off, I had a face to face meeting with Blake Yeager, the 2015 Cloud Managing Director, before ever submitting our application. From there, he made himself available by email and Google Hangout for the next few weeks in case we had any questions. That alone made it a better experience… The vibe just felt right…

[re: Mentorship]

“The first month of Techstars is like speed dating for companies and mentors. You talk to as many entrepreneurs as possible from the Techstars network. The goal is to find 3–5 people you like working with to help grow the company over the next 2 months leading up to demo day….I’m sure we easily talked to more than 50 people… In the end we paired up with 4 pretty amazing mentors…The second month of the program was about spending a few hours per week with each mentor and really cranking away on messaging and the product. This is where our vision really started to come together.”

[re: Give First Philosophy]

Brad Feld, one of the founders of Techstars, lives by this wonderful ‘give before you get’ philosophy. The idea is not born out of pure altruism where you give but don’t get. It’s hard to pay bills without the getting side of the equation. What this means is don’t worry as much about being transactional and clearly defining what you get for what you give. Instead, just focus on giving first. If the relationship evolves then getting will follow.”

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read Dane’s full post here.

Want to apply to Techstars? Learn more here.

 

22nd April 2015

Announcing New MDs for London, METRO Accelerator and Boulder

As Techstars continues to expand, we are bringing on new talent to help manage our global programs – now totaling 18 programs in 13 locations. Read on to learn more…

Meet Max Kelly, our new Managing Director of Techstars London. Max has a long background running innovation and entrepreneurship at Virgin. While there, he was responsible for the strategy of the group and for starting several companies which eventually exited for over $500M. Alongside his Virgin commitments, Max also co-founded lastsecondtickets.com which had a successful exit in 2014.

(Not to worry, Jon Bradford isn’t going anywhere. He is helping Max get up to speed through the next program before taking on a broader role in the Techstars organization.)

In Berlin, we recently brought on Rob Johnson as the Managing Director for the Techstars METRO Accelerator. Rob was co-founder of Makers Academy which quickly exploded into Europe’s largest coding boot camp and was recently ranked by the Guardian as the #1 place to learn to code in London.

In Boulder, Nicole Glaros will continue as a Partner in Techstars Ventures as well as moving into a Chief Product Officer role where she will be responsible for assuring that we continue to maintain a high level of quality across all of our programs. Nicole is passing the baton for Techstars Boulder onto a team of two new Managing Directors, Zach Nies and Natty Zola (clearly, it takes two men to fill Nicole’s shoes).

Zach Nies is the former Chief Technologist for Rally Software. His entire career has been dedicated to entrepreneurship at startups and inside large companies. He uses that experience, guided by his core value of Learn, Do, Teach, Learn, to help companies of all sizes successfully bring new products and services to market. Zach has served as a Mentor with Techstars since 2008.

Natty Zola is the co-founder of Everlater (an anagram of e-traveler), a consumer travel blogging platform and a CRM tool for tour operators, which was acquired by AOL in 2012 and merged into MapQuest. Natty brought his company through Techstars Boulder in 2009 and understands the entrepreneurial journey first-hand.

We couldn’t be more excited to bring them on as co-MDs who have been an integral part of the Techstars program for many years.

Check out this new video which gives more details on the transition of our Boulder program.


Welcome Max, Rob, Zach and Natty. Good luck to all of you and to Nicole in your new roles!

 

 

21st April 2015

The Techstars METRO Accelerator

Are you working on a startup in the hospitality or food tech space? Can your product help a restaurant, hotel, catering company or cafe do business better or more efficiently? Want access to a global retailer’s 5,500-person salesforce and resources?

Then come learn more about the Techstars METRO accelerator at one of our events. Rob Johnson, Managing Director of the program, will be available and ready to answer any questions that you may have about the program.

Sign up for one of our live events:
May 27th in Shanghai – Register Here
June 1st in Tel Aviv – Register Here

Can’t make it to one our live events? Sign up to attend one of our online webinars:
July 24th at 4PM CET- Register Here
July 27th at 11AM CET- Register Here
July 30th at 7PM CETRegister Here

We’ll be accepting applications to the Techstars METRO accelerator from April 27th until August 3rd. The accelerator kicks off on October 12th in Berlin and culminates with Demo Day in January 2016.

Have questions and can’t make it to any of the above sessions? Please contact rob.johnson@techstars.com

20th April 2015

The Science of Going Viral: Story #5 in the Techstars “Bend the Curve” blog series

Welcome back to our final installment of the Bend the Curve blog series on Techstars.com! We are excited to share with you the newest book for entrepreneurs, Bend the Curve, authored by Andrew Razeghi. (More about Andrew below.) In this handbook for entrepreneurs, Andrew has captured the brilliance and insights of over a dozen of our most sought-after mentors. Everyone from first-time entrepreneurs to seasoned veterans will find useful, practical advice from other founders that you can use on your journey.

Over the past several weeks, we have been releasing short excerpts from the book including stories of entrepreneur success and failure. Today, read about Emerson Spartz, who began his entrepreneurial journey at age 12. We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the lives of startup founders. To order the book, visit: http://bendthecurve.co/

Bend the Curve
Chapter 12: The Science of Going Viral

The words projected on the screen behind him set the tone for what’s to come. Hi! I’m Emerson Spartz. I want to change the world. Emerson Spartz speaks with the cadence of a man on a mission. He talks fast—really fast—as if his tongue is in a race to catch up with his brain. His tongue has no chance. Spartz wastes no time, knows what works, and is generous in sharing it. He—along with his team at Spartz, Inc.—has turned the art of virality into a science, a science he began studying at a very early age.

At 12 years old, Emerson Spartz convinced his parents to let him drop out of school to homeschool himself. A month later, he created a website called MuggleNet, a Harry Potter fan site that quickly drew over 50 million page views per month. “I had to grow up really fast,” Spartz recalls. “Through MuggleNet, I was managing a part-paid, part-volunteer staff of 120 people. I learned how to code, how to write, how to lead, how to edit, and how to design. We published three books, one of which became a New York Times bestseller. The success of MuggleNet allowed me to represent the fans at a press conference with J.K. Rowling. It went extremely viral because she rarely does interviews.

Spartz combined his early success with an insatiable appetite for the study of influence, which became the foundation of his company. Spartz, now 27, is co-founder of Spartz, Inc. along with his wife Gaby, she too a once-precocious 12-year- old founder. Her site, Daily Cute, is a website of images of baby animals. As Emerson recalls from when he met her as classmates at Notre Dame, “I hit the jackpot!

Both MuggleNet and Daily Cute are now two of what is a growing portfolio of Spartz Media websites and apps that collectively draw over 17 million readers and over 25 million followers on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Spartz now launches a new property once every six weeks. Among the properties he’s launched over the years are GivesMeHope, Memestache, OMG Facts, Unfriendable, As Failed on TV, SmartphOWNED, Dose, in addition to new mobile apps in gaming (Blanks) and dating (Twirl). Spartz now has nearly forty people working for him full-time including data scientists, web developers, and editors. Together, Spartz, Inc. media properties educate, inspire, and entertain over 100 million people every month.

Spartz is in the business of virality. Using predictive science to measure viral potential, Spartz can predict the likelihood of a piece of content going viral or not. Thus far, Spartz Media has a 90 percent success rate. Spartz refers to his proprietary algorithm as an “awesomeness meter.”

In this chapter, we’ll talk about:

  • The science of virality
  • Making stuff go viral
  • Really useful techniques you should use

I liked that. Give me more. To order the book: http://bendthecurve.co/

About the Author

Andrew Razeghi is  an educator, author, speaker, consultant and angel investor. He is a limited partner in Techstars and integrally involved in the Chicago program. Andrew is a lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is also founder & managing director of StrategyLab, Inc., a growth strategy & innovation consulting group.

Andrew is a contributor on the topic of innovation for a series of shows on The Travel Channel and is the author of several books including The Future of Innovation, The Upside of Down: Innovation through Recessions, and The Riddle: Where Ideas Come From and How to Have Better Ones. The Riddlewas chosen by Fast Company as one of its “Smart Books.” You can reach Andrew by email at andrew@strategylab.com or follow him on twitter @andrewrazeghi.

20th April 2015

Where Are They Now? Sphero in the New Star Wars Film

The latest company in our Where are They Now? series features Boulder-based Sphero, who first graduated from Techstars in 2010. Their extremely passionate mentor, Paul Berberian, joined as their CEO later on that year. Sphero has grown quickly and even with their popularity and success, decided to go through the Disney Accelerator Powered by Techstars program in 2014. This experience led to an exciting opportunity to create a new robot named BB-8—a new character in the upcoming installment of the Star Wars series!

Sphero is also making a positive impact on the world with their SPRK (Schools, Parents, Robots, Kids) program. By combining technology and robots, they’re teaching and inspiring children of all ages.  Whether you’re an educator or a parent, SPRK lessons give kids a fun crash course in programming while sharpening their skills in math and science.

Check out the video below and congratulations to everyone at Sphero!