The Program

Techstars Blog

8th May 2014

Happy Mother’s Day!

We know how hard it is to build a company.  We also know that it’s even harder to help children grow into compassionate, smart independent thinkers.  Thank you to all Moms and maternal figures for your hard work and dedication in raising children to become the best they can.  Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at Techstars!

A special thanks to the Moms in this video, Ginger Cohen, Dianne Lorang, Jaye Zola, Marie Powers and Cecelia Feld.

24th April 2014

A Techstars Associate’s Journey

On August 1st, I left the hotel in Dallas for Austin around 10:00am and my stomach was in knots. I had applied to a job posting to be a Techstars Associate, and the position started just six days later. When I arrived, my interview consisted of questions about my passions, understanding of Techstars, the role, and how I could contribute to the teams. At the end of the interview they offered me the role and I was beyond ecstatic.

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Left to right: Fosbury Co-Founder Martijn De Kuijper and myself

However, to join Techstars, I had to quit my high paying consulting job with one day’s notice and uproot my life to move to Austin over the weekend. It is no doubt the best decision I’ve ever made. During the program, I spent over 90% of my time with the teams doing whatever I could to help them grow. With no pre-set role, my experience evolved organically as I helped each team where it was needed. I conducted market research, helped write pitches, created go-to-market strategies, and spent three months working tirelessly alongside people who became my best friends.

In addition to my role helping the teams, I was privileged to gain the benefits of being part of the Techstars network. Founders, CEOs and VCs would give talks about the personal and professional struggles of running a company. Happy hours and FounderCon introduced me to the fastest growing startups from other Techstars cities around the country, and I felt equipped with the connections to reach almost any individual I needed.

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Left to right: Lucas Tieleman (Fosbury), myself, Ori Steele (ProtoExchange)

Meanwhile, I had to think of what would come after the program. I began interviewing around Austin, but was thrilled when my favorite team in the program, Fosbury, asked me to join them. Besides being interested in their product and the mobile marketing space, I developed a deep admiration for the founders’ passion, intellect, and ambition. I worked with Lucas, Willem, and Martijn day in and day out, learning how to run a business and not to take myself too seriously.

I am happier than I’ve ever been and now run marketing and operations out of Fosbury’s US office with a team that has grown to six.

None of this would have been possible without the Associate role at Techstars, and I cannot recommend highly enough getting involved however possible.

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There’s more than one way to get into a Techstars program, and you don’t need to have a startup to apply. We’re looking for developers and designers (Hackstars) and business-focused Associates to join us for upcoming programs:

  • Techstars in Austin (runs Jun 9th – Sep 5th)
  • Techstars in Los Angeles (runs Jun 30th – Oct 14th)
  • Techstars in Boulder (runs Jul 15th – Nov 10th)
  • Techstars in Seattle (runs Aug 11th – Nov 14th)

Learn more and apply to be a Hackstar here and an Associate here.

23rd April 2014

Techstars TV

We love Techstars companies and making videos about them!  You can subscribe to our YouTube or Vimeo Channel but today we have some exciting news….

Introducing the new Techstars TV! Thanks to our friends from Vidsy.tv we have a beautiful home for all of our videos.  We hope you enjoy exploring!  Plus we have a video below showing examples of what Techstars companies are accomplishing and how they’re making a major positive impact on the world.

Click to tweet: [Video] Introducing the NEW @Techstars TV & a video on the impact startups have on the world: http://www.techstars.com/techstars-tv/

21st April 2014

An Interview with Patriot Boot Camp Speaker Craig Newmark

Techstars Patriot Boot Camp is right around the corner. From May 16 through 18th, 75 veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs will gather at the Goldman Sachs headquarters in NYC to kick-start companies, find cofounders, and advance as entrepreneurs.

We look forward to Craig Newmark joining us as a speaker for the event. Here are a few thoughts from Craig to get everyone ready for Techstars Patriot Boot Camp.

An Interview with Patriot Boot Camp Speaker Craig Newmark - unali artists

Photo credit: unali artists

What is craigconnects.org and what do you hope to accomplish?

craigconnects.org is my way to help people who get stuff done in causes I believe in, in the here and now. Beyond that, my team and I want to learn how to use social media to effect large scale social change. Over a twenty year period I’d like to find a way to help everyone on the planet stand up and work together for what they believe in.

Why do you think veterans make great entrepreneurs?

Any service member learns to work as part of a team, to accomplish something bigger than herself or himself. Any service member learns to get stuff done, to be focused on getting the job done. Getting the job done transcends internal politics and ambition.

Why did you decide that military families and veterans would be a focus for your work?

If someone volunteers to fight for me, to risk taking a bullet on my behalf, I need to stand up and help. And the families of service members serve just as much as they do.

If someone doesn’t yet have the nerd-cred to be a “nerd-in-residence,” like you are at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, what’s one way you think people can support veteran entrepreneurs?

Respect goes a long way, which includes ignoring media hysteria about PTSD. I suggest that every venture capital firm, hiring manager, and every recruiter respond to any idea or job application from a vet, even if there’s no fit. Also, participate in organizations like VetsInTech.org to introduce vets to growth industries.

Thanks, Craig, for chatting with us.

Learn more about craigconnects as well as Techstars Patriot Boot Camp.

11th April 2014

Awesomeness – Finding a business model

Last week was week 2 of Techstars Boulder’s 7 Weeks of Awesome, featuring Nate and Natty of Everlater (Techstars ’09, acquired by AOL) talking about how they found a business model.  There are same fantastic insights in here for how to develop and improve your own business model over time. For those of you who weren’t able to make it to last week’s awesome presentation, good news! We taped it! Thanks to Paul at 23rdstudios for capturing the awesomeness.

If you like what you see, applications for Boulder 2014 are open.  You can apply here to Techstars.  The deadline for applications is May 4th. Don’t wait until the last day!

Awesomeness continues.  Next Monday at 4:30 is a Techstars Open House.  We also have a treasure trove of presenters this month from Mitch Wainer of Digital Ocean to Howard Diamond of Mobile Day and our own David Cohen!  Don’t miss these upcoming events. Thoughts and advice from rock stars like Jason Mendelson on 10 (or 18) Things That Will Screw Your Company, is just one of the many benefits to being in the Techstars program.

Click here for the video on how Nate and Natty of Everlater found a business model and sold their company to AOL/MapQuest.

4th April 2014

Seattle 2012 Alumni Leanplum: How Techstars Helped

Momchil Kyurkchiev and Andrew First crossed paths while working on the monetization side of Youtube. They decided to leave Google to start Leanplum, a service that helps product managers and marketers optimize mobile content and messaging by providing a platform for mobile A/B testing, personalization and analytics. I recently called the two founders to learn about their progress and how they have benefitted from being part of Techstars.

How did you come up with the idea?
Andrew: We used to run hundreds of A/B tests at Google. The Google culture is very data-driven, they constantly iterate and always test hypotheses. We realized that the speed and ability to iterate had really diminished with the move from web to mobile apps. We decided to bring the best practices from Google to mobile app development.

Tell us about your experience with the Techstars program.
Andrew: To be honest, the Techstars program was probably the most productive time of our lives. Not just because it was a lot of work, but also because we got the right things done. As engineers coming out of Google, we knew how to build systems but we didn’t know a lot about the business side of things. We learned this at Techstars and it was invaluable to us.

How did you benefit from participating in Techstars?
Momchil: The mentors provide amazing and very direct feedback that puts you on the right track. We ended up establishing great relationships with our mentors who gave us lots of advice and helped us connect with the right people, including our first paying customer. On top of that, being in an office where you have nine other companies who are in the same boat as you is very powerful.

What was the hardest part of Techstars?
Andrew: The hardest part of Techstars is what they call “the rollercoaster.” A day that stands clear in my memory was early on in the program, when we discovered we had a competitor. Up until that point, we thought we were the only company in the world who had thought of this idea. We set up a meeting with you to share the bad news. The first thing you did was laugh out loud and then say, “What are you talking about, guys? This is probably the best thing that could happen to you!” We were a bit confused. You said, “Look, if you have a competitor, that is proof you have a market.” We realized there was a market worth fighting over. At that point, we went from the worst of days to one of the better of days.

What was the best part of the program for you?
Momchil: It was getting the chance to control your own destiny. The fulfillment you get from having your own business is just incredible. In terms of professional happiness, nothing really compares.

What do you wish you had known before starting Techstars?
Momchil: One of the things that caught us by surprise was that nobody invests between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. We raised about half of our
goal between demo day and Thanksgiving. Then, nothing. Until January 5, when the people who had radio-silenced us for a month showed up with a check, ready to invest. That was a nerve-wrecking month.

Can you tell us more about your progress?
Andrew: We raised $250,000 before demo day. After demo day we got highlighted on AngelList as one of the top-trending startups. A big reason
for this was our demo day video. The Techstars videos are so professionally made, and the pitches have been practiced dozens of times, literally. That made a big impact on AngelList. We reached $500,000 in funding before the holidays and the rest came in January. As of now, we have raised about $1.1 million in total.

What is your advice for people who are considering applying to Techstars?
Momchil: I am gonna quote master Yoda on this one: “Do or do not, there is no try. ”

Leanplum is out of the Seattle 2012 program, which runs for three months from August through October. The application round for Techstars in Seattle opened on March 17 and if you think you’re ready, I encourage you to apply. The deadline for applying is May 4.

1st April 2014

Jason Mendelson and 10 Things That Will Screw Up Your Company

For those of you who weren’t able to make it to last week’s awesome presentation by Jason Mendelson on 10 (or 18) Things That Will Screw Your Company, good news! We taped it! Thanks to Paul at 23rdstudios for capturing the awesomeness.

We have a treasure trove of presenters this month from Mitch Wainer of Digital Ocean to Howard Diamond of Mobile Day and our own David Cohen! Don’t miss these upcoming events.Thoughts and advice from rock stars like Jason Mendelson are just one of the many benefits to being in the Techstars program. Applications for Boulder 2014 are open. You can apply here and the deadline for applications is May 4th. Don’t wait until the last day!

28th March 2014

[VIDEO] Startup Stories: DigitalOcean

Startup Stories is a series of short videos about Techstars companies focusing on a specific topics. In this video we learn about how DigitalOcean, from our 2012 program in Boulder, went from struggling in a saturated market to massive success.

“As we were raising capital for the company, one of the hardest challenges was to pitch the story to investors and have them believe in our vision.” – Ben Uretsky.


Deploy an SSD cloud server in 55 seconds over at DigitalOcean today. Watch more Techstars videos here. You can also subscribe to our YouTube or Vimeo Channel.

25th March 2014

Sponsorship in Action: American Airlines and Given Goods

We recently talked with Riley End, co-founder and CEO of Given Goods Company, a company from our 2013 program in Boulder. Given Goods curates beautiful, high-quality home goods and everyday accessories that drive authentic social impact. Riley talks about a recent experience with Techstars’ sponsor partner American Airlines, as well as what Given Goods is working on right now.

We recently saw your tweet (pictured here). Where were you flying?

I was flying to New York for a meeting with a potential investor that I felt necessary to do in person, face to face.

What happened during that meeting?
It was a quick trip and the meeting went very well on all fronts.

As a Techstars 2013 company, you received the American Airlines perk for Business Extra points that could be redeemed for flights. Did you use those points for this trip?
Yes! On a Thursday evening, I found out that I needed to meet with a potential investor in just a few days. On Friday morning, I called American’s Business ExtrAA service line, the service rep found non-stop flights both ways at the exact times I needed and I could use the points we were awarded. The flights were totally free, which was a big value add for us money-wise.

One of my meetings in New York was canceled and I realized I could fly home earlier than planned. I called American and asked to change the flight and it was no problem. Even though there was a huge snowstorm on the east coast and many flights were canceled, the whole process was amazingly easy. American Air was incredibly helpful once again.

What is Given Goods working on right now now?
We recently moved from Boulder to San Francisco. The move is a big deal because San Francisco has a great talent pool, lots of connections in the e-commerce space, and is a consumer-focused, trend setting city which is important to our concept. It was difficult to leave Boulder but it made sense for the business.

Quirky on GivenGoods.co

Quirky “On The Go Bundle” on givengoods.co

Besides the move to San Francisco, we launched a product offering with Quirky over the holidays to benefit the American Cancer Society. It’s the first company on Given Goods that we worked with to create a one of a kind give back model. With every purchase of Quirky products on Given Goods, 20% of the profit goes directly to the American Cancer Society.

Shop the collection here. Given Goods Company is hiring.