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22nd October 2014

Kaplan EdTech Accelerator Demo Day: 11 Companies at the Top of their Class

Today our 11 edtech startups will storm the stage here in New York City to celebrate their successes, present their educational solutions to investors and thought-leaders, and maybe even share some announcements they’ve been keeping up their sleeves for the big day.

The startups of the 2014 Class of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, powered by Techstars, are tackling a broad set of challenges on the K12, higher education, career readiness, and consumer and lifelong learning fronts. They range from learning how to code or speak a new language, gaining STEM skills or data literacy, and getting into college to providing students with real-world, in-demand career skills, assessing children’s cognitive ability or funding their classrooms, increasing educational travel, and validating edtech’s impact on learning.

We are extremely grateful to our Kaplan and Techstars mentors for bringing their expertise, networks, advice, and support to our teams as they raced against the countdown clock to the finish line.

As we all know, Demo Day is just the beginning of what’s sure to be an amazing run for all of the companies involved. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

Please join us in celebrating the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator Class of 2014:

BrM_logo Branching Minds: A web application that brings together learning scientists and learning specialists to help teachers and parents identify students’ learning challenges, match them with research-backed learning supports, and then track and report on students’ progress
logo ClassWallet: A single platform where administration, parents and vendors connect with teachers for peer-to-peer funding and purchasing for anything from supplies to technology to field trips
logo-1 Cognotion: Delivers immersive mobile training solutions for the entry-level millennial workforce on a user-configurable, industry specific, and cloud-based platform
logo-b0cc0e4008c1f7f1944effdcfdcfda3e CreatorBox: Delivers fun projects families build together that inspire kids to learn about STEM
search A Global Distribution System that aggregates school data and distributes to global educational travel agencies
learn-logo-cmyk_png-400x102 Lea(R)n: Improves how schools and districts try, buy and use education technology. Designed by and for educators, the online platform collects and quantifies up to five levels of data – including teacher insights and public data on every school – to save time, save money and avoid costly mistakes
logo-04b3e787e8ba505ac69d7dcb56f33ad9 reKode: Developed a proprietary curriculum and specially designed tech centers to spark interest with kids in the wonders of coding and technology
robotslab-logo RobotsLAB: Created award-winning and standards-aligned programs that utilize robots as teaching-aids. The programs help teachers engage students in hard-to-teach math and science subjects by making them tangible, helping students secure their career and college readiness
smarton-1 SmartOn: Online bootcamp for digital skills teaching specific technology tools in areas such as e-commerce and digital & social media marketing through project-based courses leading to certificates
Story To College: Puts students in charge of the admissions process by teaching their proprietary Moments Method® curriculum, leveraging a scalable online writing platform, and connecting students with a network of trained admissions experts.
imgres-3 TuvaLabs: Empowers students of all ages to learn critical data literacy skills around their favorite topics or desired careers

21st October 2014

Disney Accelerator, powered by Techstars Demo Day 2014

On Tuesday of last week, ten amazing startup CEOs presented their companies to a theater filled with Disney executives, tech investors, and the entrepreneurial community of Los Angeles at Demo Day for Disney Accelerator, powered by Techstars. The event was a major milestone in the journeys of these remarkable startups, and it was a wonderful celebration of fifteen weeks of hard work and incredible progress.

All ten companies shared the details of pending business relationships with Disney, ranging from advertising campaigns to deep product development initiatives.

And most importantly, all ten companies completed Disney Accelerator having made substantial progress on their businesses. This progress was due in no small part to the efforts of the amazing mentors who participated in the program. More than 60 Disney executives and 70 entrepreneurs and investors from the business community gave their time to help coach and nurture the startups in Disney Accelerator, making a profound impact on each of the companies.

Here is Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, speaking about his experience mentoring one of our companies:

You can watch each of the companies introduce themselves and their businesses here. I encourage you to dive deeply on each them below and get to know them. You’ll find that they are not only compelling companies, but they are also all wonderful people. My life is better for knowing them and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish next. Please join me in celebrating the 2014 companies of Disney Accelerator, powered by Techstars:


ChoreMonster unites parents and kids with the most ridiculously fun and motivating family framework, so every home is a joyful place.    @choremonster
Codarica creates seriously fun games that teach kids to code.    @codaricaHQ
Jogg is a mobile video platform that changes the direction of how we engage our audience.   @joggapp
Naritiv is a marketing and analytics platform for micro-content, starting with Snapchat.   @naritiv
Sidelines is a people-powered content marketing platform that drives brand influence through discussions by expert fans.    @sidelinesapp
Smart Toy is a learning toy that talks and listens to kids. Smart Toy can be customized to know your child’s name, teach lessons, and much more.    @smarttoylabs
SnowShoe creates magic with a touch of plastic. SnowShoe-powered objects unlock digital content through your smartphone.    @snowshoestamp
Sphero is the connected play company, fusing digital and physical play by creating toys and robots that you control with a smart device.    @gosphero
Twigtale builds happier families through personalization and expert-fueled storytelling.    @twigtale
TYFFON makes entertaining apps that put you in the center of the fun — founded by the creators of the ZombieBooth series, with over 30 million downloads.    @tyffoninc


20th October 2014

Announcing the 10 Companies for the R/GA Accelerator, powered by Techstars

Today we welcome an exceptional group of hardware and Internet of Things focused startups into the 2015 R/GA Accelerator. This talented group of entrepreneurs has come from around the world to join us in NYC for an action packed 15 weeks. By combining R/GA’s expertise around innovation, technology and design with the mentorship-driven model and entrepreneurial network of Techstars, we offer a game-changing advantage to hardware and IoT focused startups.

The 2013 program was a huge success and we have set the bar high for this new class of startups. I’m looking forward to seeing how the 2015 class develop their businesses and I’m honored to be part of this journey with them.


Astro – New York, NY

Astro is creating an automated home system of devices that requires no installation, no new infrastructure, and no new wireless networks – making it the simplest platform on the market.


Bitfinder – Seoul, SK / San Francisco, CA

Bitfinder is a portable device and software platform that helps detect airborne and environmental irritants to individuals suffering from chronic conditions such as asthma and eczema.


Chargifi – London, UK

Chargifi provides wireless, location based charging stations that include a platform for promotional or interactive content.


Diagenetix, Inc – Honolulu, HI

Diagenetix brings us Smart Dart, a low-cost, portable diagnostics tool providing food producers, processors, and buyers a start-to-finish view of their pathogen risk.


Freedom Audio – Orlando, FL

Freedom Audio makes fun, durable and waterproof wireless audio products to enhance life’s best experiences. The next rugged speaker product will be fully connected to your favorite music providers via built-in cellular + wifi connectivity and a touchscreen interface.


Latch – Washington, DC

Latch is a keyless entry security platform that uses beacon technology to update current telephone-operated access systems, providing building owners and residents with a low-cost and reliable way to manage building access.


LISNR – Cincinnati, OH

The LISNR supersonic beacon platform uses completely inaudible and encrypted tones with the ability to trigger content, second screen experiences or data to mobile devices from any source with a speaker.


One Million Metrics – New York, NY

1MM creates connected systems for workplaces. The first product is a device that tracks the physical movements of industrial workers who engage in strenuous tasks, helping to ensure safety in the workplace.


Pinoccio – Reno, NV

Pinoccio is an IoT maker kit that allows users to build wireless, web-enabled projects that are mesh-networked, open source and Arduino compatible.


SkySpecs – Ann Arbor, MI

SkySpecs’ Air Bumper technology is a hardware-enabled software system that helps drones avoid collisions automatically, making drone usage more accessible for industrial and consumer applications.

17th October 2014

High School Students and Future Entrepreneurs


Last week we had the pleasure of spending a day with 22 students from the Lakeside school, who joined the 10 Techstars teams for a micro internship day. Each company had 2-3 students help them solve real business tasks. This is our 3rd year running the Micro internship and it continues to be a great success. The students get an insight to being an entrepreneur and get hands on experience with coding, market research and marketing, in return the companies receive unique insights and help from the students. One of the students, Mary Thomas, wrote a great blog post about her day working with Crowsnest.

Mary Thomas: I nodded my head wisely, hoping that my façade of understanding was convincing, as the founders of Crowsnest, the startup that I was to work with for the day, explained their product. Between the use of acronyms like API (which I wouldn’t have recognized even if they had spelled it out) and talking about plugins, which I at least gathered they didn’t mean the electrical socket kind, I was utterly lost. And then— they asked me what my skills and interests are. I balked, only needing a quick assessment of the situation to realize my normal answer to that question (that I play viola) was probably not what they were looking for. Instead I responded with a confident and articulate “Uhhh…” But my initial trepidation soon subsided when the founders were eager to answer my questions, and throughout the day continued to happily pitch in to explain what they were doing. To my relief, the day was not filled with computer coding. In fact one of the founders shared with me that, to his dismay, he had barely done any coding since they began the project. Indeed, I saw first-hand that there is much more to a software startup than just creating the product. Marketing research took up most of our day, researching hardware companies and startups that could possibly use the software that they were making and then conducting interviews to see what issues those companies were facing and whether or not Crowsnest’s product is something there is a widespread need for. After lunch, I joined the founders of all of the startups in watching a fascinating and entertaining presentation by Rand Fishkin, The Hard Truths of Entrepreneurship, in which he shared valuable insight that he had learned from going through what all of the startups at Techstars are going through. His advice addressed some of the things that people often forget about human nature and working with people. Ideas which are important in all areas of life, but he was able to testify to their specific importance when starting a company. All day I saw how much more there is to a startup than just creating a product. Huge amounts of time and effort have to be put in to researching the needs, expectations, and abilities, of both the people consuming, and producing the product. Instead of just a factory of code monkeys, the software startups of TechStars are businesses by people, for people, just like any other.

I am always impressed by these kids, and it’s great they get exposed to entrepreneurship at an early age. Too many students graduate from college not realizing entrepreneurship is a career path. My hope is partnerships like this can help inspire more young people to start their own companies and help make the world a better place.

– Andy

Techstars Seattle Demo Day, Nov 6th, from 2pm-6.30pm at Showbox SoDo. Reserve your ticket today, read more here 

Launch Party Nov 6th, from 6:30-11:00pm at Showbox SoDo – Buy your ticket now

15th October 2014

Announcing the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars

Today we announce the latest Techstars vertical program with the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars. Qualcomm will host approximately ten companies on their campus for a four month Techstars program building the next generation of robots and intelligent machines. Techstars will be running the program with a full Techstars staff as with all of our other vertical programs. Techstars has seen plenty of success in the past with robotics companies like Sphero and Romotive. We are excited to work with Qualcomm to provide the kinds of resources required to truly innovate into the next generation of intelligent machines. We expect to see smart machines that combine mechanisms, computer vision, sensors, autonomous navigation, and wireless communication. We expect a diverse selection of product opportunities from toys to appliances and new drone solutions.

As with all Techstars programs, we will engage the Techstars mentor network including Matt Grob, CTO of Qualcomm; Ian Bernstein and Paul Berberian from Sphero (formerly Orbotix); Brad Feld, Managing Director, Foundry Group; Nagraj Kashyap and Patrick Eggen from Qualcomm Ventures; Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot; Mark Solon, Managing Partner at Techstars; Peter Seid, founder of Romotive; Tim McConnell, the Head of Hardware Engineering at 3D Robotics; Kwindla Kramer, Co-Founder of Oblong; and Vitas SunSprial from the NASA Dynamic Tensegrity Robotics Lab. We will continue to add mentors as the program develops. Many Qualcomm executives and technicians will also be engaged in the program.

The Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars is the first Techstars program that Techstars has operated in San Diego and we look forward to engaging with the San Diego startup ecosystem. Each company will receive $120,000 in funding and connections into investors, corporations, experienced entrepreneurs and hundreds of other Techstars founders. In addition, the program will provide access to 3D printers, CAD systems, a FabLab, and electronics hardware.

Details on the program are at The final application deadline is February 22nd, 2015. Selected companies will be contacted by the end of April and the program will begin the end of May. Apply Now!

9th October 2014

Techstars Boulder Demo Day 2014

Today 13 incredible companies will take the stage at the Boulder Theater to celebrate the culmination of their Techstars experience. Demo Day in many ways is the distillation of all the lessons, laughs, struggles and accomplishments that have been jam-packed into these past thirteen weeks, and we couldn’t be more excited for this cohort of entrepreneurs and what they’ve accomplished in such little time.

Under rapid-fire, marketing plans have been created and executed, videos have been produced, logos and branding have been refined, pitches have been reiterated at least a thousand fold, and that just scratches the surface. These growing pains, though familiar, are usually par for the course. The real magic has been in just how cohesive and generous this class has been in helping each other not just succeed, but thrive.

This year’s Boulder Techstars cohort, however, is remarkable in many ways. 10 of the 13 companies are comprised of serial entrepreneurs, meaning this isn’t their first rodeo, and perhaps that’s most telling by the fact that 9 of 13 are already generating revenue.

Beyond these benchmarks, these companies are tackling big issues, ones that touch almost every aspect of our daily lives: they’re helping communities save missing children; they’re creating new markets for renewable energy; they’re reimagining how we manage our credit; and they’re rethinking how technology can be a pathway for more authentic connection.

Please join us in celebrating the Techstars Boulder class of 2014.


All4Staff moves traditional employee onboarding to a mobile first solution that workers complete before they arrive.@All4Staff
Bawte connects manufacturers who sell through retail to their end customers.@Bawte
ExpenseBot is artificial intelligence for enterprise finance, starting with expense reports that do themselves.@ExpenseBot
Final is a new type of credit card that creates dynamic card numbers, radically reducing fraud.@Final
Kapta helps CEOs track and manage the most critical priorities of their business.@Kapta
Lassy Project notifies an entire local community about a missing child within seconds.@LassyProject
Native is a fun and beautiful mobile app for college students to find, create, and share activities in their local community.@Native_App
Notion is a multi-function sensor engineered for complete home intelligence.@Notion
QuotaDeck is a marketplace for the 8 million salespeople to receive warm introductions to their target buyers.@QuotaDeck
ShareableSocial is content on cruise control! We create and post industry specific social media content for small business owners.@ShareableSocial
Sportsy is a mobile training and education platform for sports.@Sportsy
Wellhire is a mobile first app that matches enterprise company opportunities with highly compatible job candidates.@WellHireNews
Wunder is a marketplace that reimagines solar project finance by connecting investors with thoroughly vetted opportunities.@WunderCapital

2nd October 2014

Techstars is for everyone

Thinking of applying to Techstars? Do it! You have nothing to lose. Being part of Techstars is not just a three month mentorship-driven accelerator program but a massive interconnected network — with over 3,000 founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners – that you’re part of for life.

No matter what stage your company is in, we have a program to suit your needs. We now have 13 horizontal and vertical programs worldwide, including 5 vertical programs that we run in conjunction with corporate partners (R/GA for connected devices, Kaplan for EdTech, Disney for media and entertainment, Barclays for FinTech and Sprint for mobile health.)

Applications are currently open for Techstars in New York, our Cloud program in San Antonio, and for the Sprint Accelerator in Kansas City.  Apply today!

Here’s a video with highlights from some Techstars founders explaining why Techstars is so important to them.

30th September 2014

FinTech Demo Day: 11 Reasons to Celebrate

Today our 11 FinTech startups will take the stage in a London theater near Buckingham Palace, and we could not be more proud or excited by what they have achieved. The first cohort of Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars has come at an incredible time, with the financial services industry experiencing the beginning of a tremendous transformation and here in London we get to be at the heart of it.

To all of our mentors – old and new – we are especially grateful for the tireless contribution and energy you bring, and the support from the wider FinTech ecosystem. To our comrades at Barclays, we could not ask for a better partner to join forces in disrupting this industry and helping bring new innovations to market. The insights, introductions, executive engagement and hours spent together have been exceptionally valuable.

One sound we will always remember fondly is the small but mighty deal bell on the wall, and the frequent celebrations we’ve had as founders rang it to announce new customers, partnerships, awards, or key hires. There have been so many causes for cheering over the last three months, and we will continue to hear chants of “ring the bell, ring the bell” when we see founders in the headlines or receive GroupMe selfies with good news. Long may it continue.

On the surface Demo Day may seem like the end of 15 monumental weeks together, but we promise you this is only the beginning (weekly videos here if you’ve missed them). Please join us in celebrating 11 Techstars companies that are changing the FinTech industry, as it is an honor to welcome our inaugural cohort to the stage:

Aire – Aire enables fair access to financial products.We provide an alternate credit score for people who are incorrectly classified because they have no credit history.
ClauseMatch – Providing a platform for negotiation and management of smarter contracts.
Crowdestates – A peer-to-peer platform that cuts the cost of borrowing and gives savers a better return than the alternatives.
DoPay – Banking for the unbanked. With 2 Billion people in the world that have jobs but no bank account, we have to rethink banking for much of the world’s middle class.
Glimr – Glimr collects offline retail data to retarget shoppers after they have left the store.
Gust – A mobile and wearable payments specialist, we create compelling customer experiences using RFID wristbands.
Market IQ – Turning prediction science into business results. Current clients include Barclays, Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Instinet, and 23 hedge funds.
NoviCap – Allowing businesses to turn outstanding invoices into cash.
Squirrel – A technology platform that enables people to regain control of their finances. A financial concierge for the people.
Tryum – Tryum help retailers build personal relationships with their customers by delivering brand experiences based on who their customers are and what they love.
Vieweet – An entirely new and exciting way of viewing properties from the comfort of your home.

29th September 2014

Sponsorship in Action: PivotDesk and Silicon Valley Bank

We recently spoke with David Mandell, cofounder and CEO of PivotDesk, a Techstars in Boulder 2012 company. PivotDesk helps startups that need space find host companies that have space.

David talks about the company’s relationship with Silicon Valley Bank. SVB  is banking the world’s most innovative companies, and has been a sponsor partner of Techstars for nearly four years.

David Mandell of PivotDesk talks about partnership with SVB

David Mandell, CEO of PivotDesk, and Jared Polis, a cofounder of Techstars, chat at the PivotDesk office. Photo courtesy PivotDesk.

How did PivotDesk meet SVB?

I’ve been working with Silicon Valley Bank for more than ten years. First with other startups, and now with PivotDesk.

How have PivotDesk and SVB worked together?

They’ve been a great networking and business development partner. There are really three key ways that SVB has helped PivotDesk:

First, they understand the needs and dynamics of a startup. There are no weird reactions to what we’ve got going on at the company because they understand startups from a market perspective and a growth perspective.

The second way they’ve been helpful to us is through access to their network. SVB’s clients are potential clients for us as well. So our partners at SVB have done their best to cross geographies to introduce us to others where it makes sense. The are a great business development partner to us.

Third, they put a spotlight on us. They invite us to contribute to conversations that are a huge benefit to a company at our stage. As an example, SVB kindly hosted our team for SXSW – saving us on expensive hotel rooms and connecting us with contacts who could really help us move the needle forward. One of the best parts? SVB’s CEO joined us for dinner and gave us time to pick his brain. It’s not too often that a company like SVB gives you such direct access to their resources and we’re thankful for it.

Sponsorship in Action- PivotDesk and SVB

The SVB Midday Hangout at SXSW 2014. Photo courtesy Adam Sams/SVB

What do you think sets Silicon Valley Bank apart?

I’m not pushing a huge rock up a steep hill every time I talk with my banker. SVB understands startups. There are no weird reactions when I tell them what’s going on in my company: from cash flow, to banking account structure, to the speed of change in a startup—they get it.

They also have relationships across the VC community and understand how venture capitalists operate, which makes our banking easier. I don’t have to explain the process to them.

Do you have any advice for other founders who want to build good relationships with their banking partners?

Look at your banker as a partner. The more your banker understands you, your business, and how your business functions, the better they can serve you. If you—whether you’re the CEO or CFO—don’t make the effort to help that relationship, a productive relationship is not going to happen.

What’s the latest and greatest in the PivotDesk world?

This summer, we released a product called Cultivate that leverages the PivotDesk marketplace to enable commercial real estate brokers to help growing businesses avoid the static nature of traditional office space and find solutions that make sense for their needs today.

Cultivate means brokers no longer have to say no to servicing smaller clients. Instead, the platform allows them to find flexible space for growing businesses, help offset costs for larger businesses with extra space and manage their relationships with these businesses as they grow and change over time.


You can follow @PivotDesk and @SVB_Financial on Twitter.


26th September 2014

Rendezvous Point Madison – Wisconsin Patriot Boot Camp Kickoff

Wisconsin Patriot Boot Camp presented by Techstars kickoffs today, and there is a lot to be excited about.

The most important ingredient is the Veterans, Service Members, and Military Spouses participating. A topflight group has convened in Madison from Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia & Wisconsin.

If this post serves no other purpose, I hope it is a reminder to all startups, accelerators, and investors that Veterans are high potential entrepreneurs and valuable entrepreneurial employees.

After the great people participating, the most exciting and refreshing aspect of Wisconsin Patriot Boot Camp is the convening of support from people and organizations dedicated to seeing Veterans become successful entrepreneurs.

One great example is Startup Institute. Co-Founder Shaun Johnson will be joining us in Madison to mentor, he’s bringing with him scholarships good for 50% towards the tuition Startup Institute’s Fall Program.

We have a roster of great speakers, and you can follow the conversation via #TechstarsPBC. You can expect to see some great quotes from Troy Henikoff, Managing Director of Techstars Chicago, and Governor Scott Walker.

Volunteers, mentors and sponsors make this event possible and free for Veterans and Military Spouses. Startup InstituteIBM SoftlayerSendGrid,  Michael Best & Friedrich LLPOpen Prairie VenturesAmerican Family VenturesBenjamin’s DeskWisconsin Economic Development CorporationSupranetAlphaTech, and  Kollath & Associates have all stepped up in a major way to make Wisconsin Patriot Boot Camp a reality.