Today we are very excited to announce that applications are open for the 2016 Techstars Cloud program. The upcoming program will be run in San Antonio, Texas from November 2nd, 2015 through our Demo Day on February 11th, 2016. The program runs over the holidays, so there will be a brief two week break to give everyone a chance to spend time with family and friends.
This program will be the fourth Techstars Cloud program, and my second as Managing Director. Alumni companies from the first three programs have gone on to raise close to $100MM in combined funding from investors such as the Foundry Group, NEA and Sequoia. If you are developing a cloud-based technology or developer platform, a product that is complementary to the cloud, or any highly technical product — you are probably a great fit for the program. If you are building a startup that fits this description I would encourage you to apply today.
Companies accepted into the Techstars Cloud program receive $118,000 in investment capital along with mentorship, perks worth tens of thousands of dollars, and access to Techstars’ powerful network of entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors, who are all there to help you achieve your goals. Mentorship is at the core of all Techstars programs, and we have a great group of cloud mentors ready to spend tons of time with you during three months of intense focus on your business.
We accept applications from companies at all stages – some are further along and already have funding and/or revenue, while others are just getting started and don’t have customers or even a final product. Wherever you are in your journey, if your startup focuses on cloud technology, and you are ready to explore the idea of accelerating your company, apply to our next program.
If you have questions about the Cloud program or Techstars, you can always email me: blake.yeager at techstars dot com, or find me on Twitter (@blake_yeager).
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…”
“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.
After three months of hard work, the Techstars Cloud 2015 companies are ready to take the stage and pitch their businesses to a theater full of investors, mentors and supporters. This year’s companies represent four different countries and numerous cities throughout the US. Each of the teams participating has spent the last three months in San Antonio, Texas intensely focused on building their companies with support from mentors, investors, and the greater Techstars network.
This is my first Demo Day as Managing Director and I couldn’t be more excited about the program and the teams that participated. It is great to see these companies join the ranks of Techstars Cloud alumni who have already raised a combined $95MM. I am personally looking forward to seeing what the future holds for these newly minted Techstars alumni.
Here are the Techstars Cloud 2015 companies:
I am pleased to announce the new class of companies participating in the Techstars Cloud 2015 program in San Antonio, Texas. We have a group of amazing founders from all over the world, including entrepreneurs from the United States, Mexico, India, Israel, and Poland. The class is very well rounded and includes ten companies working on a variety of very technical and innovative businesses.
The companies from the first two Techstars Cloud programs have been making amazing progress and I am excited to see this new group of companies join the ranks of Techstars Cloud alumni. I look forward to working with the founders as we embark on this amazing journey together.
|Appbase is building a real time events based database with full-text search and collaborative features via an easy to use API. With Appbase, building a real time production app takes only a few hours.|
|Bitfusion accelerates research and applications for scientists through optimized hardware acceleration.|
|Card Isle distributes greeting cards through touch screen printer-based kiosks, utilizing local and independent artists as well as personalized text.|
|Callinize integrates your existing phone system and your CRM. It’s a hosted solution which takes just minutes to setup and works with the systems you already use.|
|Elasticode provides an online platform that enables real time deployment and unique personalization, optimizing end user mobile experiences.|
|Fantasmo Studios is creating the Disney of the 21st century by developing family-friendly, IP driven entertainment properties with a focus on mobile phones and new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality.|
|Knowtify is Mailchimp for the personalized emails you send from your app. It saves app builders from having to code and maintain their own email systems allowing them to drive better user engagement, retention and growth.|
|Nebulab’s web app centralizes data storage, organization, and collaboration for researchers in manageable steps. Researchers can easily import data from multiple sources, drag and drop data into a project-based organization system, then share their data with peers.|
|Stabilitas addresses the safety and security concerns of international travelers with location-specific safety information, and a lifeline to help, all through a traveler’s smartphone.|
|VirtKick is a free and open source platform that easily hosts virtual servers to improve VPS business with one click installation. The functional, streamlined interface provides users with a feature packed marketplace and freedom from cloud providers.|
I am very excited to announce that this week we opened up applications for our third Techstars Cloud program which will be kicking off in San Antonio, TX this coming January. Our mission for this thematic accelerator is to help build companies that focus on cloud. What does that mean? If you are developing a cloud based technology or platform, a product that is complementary to the cloud, or really any technical product you are probably a fit. If you have an early-stage startup that meets this description, we would love for you to apply to the Techstars Cloud 2015 program. Our first two cloud programs have been a huge success, with graduates including DataRobot, Keen IO, Distil Networks, Cloudability, Conspire and many more. Alumni companies from the first two programs have gone on to raise more than $80M in combined funding from investors such as Foundry Group, NEA and Sequoia.
Why would you want to join the Techstars network and participate in our cloud accelerator? Techstars is building the world’s most powerful network of entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors, who are all there to help you achieve your goals. We want to help your company refine its strategy and accelerate your progress towards becoming the kind of company that can change the world. We are here to help you and your startup grow to realize the vision that inspired you to create a company in the first place.
Mentorship is at the core of all Techstars programs, and we have a huge mentor base ready to spend tons of time with you during three months of intense focus on moving your business forward. The program culminates with Demo Day in April, where the founders will pitch their companies to a room full of investors, mentors, and members of the San Antonio and Techstars community. And your Techstars experience does not end on Demo Day – you get to be part of this amazing network for life.
We accept applications from companies at all stages – some are further along and already have funding, while others are just forming their ideas and do not yet have customers or even a final product. Wherever you are in your startup journey, if you focus on cloud tech and are ready to explore the idea of accelerating your company, please apply for our next program. If you have questions about the program you can always email me at blake dot yeager at techstars dot com or find me on Twitter (@blake_yeager).
Apply for the Techstars Cloud 2015 program and let’s do more, faster.
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.
Appsembler, Boston, MA
Since Demo Day: “We got into the MassChallenge Startup Accelerator shortly after TechStars Demo Day and just recently started participating in the Mozilla WebFwd accelerator as one of eight teams in their third cohort. Our user base continues to grow at a brisk pace and we now have paying customers. We switched PaaS partners and can now deploy any type of web application (not just Django apps), which greatly expands the breadth of apps we can offer. We also acquired another startup company, Launcher.io, which brought us another 200 users and more apps including Ushahidi and Thinkup.” – Nate Aune
Currently: Finishing up the integration work with the new PaaS provider and adding new apps to the marketplace. Founder Nate Aune will be giving a talk at PyCon in Santa Clara next week about deploying Python apps to PaaS providers, so stop by to say hi if you’re in the area.
Cloudability, Portland, OR
Since Demo Day: Raised a Series A, crossed a third of a billion dollars in spending under management, grew to 19 employees.
Currently: Working on “secret squirrel detailed cloud usage analytics.”
Cloudsnap, Reno, NV
Since Demo Day: “We have evolved from a drag ‘n drop integration tool for business users into an integration platform for developers to build mobile/web apps on top of services like Salesforce.com, Evernote, Highrise, Basecamp and Campfire.” – Colin Loretz
Currently: Building the developer platform to support even more business apps like Box, Netsuite, Freshbooks and more. Excited to release libraries for more languages and platforms so developers can get up and running with Cloudsnap even faster.
Conductrics, NYC, NY
Since Demo Day: “We have spent a lot of effort to make our adaptive AB targeting platform easy to integrate into any type of digital application (web, mobile, etc.). Based on our customer feedback, we have also created a suite of insights reporting that is driven by our integrated predictive analytics engine.” – Matt Gershoff
Currently: Working on Conductrics, of course!
Distil, Arlington, VA
Since Demo Day: “We raised our second round of financing, opened an office, doubled the team size, quadrupled customers, continued to grow.” – Rami Essaid
Emergent One, San Francisco, CA and Richmond, VA
Since Demo Day: Raised a 330k seed round in July, Launched our SaaS product in November, paying customers in December 2012.
Currently: “We’ve seen much heavier interest from enterprise sized companies in deploying our solution on premises. We’re working on developing an enterprise-grade product based off of our SaaS product for easy data integration and mobilization of legacy systems.” – Kevin Pfab
Epic Playground, Inc. (formerly Callisto.fm), Boulder, CO
Since demo day: “We’ve learned more than we thought possible about real-time data and big data. The summer was spent researching and re-architecting the service. The company expanded and contracted people and positions, and suffered the premature scaling conundrum. Today we have a bad ass media analytics platform that works across more than a dozen popular players! ” – Michael Sitarzewski
Currently: In December 2012, we added a new feature to the real-time analytics product that gives site owners the ability to send engaging push style messages to people viewing video, or listening to audio. It’s live today.
Flomio, Inc., Miami, FL
Since Demo Day:
- Pivoted away from developer platform strategy.
- Focused on consumers and educating NFC market.
- Raised $425k in series AA round.
- Hosted a successful Kickstarter campaign.
- Drew press attention and own search term “nfc on ios”.
- Sold $6000 in first month of opening web store
Currently: This article says it all.
Keen IO, San Francisco, CA
Since Demo Day: “Raised a round of funding. Added four amazing people to our team. Made a product that we are very proud of. Launched it public. Iterated a ton. Got paying customers. Created a great company culture. Figured out our marketing strategy. Had the time of our lives.” – Ryan Spraetz
Currently: Preparing to raise another round of funding, figuring out how to sell to enterprise customers and reworking our underlying technology for massive scale.
TempoDB, Chicago, IL
Since Demo Day: “We launched our paid time series database service, rapidly added new time series storage and analysis features, acquired paying customers across a range of industries including Smart Grid, Internet of Things, and Oil and Gas, and built our company from three to six by adding three awesome engineering team members.” – Justin DeLay
Currently: In the middle of Series A fundraising and will use the new capital to continue to grow the team and expand sales and marketing efforts. The engineering team continues to work to automate and scale our infrastructure in response to massive increases in customer traffic while building more advanced ways for customers to analyze and monitor their time series data and tools to better manage their database infrastructure.
VidMaker, Madison, WI
Since Demo Day: Raised an angel round of $500K, opened an office, hired developers, and gone into serious product development mode.
Currently: Preparing to show a technical demo of the product at SxSW Interactive in Austin.
I always kind of dread the end of year prognostication. But it is that time of year, so I’ll take a shot at what I see coming in 2013. Cloud based storage and services will continue to go mainstream in 2013. Applications will need to support other cloud services — opening files from Dropbox, Box, or Google Docs natively — and interoperate with each other more seamlessly. Now, geeks like me have no problem mapping operations in cloud-native systems to more traditional apps, but as the cloud moves into the mainstream, typical consumers will have less patience. So if you’re building a cloud-based service, focus on making sure it plays nice with others.
The Mobile-Web Era. This will be the year that mobile phones overtake PCs as the most common Web-access device used world-wide, and the mobile world will be increasingly focused on Android. It currently has a six-to-one lead over iPhone. While startups still seem focused on the iPhone right now, with Android support coming later, that is changing. Startups need Android support out of the box. Mobile design is really starting to matter, and it will become a much bigger issue in the upcoming year. Mobile users don’t want to mess with websites formatted for larger displays, so good mobile design will be a competitive advantage for the companies that get it. Also, as HTML5 enables better experiences, I think we’ll start to see native web apps eat away at the app economy in 2013.
This post recently appeared on The Accelerators at the Wall Street Journal, where startup mentors discuss strategies and challenges of creating a new business.
I’m Jason Seats and I run TechStars Cloud. Before I pitch you on why you should apply, let me briefly tell you about myself.
More than you probably wanted to know about Jason Seats
I’m an engineer (double major CS and EE) and in 2006 I co-founded a hosting company called Slicehost with a good college friend, Matt Tanase. Rackspace acquired us in 2008 and inside of Rackspace I launched the Rackspace Cloud Server product and eventually took over managing the engineering teams for their full cloud portfolio. I left Rackspace in 2010 and spent nearly a year in an existential limbo, around the time that Matt and I did this interview. I knew I wasn’t cut out for bigco, but wasn’t sure where my heart was.
Building Slicehost was a crazy ride, filled with tons of pain, lots of fun, and a new challenge every day. One thing we never had though was any true mentor or advisor. Largely this was a result of being a bootstrapped company, which itself was a result of not having a very big personal network. In any case, there were mentors out there for the taking, but we were too naive and unaware to notice or take advantage of them. I’ll give you a crazy example – one day in the normal course of running Slicehost, Pierre Omidyar, Ebay founder, wanders in our chat room working on a personal project. How easily we could have just said, ‘Hey Pierre, what would you think about giving us some advice on our business?’ Instead in our infinite wisdom we decided we were going to go out of our way to treat him exactly the same as every other customer. We were total idiots.
If I had it to do all over again, this would be the one thing I assuredly would have done differently. After gaining some great personal mentors (including the fantastic senior leaders at Rackspace), I figured out what I was missing. As I was pondering my ‘what next’ move, I knew for sure I wanted to spend as much time as I could with startups, giving them what I wished someone had given us.
By 2011 I had begun relationships advising a few companies when the opportunity fell in my lap to run the first TechStars Cloud program. When I met with David Cohen and Nicole Glaros to discuss it, my biggest concern was that I wasn’t sure if I even ‘believed in the whole venture thing.’ I built my company with my own money, why shouldn’t everyone else have to walk through the same sludge? I realized even as I expressed this view that I was revealing a pretty big chip I had on my shoulder about the whole startup scene.
TechStars has bootstrapping in its genes
The response that I got was not one I expected. David Cohen, having also been a bootstrapper, was more similar to me than I knew. Recognizing that my internal bias against fundraising was due to my own negative experience raising capital, I walked away with opened eyes. I decided that I definitely wanted to be connected to TechStars. Over my last year at TechStars I’ve become much more balanced about both sides of this debate. For my part, I’m happy to recommend bootstrapping or financing to companies when it’s clear which option is optimal. Otherwise, I defer to their wishes. And in every case, as the TechStars mantra says – it’s your company, you make the call.
I’ve also personally invested in over a dozen companies, which is a far cry from where I was just a year ago. Accelerators work on investors and mentors too. I’ve crammed years worth of investing knowledge into the last 12 months.
About TechStars Cloud
So enough about me, back to TechStars. Why should you care and why does this matter to you?
This was kind of a long winded way of saying, I’m one of you, a founder. I built a company and sold it, and I did it the hard way (all alone). I’m skeptical of the hype bubble and ‘news of the day’ startup nonsense, just like you are. This program is for real companies building real things and mostly I just want to help people avoid making the mistakes that I made. In fact this is the essence of what TechStars is all about, sharing the hard earned wisdom that hordes of founders have gained before you. We believe that the best way for you to increase your chances of success is to simply decrease your risk of failure.
We have assembled a top notch set of mentors who have been there too. We have founders of bootstrapped startups with exits, VC funded companies, VCs themselves, operators at all stages of the game, and 6 years of alumni doing amazing things. The most common reason that our mentors give when pressed for why they contribute their time is that they had a great mentor in their past. The TechStars network very much is one big family. Imagine the confidence you’d have tackling your startup’s biggest challenges when reaching out to Brad Feld is as easy as getting ahold of your Great Aunt Edna. Jim Franklin, CEO of SendGrid is like a second cousin and Mat Ellis, founder of Cloudability, is like your older brother who will come home to visit from college and beat you up right when you need it. The technical bench is pretty deep too, with technical founders like Nathan Day from SoftLayer, Dirk Elmendorf of Rackspace, Jud Valeski of Gnip and Eric Jensen from Summize/Twitter.
TechStars is three months long, it’s intense and it’s worth it. For a TMI version of what bits of the process feel like, you can read the inside thoughts of the Keen.io team (TS Cloud 2012) before, during and after.
What does ‘Cloud’ mean?
Everything above is true of all the TechStars programs. TechStars is something pretty special and I’m proud to be a part of it. The Cloud program, though, is a little different than the others, and that difference requires some extra clarity.
TechStars Cloud is a thematic program, which means we are somehow filtering companies with the criteria of what we consider to be ‘Cloud.’ So what does that filter look like? Well, one short-cut would be to just tell you to look at the companies we selected in the last batch. In the past, we described our target company as one that is building the ‘plumbing of the internet’. That’s a great metaphor, but it may be a little misleading. In some sense, this program is more like TechStars Technical in that any sufficiently technology heavy company is probably going to feel like a fit.
I still worry that we are causing some of you to self-filter incorrectly. Does this mean we only take b2b businesses or can consumer oriented companies still count as cloud? Both qualify. There is no question in my mind that a company like DropBox is a cloud company or all of the Google Apps products or even Gmail itself. To me the key on the b2b side is deeper technology and on the b2c side it’s innovation around the delivery of technology (in other words I think consumer cloud is more about usability innovation). In both cases though, the hallmark of cloud is the step function increase in output that the user gets from the technology. Cloud is about leverage.
In summary, if any of the following words relate to you, more likely than not, you are a fit: analytics, big data, infrastructure, security, platforms, developer APIs, storage, SaaS, enterprise software and hosting. And I’ve always said, I’d rather rationalize why a fantastic company is a ‘cloud’ company than miss the opportunity to see that awesome company in the first place.
Is this for you?
I hope you have a least a little better understanding of why I’m personally doing this, what TechStars is about and what makes a cloud company ‘cloudy.’ If you think this might be for you, then your next step is to apply here. Also feel free to hit me up on Twitter : @seats or email me directly (jason AT techstars.com). I’d love to hear about what you are working on.
When you’re in TechStars and you build the bigger team with mentors, I’m extra jealous.” – Dirk Elmendorf, Rackspace Hosting founder.
It’s no secret that mentorship and community are what drives the vehicle of TechStars. We would like to give a big, fuzzy thank you to the mentors and alumni that spoke about their experiences and excitement for the Cloud program to participants and the live stream audience for TechStars for a Day on Saturday.
Managing Director Jason Seats Explains TechStars Cloud
TechStars for a Day: TechStars Cloud November 5th, 2011
TechStars Cloud: Application Deadline November 7th, 2011
Silicon Valley News: Meet Some of the TechStars Cloud Applicants
A New Breed of Builders and Makers Converge on Geekdom, Texas
Deadline is today, November 7th! Apply now.