TechStars Reunion 2011: #tslv Recap

Recipe for entrepreneurial inspiration: Take three nights and four days in the cavernous conference rooms of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, add 60 companies, dozens of founders, six amazing speakers, a mechanical bull, and shake well.

Our annual reunion provided us with the opportunity to pair up founders and mentors that haven’t previously been together in person. Thank you to our friends Rackspace Hosting and SVB Financial not only for sponsoring our shenanigans, but also for staying with us the entire time and offering their own insights (and prizes like bottles of wine).

Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group spoke about building entrepreneurial community and how to get to yes with a venture capitalist. Doug Ludlow told us why it’s more important to have entrepreneurs than employees on your team. We would love to tip our hat to the Vegas tech community for joining us at our standing-room-only community happy hour on Saturday night. Big things are happening in Sin City, and we don’t mean on the Strip.

We toured Zappos Headquarters and drank Jack Daniels, we laughed, we cried from laughing, we shared, we learned, and we found drunken, sleeping strangers in utility closets during a game of Werewolf.

Steve Blank presents on customer development

Steve Blank spoke about customer development for web startups. We learned that the biggest risk is not the technology risk but the customer risk. In simpler words, make sure there is market for what your company offers before you throw yourself into championing it.

Thank you Steve, Ben Huh, Don Dodge, Brad and Jason, and all of the other mentors and founders that attended. If you missed it, here are some of the speakers’ gems:

“Coming from a dysfunctional family is an unfair advantage, because it gives an uncanny ability to bring order out of chaos.” – Steve Blank

“Money is only useful if you are following your dreams.” – Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Network

“Success is a terrible teacher. It deludes you into thinking you cannot fail. We learn more from failure.” – Don Dodge, Google developer advocate

Keep your eyes on future episodes of This Week in TechStars for video footage of the conference. We can’t wait to get together again next year.

See the reunion album on Facebook and the entire photo set at Flickr.

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TechStars Reunion 2011: #tslv

Tomorrow evening 250 official mentors, alumni, employees, staff/associates, and HackStars will fly to Las Vegas, Nevada for the annual TechStars reunion. As over 100 companies have now been through the program, we decided to hold the unconference festivities in Sin City this year in order to celebrate in style. As we grow and expand, it will be the first reunion for some and the third year for others.

TechStars prides itself on our deeply collaborative, tightly knit community. Now that the program is based out of various locations, the reunion is more important than ever. What better way to foster relationships and lay the groundwork for reciprocal connections than hosting the majority of our community in one place for a few days? …Yards of margaritas don’t hurt our cause either.

The reunion will consist of speakers, breakout sessions, paired dinners between companies we think have resources to offer one another, and a community happy hour that’s open to the Las Vegas tech community. Additionally, companies will be announcing to one another what they need help with and where they can offer their own expertise as well.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group, Don Dodge of Google, Ben Huh of Cheezburger Network, and serial entrepreneur Steve Blank for giving us their time speaking to attendees this weekend. A big thank you to Zappos too for graciously letting us tour their facilities while we’re in town. We like to think that a lot of our core values are the same as theirs so it’s a perfect outing.

If you’re in the Las Vegas entrepreneurial community and would like to meet some TechStars, please RSVP to this Saturday’s community happy hour here.

If you want to attend vicariously / virtually, follow all the goodness on Twitter: #tslv

Apply to TechStars. Schedule here.

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