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Last week was a watershed week, of sorts, for the VC industry in general. Several prominent VCs were revealed for inappropriate behavior relative to gender discrimination and general sexual harassment. It was not a proud moment in the VC and overall tech industry. Techstars cares, deeply, about people. Not just the people at Techstars and in our worldwide network, but about all people. We feel a responsibility as leaders to make sure that we do our best – and help others do their best – to provide safe, comfortable environments for people to grow and work within.

Techstars has been and remains firmly committed to the Code of Conduct that we first introduced in March of 2015. We drive Techstars forward based on our mission to be the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. This means helping each and every entrepreneur succeed no matter their race, gender, age, country of origin or any other attribute.

Every employee at Techstars is employed based on the promise to follow our Code of Conduct and we expect everyone in our network to follow it as well. Recent events have motivated us to renew our commitment to this code and improve our implementation and enforcement of it.

Some examples of new initiatives include:

  • If you are in our network, we are asking that you voluntarily sign our Code of Conduct, today. Going forward, we will require signing our Code of Conduct when you join our network.
  • For all VCs and Investors, we are inviting you, free of charge, to join us in committing to Emtrain’s Decency Pledge by taking a few hours of your time to get educated and informed on best practices on: Preventing Workplace Harassment, Managing Unconscious Bias, and Code of Conduct and Ethics.
  • To make sure that we are as informed as possible, we have added a submission form saysomething.techstars.com and an e-mail address saysomething@techstars.com  for people to use to report any violations they may have experienced or witnessed relating to our Code of Conduct. The form has the option for people to remain anonymous.
  • We are clarifying and improving our existing process of investigations of any issues reported to us.

Please help us continue to ensure that Techstars and the world is a safe, secure place for entrepreneurs to grow, learn and accelerate. We strive to give everyone the best advantage to succeed by #givefirst, acting with integrity and treating everyone with respect.

No one person or company can change the problems that have been revealed – but if we all work together for the good of the whole, we can make big change happen.


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Jenny Lawton Jenny Lawton
A long-time tech leader, Jenny Lawton is the COO of Techstars. Previously, she joined littleBits Electronics, Inc., as chief strategy officer (later promoted to COO), and served as interim CEO of MakerBot, a global leader in the 3D printing industry. @jennylawton







  • Thank you so much for this comforting and warming note! “To be or not to be is not the question, the vital question is how to be and how not to be…” – Abraham Joshua Heschel.