Chowbotics: People Gotta Eat

Today, we’re thrilled to announce our Series A investment in Chowbotics (Austin ‘16), previously Casabots, an amazing company that builds robots that prepare food. You can check out the progress on the first product, Sally the salad making robot below. Go ahead, we’ll wait here.

Whenever we make a major investment, we often fit it into our “people gotta” framework. It’s our little way of ensuring that we’re thinking about investing in big market opportunities. For example, with SendGrid we believe “people gotta email” and with Uber we believe “people gotta get around.” Chowbotics was super obvious for us – “people gotta eat!”

We’ve known Deepak and the team at Chowbotics since they participated in Startup Next and later in Techstars Austin. After the accelerator program, we participated in the seed round. It has been incredible to watch what the team has accomplished with a modest amount of capital. Building robots is hard, but Chowbotics has made consistent progress.

When we recently visited their office, Sally made us salads for lunch.

It was easy for us to see how robots like Sally would be preparing our food in the future.

The automation and speed Sally provides means improved health and sanitation in food preparation, and consumers can have total control over their calories, ingredients and portions.

Today, we’re investing in their $5M Series A round with our friends at Foundry Group. I’m even more excited to be joining the board of the company alongside Jason Mendelson.

Bring on the future of food. Yum!

Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed. Interested in joining the worldwide entrepreneur network? Learn how.








Techstars and YPO Launch Partnership to Support High Growth Entrepreneurship and Innovation

I’m excited to announce that Techstars will be a YPO Entrepreneurship and Innovation Network global partner and the premier partner for YPO’s 2017 global Innovation Week, May 8-12.

Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed, and with over 24,000 members in 130 countries, YPO is the premier leadership organization for chief executives around the world. Its members are involved in many different types of businesses and industries. About one-third of their members lead family businesses, about one-third are entrepreneurs and one-third are hired chief executives. YPO member-run companies employ 15 million people and generate $6 trillion in annual revenue. Our promising startup founders aspire to achieve those same heights.

As a global partner with YPO’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Network, we’ll be able to connect entrepreneurs throughout our worldwide network with YPO resources. The partnership will include content sharing, event coordination and innovation-focused idea exchange. Through joint event opportunities, new enterprises emerging from the Techstars ecosystem will have an opportunity to connect with YPO members globally to help foster opportunities for idea exchange designed to further accelerate innovation.

We’re excited to also be the premier partner for YPO Innovation Week, an event that connects a global community of chief executives in a week-long series of more than 50 events and activities across 30 countries, designed to accelerate innovation in companies and communities.

At Techstars, we source and support the world’s most promising startup founders and help them achieve liftoff through initial investment, business development and mentoring. Those that soar are not only excellent potential business partners for YPO members, but also could be future YPO members.

Techstars partnership in the event will bring unique insights on activity across the global startup ecosystem and enable collaboration across the Techstars and YPO member networks to support high growth entrepreneurship and innovation around the world.

Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed. Interested in joining the worldwide entrepreneur network? Learn how.








Funding and M&A Across the Techstars Ecosystem

It has been an exciting start to 2017 with several notable funding announcements and M&A activity for many Techstars alumni.

Congratulations to:

In addition, here are the companies that have recently received significant investments!  

SalesLoft (Boulder ‘12), a sales engagement software company, announced a $15M Series B round at the end of January to continue to deliver new features and innovation. SalesLoft is based in Atlanta.

Neurala (Boston ‘13), recently raised $14M to build brains for drones and more. The Neurala Brain is a deep learning neural network software that mimics how the human brain works.

Zagster (Boston ‘12), the company that provides bike share programs for cities, universities, businesses and properties recently announced a $10M Series B round. Zagster is based in Cambridge, MA.

Filament (R/GA ‘15), a complete hardware and software ecosystem for building the Internet of Things, raised $9.5M in late February. Filament is based in Reno, NV.

INSPECTORIO (Retail ‘15), uses data and machine learning to improve quality control and bring transparency to supply chains. They announced a $3.7M seed round in early January. INSPECTORIO is based in Minneapolis.

Jiobit (Chicago ‘16), the company that created a wearable to give you peace of mind when it comes to your kid’s location, raised $3M in seed funding to continue to keep kids safe.

AdmitHub (Boston ‘15), announced $2.95M in seed funding to continue to guide students through school. AdmitHub provides virtual college counseling to students and helps colleges connect with prospects.

Hull (Boulder ‘13), the company solving customer data fragmentation, raised $2.6M in late January to become the central hub for all customer data. Hull is based in Atlanta.

Keymetrics (NYC ‘15), raised $2M in early February. Keymetrics is a real-time platform for managing and monitoring NodeJS applications.

Cuvva (Barclays London ‘16), announced £1.5M (~$1.86M) in new funding this past January. Cuvva offers flexible, on-demand car insurance by the hour. Cuvva is based in London.

Sequr (Atlanta ‘16), a SaaS solution for residential and enterprise physical access control, raised $1.75M in their second seed round in mid-January.

Apptentive (Seattle ‘12), a mobile customer engagement software that helps companies listen, engage and retain customers just announced another $1.7M round to continue to grow.

PartySlate (Chicago ‘16), announced a $1.6M raise in late February. PartySlate is an online platform to connect event providers with people looking to host an event.

PenPal Schools (Austin ‘15), raised $1.25M to connect students around the world. PenPal Schools connects classrooms around the world through online exchanges.

Bamba (Austin ‘16), raised $1.1M in mid-February. Bamba helps market research firms and development aid organizations open communication channels to engage mobile subscribers that generally would be considered inaccessible. Bamba is based in Nairobi.

Over the last decade, Techstars has grown a worldwide network with 100 exits, 1000 companies in the portfolio and 10,000 jobs created by those companies. Want to be a part of it? Learn how and apply today!








Congratulations to the Techstars Founders in the Forbes 30 Under 30

We are proud to announce that 19 Techstars’ companies have been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 this year. Companies from Techstars city programs out of London, NY, Boston and Seattle were recognized as well as founders from our corporate programs with Disney, Sprint, R/GA and Qualcomm. A special shout out goes to Zapier, a Startup Weekend alumni, who made the list!

These founders have been called out as the “brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers.” We look forward to seeing more great things from them in 2017, and from all the amazing founders in the Techstars family all across the globe.

THE LIST:

Name

Company

Class

Category

John Wise

Lovepop

Boston ’15

Art & Style

Andre Lorenceau, Saswat Panda

LiveLike VR

NYC ’15

Consumer Tech

Ben Anderson

Amino Apps

Boston ’14

Consumer Tech

Keller Rinaudo

Zipline

Seattle ’11

Consumer Tech

Nate Beatty, Shane Scranton

IrisVR

NYC ’15

Enterprise Tech

Bryan Helmig, Wade Foster, Mike Knoop

Zapier

SW Alumni

Enterprise Tech

Andrew First

Leanplum

Seattle ’12

Enterprise Tech

Peter Johnston

Lystable

London ’14

Enterprise Tech

Matt Salsamendi

Beam

Seattle ’16

Games

Kendall Tucker

Polis

Boston ’16

Law & Policy

Patrick Pittaluga, Sean Warner

Grubbly Farms

NYC ’16

Manufacturing & Industry

Marine Couteau, Ladislas de Toldi

Leka

Sprint ’16

Manufacturing & Industry

Kurt Workman, Jordan Monroe, Zack Bomsta

Owlet Baby Care

R/GA ’13

Manufacturing & Industry

Chad Amonn

Inova Drone

Qualcomm ’15

Manufacturing & Industry

Daniel Altmann, Eric Posen

Naritiv

Disney ’14

Marketing & Advertising

Ricky Ashenfelter

Spoiler Alert

Boston ’16

Social Entrepreneurs

Martin McGloin, Sabine Pole

Sorry as a Service

London ’15

Retail & Ecommerce – Europe

Freddy Macnamara

Cuvva

Barclays UK ’16

Retail & Ecommerce – Europe

Helena Wasserman

Big Data for Humans

London ’14

Technology – Europe

Want to get on the list? Apply to Techstars today.








Expanding our Board of Directors

Techstars is building the best global ecosystem for founders to bring new technologies to market.

The last few years have seen amazing growth for us as we’ve expanded throughout the world. We are now regularly investing in 16 cities in five different countries, and running Startup Weekend, Startup Week, and other community events in over 600 cities and in 168 countries. Our portfolio of accelerator companies has now raised more than $3 billion and is valued at more than $7 billion, and we have seen well over 100 exits by merger or acquisition to date from our portfolio. We’re now managing $300M of our own capital and have been fortunate to be first round investors of companies now worth upwards of $85 billion.

We’re very proud of the team we’ve put together globally. Techstars now consists of 160 people living and working in the locations where we are investing and building startup communities. As we’ve expanded what we do far beyond just running accelerator programs, we decided it was time to rethink our board of directors and bring in some additional expertise.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve added Arthur Lev to our Board of Directors. Arthur is the former Chairman of Morgan Stanley Investment Management as well as a  former Managing Director and the Head of Alternative Investment Partners at Morgan Stanley.

As the Techstars ecosystem becomes more global and has more opportunity to invest in great startup communities around the world, we expect that we’ll soon be able to invest $1B+/year in Techstars portfolio companies. We believe that Arthur will be invaluable in helping us develop the right capital strategies for the long term at Techstars.

We’re also very excited to add Wendy Lea, the CEO of Cintrifuse, to the Board of Directors. As a Techstars mentor since 2007, Wendy understands the value of our mission. In 2016, she was instrumental in bringing the most recent Techstars founder event, FounderCon, to Cincinnati, an emerging startup hub in the midwest. Cintrifuse operates an innovative model that integrates large global companies and the startup community in unique and mutually beneficial ways.

As Techstars continues to bring larger corporations into our global ecosystem, we plan to lean on Wendy for strategies that make this a win-win for founders, startup communities, and corporations with a desire for innovation.

The Techstars Board of Directors now consists of me (David Cohen), David Brown, Mark Solon, Brad Feld, Jason Mendelson, Arthur Lev, and Wendy Lea. As a group, we’re excited to help build the global ecosystem for founders and take Techstars into its second decade.








Techstars Give First Awards 2016

This fall, at our FounderCon conference in Cincinnati, we began a new tradition called the Give First awards. We decided we wanted to recognize founders and mentors from our global network who consistently live this core value of Techstars.

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The idea behind #givefirst is that we try to be helpful without any specific expectation of return and in a non-transactional way. In short, if we can be helpful, then we want to be helpful.

Here are the founders and mentors who we recognized this year for how they live this value.

David Mandell is the co-founder and CEO of PivotDesk (Boulder ‘12) and a Techstars mentor. David shows up and helps at so many Techstars locations. He’s mentored at Patriot Boot Camp (a non-profit we funded early on and helped launch). He shows up at Techstars accelerator programs around the world and meets with companies because he loves being helpful. I suspect that he’s mentored in more locations than any other Techstars mentor. He’s consistently rated as a top mentor at these programs he visits.

John Guydon is the founder and CEO of the Lassy Project (Boulder ‘14). I love working with John because of his “straight talk.” He’s not afraid to tell us how we’re screwing up or how we could do something better on behalf of everyone in the network. At the same time, he’s incredibly generous with his time and a great representative of our alumni.

Rami Essaid is co-founder of Distil Networks (Cloud ‘12) which has grown into a very valuable company. However, just because Rami is the CEO of Distil, he hasn’t forgotten his roots and he is constantly giving back to Techstars by mentoring, hosting alumni gatherings, sponsoring FounderCon, and more.

Thanks to everyone in the network for all that you do. Learn more about Give First in this video.








Funding and M&A Activity Across the Techstars Ecosystem

As we near the end of 2016, many Techstars’ alumni are celebrating exciting funding news from the past few months.

Congratulations to:

We are now well over 100 Techstars accelerator companies that have been acquired. Those gold shirts are really adding up!

In addition, here are the companies that have recently received significant investments.

sendgrid

SendGrid (Boulder ‘09), a leading delivery platform for customer communication that drives engagement and growth, recently raised $33M in Series D funding.

leanplum

Leanplum (Seattle ‘12), a complete mobile marketing platform, announced a $29M Series C round in mid-October.

zipline

Zipline (Seattle ‘11), recently raised $25M in Series B funding. Zipline builds drones and delivers crucial medical supplies to remote locations that are not accessible by land.

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Amino Apps (Boston ’14), announced a raise of $19M in Series B this December. Amino Apps is a mobile only platform for passionate niche communities.

owlet

Owlet (R/GA ‘13), the creator of the Owlet Smart Sock, a baby monitor that allows parents to better understand their child’s health needs, recently raised $15M to continue product development and clinical studies.

ovia

Ovia (Boston ‘12), recently announced a $10M raise to become the leading provider of women’s health apps. Ovia (formerly Ovuline) is a fertility monitoring tool for women who want to maximize their chance to get pregnant.

irisvr

IrisVR (NYC ‘15), the company that allows architects and designers to turn their 3D plans and blueprints into virtual reality experiences, raised $8M in Series A funding in late October.

lovepop

Lovepop (Boston ‘15), raised a $6M Series A in late November. Lovepop creates laser-cut 3D paper designs inside a seemingly normal greeting card.

stasislabs

Stasis Labs (Healthcare ‘16), the company that built a health monitoring system that allows doctors to catch declining patients and intervene before a critical event, raised $5M in seed funding in mid-November.

apptentive

Apptentive (Seattle ’12), a Seattle-based mobile customer engagement software company, recently raised $3.6M round to help hire new employees.

ravelin

Ravelin (Barclays London ‘15), raised £3M (~$3.6M) in Series A funding this past October. Ravelin provides fraud detection for the on-demand economy.

spoileralert

Spoiler Alert (Boston ‘16), the Boston-based startup focused on eliminating food waste recently raised $2.5M. Spoiler Alert offers an online platform that enables food businesses to manage surplus and organic waste.

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Spatial (Mobility ‘16), a location api that uses artificial intelligence to answer questions only a local would know, recently raised $2M.

garmentory

Garmentory (Seattle ‘14), a boutique fashion e-commerce platform, raised $2M in late November to take on larger retailers. Garmentory hosts an online marketplace that connects boutiques and designers with customers.

stylesage

StyleSage (Austin ‘15), recently raised $2M in seed funding to help amplify sales and expand into other markets. StyleSage helps fashion brands and retailers maximize sales and and optimize merchandising and planning using data-driven insights.

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Maxwell Financial (Boulder ’16), the company that is reinventing how the $8.5T residential mortgage industry works, raised $1.95M in funding to continue to recruit top engineering talent in Denver.

logicgate

LogicGate (Chicago ‘16), empowers businesses to transform disorganized risk and compliance processes into enterprise-grade applications without writing a single line of code. They recently raised a $1.9M seed round.

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Codementor (Seattle ‘13), an on-demand marketplace for software developers, recently announced a $1.6M raise. Codementor connects you with experienced mentors for instant coding help via screen sharing, video and text chat.

blueprint

Blueprint Registry (Retail ‘16), announced a $1M seed round this past November. Blueprint Registry is an innovative life-event registry platform where you can shop or register for products based on your home’s blueprint.

remesh

Remesh (Barclays NYC, ‘15), an enterprise platform that uses artificial intelligence to turn collective wisdom into intuitive, decision-making data in real time. Remesh raised $1M in early November to continue to expand.

Don’t miss your chance to join a Techstars accelerator program – Apply today.








Techstars Foundation Announces Second Round of Grantees

The Techstars Foundation is pleased to announce our second round of grantees who are committed to improving the landscape of diversity in tech.

We received hundreds of grant requests. The creative initiatives and thought leadership related to diversity in technology entrepreneurship is truly awesome. The work that these organizations are doing on this important issue is creating real change and building stronger communities around the world. We thank you all for the work you do.

The mission of the Techstars Foundation is to provide grants and resources to organizations making a scalable impact in diversity in tech entrepreneurship. This group of grantees encompasses a wide spectrum of underserved entrepreneurs, including female and minority entrepreneurs from underserved backgrounds, students of color and immigrant founders.

The organizations receiving financial grants and further assistance from the Techstars Foundation are:

c4q

Coalition for Queens (C4Q) increases economic opportunity through technology and transforms the world’s most diverse community into a leading hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. We believe that people from every community — across gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds — should have the opportunity to learn to code, gain jobs in tech, and create the companies of the future.

profile_pic

The Global EIR Coalition expands economic opportunities through partnering international entrepreneurs, universities, and cities to promote job creation, grow local economies, and build their businesses throughout the United States.

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Student Dream trains collegiate students of color to start companies. Driven by a vision to create wealth in communities of color, Student Dream runs semester long programs and a membership platform that connects aspiring Black, Hispanic, and Native American student entrepreneurs to training, mentorship, and industry opportunities needed to succeed.

An instructor from Coalition for Queens teaching a class
An instructor from Coalition for Queens teaching a class

 

Student Dream participants during an entrepreneurship event
Student Dream participants during an entrepreneurship event

 

A Global EIR working with University of Colorado student during a session of the Global Entrepreneurs in Residence Program.
A Global EIR working with a University of Colorado student during a session
 

Along with the financial  support, Techstars will leverage our broad global network of mentors, alumni and investors to provide additional support to these organizations. If you would like to learn more about these organizations or get involved, please contact: foundation@techstars.com.

Thank you again to our generous donors who have made these grants possible. We continue to encourage 100 percent participation from our network to help support this cause. Every dollar counts.  

If Techstars accelerators, staff, mentors or startup programs such as Startup Weekend and Startup Digest have helped you in some small way, please consider a donation of any amount to help improve diversity in tech entrepreneurship.

We look forward to making a difference in diversity in technology entrepreneurship together, through the above partnerships and with your support.








Don’t Go Dark

I’ve had a couple of situations lately where a portfolio company founder or CEO went dark on me. They just stopped communicating.

Sometimes it takes me a while to notice it. When I do, I usually check in with the person and just ask something like “Hey – I haven’t heard from you in a while, how’s it going?”

Sometimes the response is benign, and all is more or less ok with the company and people in question. Perhaps they’ve just forgotten to update their investors for a while, or it’s been a particularly busy time for some other reason. In those cases, my checkin serves as a gentle reminder.

Other times, as you might expect, it’s more of a doomsday scenario. They went dark because stuff wasn’t working. There was nothing good to tell their investors about, so they just said nothing. It’s been a long time. Now the company is out of money, out of options, and the person just doesn’t know what to do next. “Any ideas?” they ask.

“Not at this point” I think to myself. With no runway left they’re out of cash already and living off the founders credits cards. All the employees are gone. They forgot to update investors along the way, so there’s no way to help at this point except coach them on how to shut down gracefully.

Don’t let this happen to you! Communicate bad news early – you might be surprised at how your investors can jump in and help.

As an example, Techstars now has a large full-time team just working on corporate development and M&A. We’ve completed over 100 M&A transactions, and we probably could have helped create some kind of positive outcome if we only knew you were in trouble earlier.

At Techstars, we’ve put systems in place now to see who we’re not hearing from regularly so that we can be proactive. But most angel and seed investors don’t have systems like this.

When stuff goes badly, don’t go dark. It’s a huge mistake for so many reasons.

This was originally published on David’s blog.








Diversity at Techstars Companies: 2016 Update

Last year Techstars announced our diversity commitment as part of White House Demo Day. As a follow up to that commitment, we are now reporting on our progress and publishing our diversity data annually. During 2016, we’ve tracked participation in our accelerator programs and have made measurable progress to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities within our applicant pool, mentors, and staff.

Here is a recap of what we are doing to improve inclusive entrepreneurship:

  • We created the Techstars Foundation to improve diversity in tech entrepreneurship worldwide, through grants to mission-driven organizations such as Defy Ventures, Astia, Change Catalyst, Gaza Sky Geeks, and Patriot Boot Camp.
  • We partnered with Chase for Business to survey ~700 startup founders about diversity and inclusion at their startup. The output includes a research report highlighting the data from that survey as well as a website which provides actionable resources startup founders can take to improve diversity at their startup.
  • We’ve trained staff on unconscious bias, are working to offer this training to our portfolio companies, and we’ve implemented processes to ensure that every selection committee includes at least two women.

Our specific diversity commitment last year was to:

Double the number of women in our accelerator program applicant pool and across our mentor network over four years. Track participation in our programs by underrepresented minorities and double that from the baseline over the same time period.

This year will serve as our baseline and we will update these numbers annually. Here’s how we’re doing so far:

2016

2017

2018

2019

Ethnically diverse founders

25%

TBD

TBD

TBD

Female founders/participants

19%

TBD

TBD

TBD

Female mentors

18%

TBD

TBD

TBD

  • Twenty five percent of our US-based founders are ethnically diverse (non-white).
  • Nineteen percent of our founders and program participants are female.
  • For many of our US-based accelerator programs (including Sprint, Retail, Healthcare, IoT and Connection) nearly 20 percent of the companies who applied had at least one female founder.
  • Eighteen percent of our mentors are female and 18 percent are ethnically diverse.
  • For our global Startup Programs, we’ve increased our gender diversity to 33 percent female attendees.
While we are glad to see our efforts are beginning to pay off, we’ve still got a very long way to go. We want to thank those of you who have helped with these efforts over the last year, and who will continue with us on this journey.
Startup Founders: to learn more about how to improve diversity and inclusion at your company, please visit our microsite for specific resources that will help you become a diversity leader.