We recently held AMA sessions about applying to an accelerator program. To help answer questions, we had Lesa Mitchell, managing director for Techstars Kansas City, and Jenny Fielding, managing director for Techstars IoT in New York City.
What are common mistakes to avoid when applying to an accelerator?
Jenny: If you send an incomplete application, meaning you don’t put a video of your product and of the founders, that’s going to be really hard for us. You have to understand that we get thousands and thousands of applications, so the first thing we do is look at the founder video. If you don’t put that in, that’s really tough for us. Similarly, the product video is very helpful.
Another common mistake is being very verbose and writing paragraphs and paragraphs. This is not a college essay, this is all about being concise and making your point. I encourage you to think it through. If you tend to be long-winded, then have someone edit it.
Another mistake is the question in the application where it asks if you could list a few competitors, and people say ‘none.’ That always gives me pause, because I’m pretty sure that there are people in the space that you are working in. They may be thinking about it differently, but you need to know your market.
Another thing I would say is that you can wait for the night before, but the thing I would encourage you to do is try to make contact with people that are running these programs before you apply. If you just send in an application, you’ve never been to any of our events and you’ve never had any contact with us, and you send it in the night before, sometimes that’s not the best approach.
Although we look at and read every single application, my strong advice is get to know us before and apply early. That way, as we read them we can get back to you and schedule something or contact you if we see something missing.
Lesa: There is no such thing as being too simple when describing what you’re doing. You want to do it in a way that investors and customers can understand. Keep it as simple as possible in terms of trying to help us understand the problems that you’re solving with your company.
Is it possible to figure out IoT in just a weekend?
Well…maybe not, but IoT and hardware have come a long way since the days where you needed $5M+ just to start a company. With off-the-shelf components readily available and sensors practically everywhere that instantly spit out a steady stream of data, IoT startups can now leverage existing infrastructure to build quickly, test functionality more efficiently, and focus on other things, like building robust software.
This past weekend, Techstars hosted Startup Weekend IoT — and for anyone not familiar with Startup Weekend, you need to stop living under a rock! Last year, 1100 Startup Weekends took place around the world, inspiring thousands of budding entrepreneurs to take action and create!
Here are some themes that emerged from the Startup Weekend IoT edition in New York:
AI and efficiency are on everyone’s brain these days.
One promising team used an AI-enabled plugin to solve the never ending powerpoint slide creation issue. The founder, a longtime management consultant, wasted countless hours creating presentation slides from scratch, having to recreate the design every single time.
Another team created a personal article librarian to solve the problem of having a million open tabs and losing research. The AI bot can automatically search through all the articles and content tagged for easy recall when you need it.
The built environment is the next frontier– at Techstars, we are seeing a lot of emerging startups that are pursuing this vertical.
One team tackled delayed shipments on construction sites with a clever SaaS platform that provides greater transparency on the flow of deliveries and materials.
Health and Wellness
Another team created RFID tags to track patients throughout the check-in, admission and care processes, giving patients more freedom to leave the facility and come back when they can be attended to.
The market opportunity for IoT in AgTech is in the trillions. Need I say more?
One team created an IoT kit and real-time analytics tool to monitor the soil quality for farmers. The collected data can be monetized by insurers and associations. This team even had a live demo, presenting both the hardware and the software components they created over the weekend.
Are you working on an IoT startup? I’d love to hear about it. Applications are currently open for Techstars IoT in New York City, learn more and apply here.
This will be my 8th SXSW. Each year is different and filled with incredible content and new connections. However, I always leave Austin wishing that more of my time was geared towards meeting / helping / interacting with female tech founders. So, this year we decided to host a brunch focused on helping female founders raise capital — a topic I have first hand experience with.
We also curated a list of female-focused events that looks amazing. Now, the usual dilemma of what to attend?!
Women in the Creative Industry Meetup (official — need a badge)
Friday, March 10 – 12:30–1:30
Join the founders of Austin’s own #bossbabesATX and Chicago’s Cliche Collective for an hour of mingling and conversation covering women in the workplace, professional resources for entrepreneurs and goal-mapping for 2017. Following mixer activities, we’ll close with curated discussion, drawing from topics posed by those in attendance.
Austin Women in Tech Social @SX (unofficial, no badge)
Saturday, March 11 – 11:30–1:00
Join ChickTech and Girl Develop it for the second annual Austin Women in Tech Social! Come escape the hustle and bustle of SXSW for a fun lunch overlooking downtown Austin from the wonderful offices of Box.
Underrepresented (and Overachieving) Founders Meet Up (official — need a badge)
Saturday, March 11 – 2:00–3:00p
A meetup for overachieving underrepresented founders and the investors who believe in them. This is an invitation for founders that aren’t normally highlighted in the press and on the portfolios of most VC firms. Maybe you didn’t go to Stanford (maybe you did!). Maybe you haven’t worked at Facebook. Maybe your startup isn’t in Silicon Valley. Maybe most VCs don’t understand the market you’re targeting because they’re not in it themselves. This event,brings together founders that don’t fit the standard mold.
Female Founders Brunch (unofficial, no badge)
Sunday, March 12 – 10:00–12:00p
In Austin for SXSW? Please join us at the Techstars office for a female founders brunch where we will discuss funding opportunities and challenges with VCs including: Nicole Quinn, Partner at Lightspeed Ventures Jenny Fielding Managing Director at Techstars Sara Deshpande, Partner at Mavan Ventures Kerry Rupp, General Partner at True Wealth Ventures.
SXSW Women in Digital Meet Up (unofficial, no badge)
Monday, March 13 4:30–7:00
We Join the most powerful Women in Digital at for our first ever Austin happy hour and mixer. Refresh yourself with a break from the SXSW madness and meet your amazing sisters in arms of Women in Digital.
IEEE Women in Tech Meet Up (official — need a badge)
Monday, March 13 11:00–12:00
Providing sustainable support for women in technology is one of the most talked-about issues in the tech industry. Many corporations and organizations are focused on inspiring girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and on providing support for women in technology to advance in their careers. SXSW serves as the primary annual gathering for the tech industry, with participation from all levels: corporate, start-ups, investors, and tech non-profits, and it just makes sense to provide an opportunity for supporters of women in tech to gather.
Female Investors Talk Investing in Women (official — need a badge) March 13, 2017 12:30 — 1:30p
Data suggests that female investors are better at picking which women-led startups are most likely to be successful. What is it that female investors know that male investors don’t? Leading female venture capitalists and CEOs share what they’ve learned investing in and building successful companies led by women. How do women’s leadership styles and insights meaningfully differ from men’s, and how do you assess a woman’s potential to take a company to a successful exit? Explore the power and potential of gender diversity at the top. Find out the qualities female investors look for in female entrepreneurs, and what makes a great leader in today’s startup environment.
As usual, the time at SXSW will fly by so be sure to hit up a few taco joints, grab a few beers and have a good time. If you have a startup that’s interested in our IoT program in, come say hi by signing up here.
This was originally published on Medium.
When you think about the Irish startup scene, Fintech comes to mind. But Ireland is much more than payments and blockchain, in fact, IoT is starting to gain more ground. Home to Intel, Google, Accenture’s AI Lab, several research institutions and universities as well as having a “reasonable” cost of living (as compared to SF, NYC, and London that is), Dublin is well suited to become a growing IoT hub.
I’m here speaking at the Dublin Tech Summit, a 2-day conference meant to fill the gap that Web Summit left when they departed for sunnier weather. IoT is one of the key themes of the conference with 20+ talks and panels geared towards the topic.
During my time in Dublin, I met with a dozen of IoT startups – at the conference as well as at Dog Patch Labs – and here are a few key themes that emerged:
- Connectivity is still a thing. SiteSpy, a smart sensor powered by renewable energy that allows users to measure the exact location and orientation of objects – super useful for mobile network operators who need to know the exact positioning of their antennae.
- IoT platforms are going strong too. Wia is a cloud platform that enables developers to build IoT apps, and Cesanta uses software libraries and embedded solutions to allow seamless communication between apps, devices, and machines.
- Ag-tech is also big, which makes sense given Ireland’s landscape. Haysaver is a device that analyzes agricultural matter and looks at the nutritional value of feed as well as hay bale combustion, a problem that results in the death of livestock and destruction of food.
This year we are thrilled to welcome back GE, Verizon, SAP and PwC as our corporate partners. And we are pleased to announce an amazing new addition, next47, part of the Siemens family and an established player within the enterprise IoT space, will be joining us.
We have a broad view of IoT and are looking for startups working on enterprise or industrial use cases in the following verticals: Logistics, Smart Cities and Urban Tech, Smart factory and Industry 4.0, Construction Tech and Building Automation, Robotics, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Energy and Sustainable Tech, Wearables and Wellness, Connected Home and Automotive.
Looking Back at our First Year of Techstars IoT
Ten IoT startups from all over the world moved to NYC for three and a half months of mentor-driven awesomeness.
Check out this video for a look back at the program.
The program concluded with IoT day, a one day celebration of all things IoT. Nearly 1000 people participated in the day that included panels, investor pitches, corporate partners and even a job fair. It was incredible to see the NYC IoT community come together and support our companies.
Here are a few highlights from our first IoT class:
- Fueloyal – Sold out the first version of the product; second version of the product is in production.
- Galaxy – Partnered with two major hospitals in the Boston area to receive 300 terabytes of data used to train their algorithms.
- Losant – Announced two major corporate deals: deployed their solution with Verizon and signed a deal with Bosch.
- Mosaic Manufacturing – Breakthrough in splicing technology that enables a higher volume of products to be manufactured.
- Pillar Technologies – Signed 8 paid pilots with the largest general contractors in the US for 2017.
- TEQ – Signed 14 deals with hotel chains and hospitality groups.
- Union Crate – Partnered with PwC and SAP to deliver data insights for their grocery store clients.
- XapiX – Deployed with Air Berlin and signed an enterprise deal with Bosch.
We are going global to find our next class. Our recruiting tour will take us to 12 countries and too many cities to count.
Sign up for office hours and events around the world.
Check out our first IoT Day to see how the NYC community came together to support our companies.
The opportunities in enterprise IoT are limitless. From operational cost savings, to collecting and analyzing data in real-time, IoT provides impactful and sustained value creation. If consumer IoT is big, enterprise and industrial IoT has the potential to morph consumer as legacy players like GE, Siemens and Verizon create society’s infrastructure. From industry 4.0 to energy, smart cities to healthcare, mobility to construction to wireless infrastructure, the verticals that IoT are transforming are limitless. But how?
Last year was an incredible one for IoT with several billion dollar acquisitions of IoT companies by large corporates. In fact, IoT drove a significant percentage of the total M&A activity in tech.
Big players like Verizon, SAP and GE have been gunning to expand their data and analytics capabilities in an effort to monetize their huge data sets. The number of notable IoT acquisition deals has been steadily increasing since 2013, a time when there were only six deals averaging $100M each. And by 2016, there were over 50 IoT acquisitions valued close to $1B each.
The increase in trend signifies IoT’s inevitable dominance in the M&A landscape in the coming years.
So does this mean that the corporates have settled on a buy vs build model? We have seen corporate ventures funds at an all time high coupled with new corporate accelerators like Techstars IoT in partnership with GE, SAP, Bosch, PwC, Verizon and UrbanX in partnership with BMW / Mini among others. But as we know, the challenges with investments and acquisitions lie in the delicate art of integrating with key business units.
Legacy companies must grapple with structural integration without killing a startup’s agile development and culture, while simultaneously protecting its own integrity and objectives.
A handful of our very own corporate partners at Techstars have made several significant acquisitions in the past year. Verizon had a busy year, buying Telogis in June (estimated at $930M), Fleetmatics in August for $2.4B and Sensity Systems in September, and LQD WiFi in November. GE was also busy acquiring Meridium for $495M, BitStew Systems for $207M, as well as Wise.io.
SAP’s acquisition of Plat.One in October was another noteworthy deal that bolstered SAP’s existing software network with an enterprise-grade IoT solution. These deals as well as corporate partnerships with accelerators indicate an obvious demand for enterprise IoT adoption; it’s only a matter of time before other legacy players begin to catch on since the opportunities to facilitate growth and maintain a competitive edge are in plain sight.
Applications for Techstars IoT are open. Apply today.
Navigating investment climates is tough. It’s even tougher in IoT– especially when the tides change so quickly and without much warning. For the past few years, IoT has been on everyone’s hot list, but the good times may be slowing down. And according to CB Insights, corporate venture arms, which represent 5 out of the top 12 major investors in IoT, may also be scaling back funding.
Personally, I don’t buy it. Not a day goes by where a CVC does not reach out to me about our new IoT class. Seems like the money is still flowing in corporate land!
Here’s a look at where Techstars has been investing in IoT:
Rewiring Legacy Industries and Creating the IoT Universe
By 2025, IoT’s yearly economic impact will be more than $10 trillion. Where will we see the majority of that impact? Industries and commercial enterprise.
To tap into this enormous opportunity, Techstars IoT aims to build a new ecosystem for IoT entrepreneurs with a B2B focus.
“While IoT is an exciting space with limitless opportunity, we are still early in that there is no real standardization or infrastructure that benefits everyone.” says Jenny Fielding, the Managing Director of Techstars. “This is why we partnered with GE, Verizon, PwC, Bosch and SAP, to provide a common ground for these industries to come together and help startups innovate.”
The 10 startups selected are rewiring legacy industries and enabling meaningful innovation through IoT. From healthcare to construction, we are proud to announce the future innovators of the B2B space.
Meet this year’s class:
Techstars recently launched a new Internet of Things program in partnership with GE, PwC, Verizon, SAP and Bosch. We are not new to the IoT space, however, having invested in over 70 IoT companies across the Techstars portfolio. With an unprecedented number of IoT applications to the upcoming program, we looked at the data and uncovered trends and insights about startups innovating around IoT.
In 2016 we saw almost a 2X increase in the total number of IoT applications from our last IoT program in 2014. To put this into perspective, IoT applications rivaled those of our other huge verticals such as Healthcare, Fintech and Retail – indicating the strength and continued momentum of IoT. And considering the fact that the latest IoT program only focused on business and industrial companies, we would have received significantly more applications had we included consumer IoT as well.
But trust me, we didn’t just open up applications and hope for the best… we spent a great deal of time from April through June meeting with startups around the globe:
- Over 1400 people attended our information sessions.
- Our team visited 25 cities including Berlin, Reykjavik, Taiwan, Helsinki…
- We met individually with over 150 startups.
Total Application Data:
Some Takeaways from the Data:
- Startups continue to pursue software platforms likely motivated in part by the general frustration and disappointment with standardization and interoperability.
- Health is still an area of interest but in forms other than Wearables. We saw a number of exciting medical devices and room sensors for monitoring patient behavior.
- Cleantech has found new life in IoT! Although the vertical has been out of favor with investors for the past decade, repackaging ‘Cleantech’ as ‘IoT’ may be the facelift it needs.
- IoT on the construction sites is top of mind. First we saw various SaaS solutions working to solve human efficiently. Now, sensors have been added to the mix to track facility progress, worker safety etc.
- Significant decline in the number of drone applications indicates that the unfriendly regulatory environment provides massive friction for drone innovators.
- Logistics and supply chain startups seem to be using off-the-shelf hardware and instead focusing on data aggregation and dashboards and basic machine learning.
- Geographically, there is a huge presence of Industrial IoT companies in parts of Europe (Munich, Germany; Paris, France), although the majority of the applications came from the U.S given our recruiting activities this time around.
- The promise of VR continues to attract passionate founders. No longer just about games, VR startup founders are increasingly technical and trying to solve next generation media issues.
- Throw some AI / ML on it to make it sexy. Loads of bot applications that teeter on the edge of IoT.
- Security was underrepresented in our application pool. Either because we weren’t good at identifying those startups or because there aren’t enough of them. This is a HUGE untapped opportunity.
One Final Note on Diversity:
Although tracking most types of founder diversity requires more thorough research and verified data, our applications indicate that of our top 50 applications, 13 contain a female founder and 24 have at least one non-white male co-founder.
On September 28 we will announce the newest class of Techstars IoT. Stay tuned for that!
We are thrilled to introduce the ten tremendous companies that are joining Techstars for the 2nd annual Barclays Accelerator in New York! Today kicks off the start of a 13-week intense program, capped by a Demo Day in September.
To help guide the companies through the unique FinTech landscape, we’re fortunate to have many of our 2015 alumni on the ground, as well as 100+ incredible mentors from all facets of technology and financial services.
Please join me in welcoming the 2016 Barclays Techstars companies:
acuteIQ – acuteIQ uses artificial intelligence to power customer acquisition throughout the sales cycle leading to a 4x improvement in performance.
Alpha Exchange – Alpha Exchange transforms the way institutional participants interact, share knowledge and discover investment insight by creating the first open network for the capital markets community.
Bloomfield – Bloomfield’s platform for commercial real estate transactions allows brokers to efficiently market deals to lenders and negotiate the best financing package.
Chroma – Chroma is the only platform that enables non-accredited investors to put their money into the local economy using a managed Virtual Private Fund.
Create – Create builds smart 3D maps enriched with millions of data points on the urban environment for investors, brokers, and service providers.
Ernit – Ernit created the world’s first smart piggy to allow modern parents to teach children how to give, save and spend money wisely.
Morty – Morty empowers home-buyers to find the right mortgage with a modern, online, and fully-digital experience.
Painless1099 – Painless1099 simplifies tax season for independent contractors through a smart bank account that eliminates the guesswork from tax savings.
PierceMatrix – PierceMatrix improves company security by identifying and orchestrating the removal of hackers from the network leveraging artificial intelligence to power recommendations.
Windrush – Windrush makes it possible for non-technical employees to bring data to life as fully-responsive, well designed, interactive online documents.