Apply to Techstars: Chicago, NYC and London Summer 2016 Programs Now Accepting Applications

Applications are now open for three Techstars programs: Techstars Chicago, Techstars NYC and Techstars London!

Apply now for your chance to be part of the “Techstars for Life” network with access to more than 3,000 mentors, founders and investors. The deadline to apply is March 20, 2016.

Watch this short video to see how Techstars is for startups of every stage. (And don’t forget to check out our FAQs which will answer many questions about the application process.) 

Apply today!








One Entrepreneur’s Journey: Jon Rossi

Meet Jon Rossi: Founder and CEO of MyDealerService. Jon is one example of a passionate founder who has experienced the Techstars network in many different ways – through our Startup Programs (Startup Week, Startup WeekendStartup Next) as an attendee, organizer, facilitator and mentor, and as an alumni of the Techstars Mobility program in Detroit. Jon has been a part of over 30 Techstars events!

Check out this video to learn about one entrepreneur’s journey through the Techstars network.

 

Apply today!

 








Nestio Founder: Surround Yourself with Good People

Techstars alum Nestio (NYC ’11), a residential real estate platform, recently announced $8 million in Series A funding. The company, led by co-founder and CEO Caren Maio (who was named by Inc. magazine as one of the Top 15 Women to Watch in Tech), originally launched as a tool for renters, but it is now responsible for originating half of New York City’s rental listings.

Check out this video to learn more about how this startup learned what it takes to build a successful company:

 








Get Backed: Tips on Funding Your Startup #2

Welcome to the second post in our series on the new book for entrepreneurs, Get Backed, which includes new ideas on how to raise capital and build genuine relationships with investors.  Everyone from first-time entrepreneurs to seasoned veterans will find useful, practical advice from other founders in this book authored by Techstars Austin mentor, Evan Loomis, and entrepreneur Evan Baehr.

This book + workbook offers in-the-trenches, real-world advice with heaps of helpful data, charts, photos, slides and actual examples of the most important things that every founder needs to know.

Get Backed
Chapter Six excerpt: Actual Pitch Decks

You’re about to see what only venture capitalists and investors typically get to see: excerpts from the actual pitch decks and fundraising strategies of fifteen successfully funded startups. For this chapter, we profile ventures from across multiple sectors, stages, and cities. Combined, these ventures have raised well over $100 million.

We debated whether to include this chapter at all; people find it nerve-racking to show their investor decks. But in the spirit of giving back, the founders featured here have chosen to offer you something that they normally never show anyone. We are deeply grateful for their commitment to advancing entrepreneurship.

As these profiles illustrate, when it comes to fundraising, there is no one-size-fits-all template, but there are patterns and principles to identify. Aside from the founders’ own comments and advice, we let their decks speak for themselves.

Drum roll please . . . Here are the strategies and materials of fifteen ventures that crushed it at raising money.

DocSend • DocSend tells you what happens to your documents after you send them.

Founding team: Russ Heddleston, Dave Koslow, Tony Cassanego
Location: San Francisco, CA
Funding round: Series seed
Market category: Software

Armed with computer science degrees from Stanford and experience working at companies like Facebook and Dropbox, Russ Heddleston, Tony Cassanego, and Dave Koslow founded DocSend, a service that tracks everything that happens to a document after you share it. The service became a hit among people sharing pitch decks themselves. DocSend’s deck is heavy on copy and uses neutral colors to avoid drawing attention away from the words.

Advice
“Focus on your strengths. Be sure to tell investors why you’re different and be sure to bring something unique to the table. This could be a hundred interviews with potential customers, it could be 10,000 signups, or it could be your background of ten years building machine learning software.”

Redo
“The design on this deck is atrocious. Our newer deck looks a ton better. We also have a lot more detail on our target user.”

Slide Investors Focused on Most
“The team slide was viewed the longest on average, followed by the competition slide.”

Common Mistakes Founders Make
“It’s all about quality, not quantity. Create a list of thirty investors who you actually want to meet with. Set up at least twenty meetings in a two-week period. Do this at least a few weeks out. If you can’t get any of those twenty to invest, you need to change something before you try again.”

Untitled
12

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of your Dreams. Copyright 2015 Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis. All rights reserved.

Learn more about Get Backed

About the Authors
Get Backed isn’t just about startup fundraising. It’s a handbook for anyone who has an idea and needs to build relationships to get it off the ground.

Over the last 3 years, entrepreneurs Evan Loomis and Evan Baehr have raised $45 million for their own ventures, including the second largest round on the fundraising platform AngelList. In Get Backed, they show you exactly what they and dozens of others did to raise money—even the mistakes they made—while sharing the secrets of the world’s best storytellers, fundraisers, and startup accelerators. They’ll also teach you how to use “the friendship loop”, a step-by-step process that can be used to initiate and build relationships with anyone, from investors to potential cofounders. And, most of all, they’ll help you create a pitch deck, building on the real-life examples of 15 ventures that have raised over $150 million.

 








Funding and M&A Activity Across the Techstars Ecosystem

As we head into the holiday season, we’d like to share a final funding roundup for 2015.
funding
Congratulations to these Techstars companies that were recently acquired:

Also, a big high five to the Techstars alumni companies below that have recently received notable* investments!  

This brings us to a total of 90% of Techstars companies active or acquired and over $2B raised by our accelerator companies. Congrats to all!

ClassPass (NYC ’12), the NY-based company that gives you access to fitness classes across multiple gyms and studios, has announced a raise of $30M in venture capital.
Newsela (Kaplan ‘13), the company that automatically gives each reader the level of a daily news article that’s just right for his or her reading ability, recently raised $15M in Series B. 
LISNR (R/GA ’15) raised a $10M Series B round led by Intel Capital. LISNR is the creator of SmartTones, a new technology that sends data over audio.
Outreach (Seattle ’11), a service that provides enterprise sales organizations with a communication framework, announced that it has raised a $9.2M Series A round.
Amino (Boston ‘14), a company that seeks to connect like-minded individuals and create a close-knit community for every interest, raised $6.5M in Series A funding.
GeoSpock (London ‘14), has recently raised $5.3M in Series A funding. GeoSpock enables companies to organize their Big Data with a geospatial cloud platform. 
SkySpecs (R/GA ’15), is a company that provides drones to inspect things like wind turbines, bridges and other infrastructure projects. The company closed a $3M funding round from investors earlier this month. 
Chargifi (R/GA ‘15) has raised $2.7M Series A funding at the Intel Capital Global Summit 2015. Chargifi is a wireless charging network provider giving people access to power for mobile devices where and when they need it most.
Skilljar (Seattle ’13) has raised $2.6M in a funding round led by Trilogy Equity Partners. Skilljar is an online training platform that enables any business to create and deliver online courses.
Hullabalu (NYC ’14), an interactive storytelling app for kids, received $2.5M to continue to develop their product and technology. 

*notable = $2M or more.








Get Backed: Tips on Funding Your Startup #1

We are excited to announce a new book for entrepreneurs from Techstars Austin mentor, Evan Loomis, and entrepreneur Evan Baehr. Their new book, Get Backed, includes new ideas on how to raise capital and build genuine relationships with investors. Everyone from first-time entrepreneurs to seasoned veterans will find useful, practical advice from other founders in this book.

Over the next few weeks, we will release short excerpts from Get Backed on the Techstars blog including how to build the perfect pitch deck, a primer on startup financing, and insider tips on how to cultivate a relationship with investors. This book + workbook offers in-the-trenches, real-world advice with heaps of helpful data, charts, photos, slides and actual examples of the most important things that every founder needs to know – all in a clean, easy to read format.

Check out the first excerpt today and stay tuned for more!

Get Backed

Chapter Two excerpt: The Building Blocks of a Pitch Deck

The building blocks of a pitch deck are the slides. Slides are like the panels of a comic strip; they break down the story of your venture into discrete digestible chunks. Each slide highlights a different aspect of the venture and furthers the plot of the pitch. Eventually, you’ll have a whole archive of slides to draw from and sequence for each meeting or presentation. These are the essential ten (not including your cover page):

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.15.01 PM

Cover

What should I expect?

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.21.32 PM

What is it?

The cover slide captures the audience’s attention, sets the tone for the pitch, and serves as “white space” during a presentation so you can express gratitude for your audience’s time, show your passion for your venture, and build trust by mentioning mutual connections.

What should I demonstrate?

  • Clean logo. Your logo is the face of your brand; it can be very important to your overall image.
  • Inviting picture. You might include an engaging picture of your product or customer.
  • Descriptive title. Put “Investor Briefing” or “Investor Presentation” somewhere on the front cover with the date. Dates help you keep track of different versions.

What questions do I need to answer?

  • Does the cover make you want to open the pitch deck?
  • Does the cover visual communicate what the product is or who it serves?

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of your Dreams. Copyright 2015 Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis. All rights reserved.

—-

Learn more about Get Backed


About the Authors
Get Backed isn’t just about startup fundraising. It’s a handbook for anyone who has an idea and needs to build relationships to get it off the ground.

Over the last 3 years, entrepreneurs Evan Loomis and Evan Baehr have raised $45 million for their own ventures, including the second largest round on the fundraising platform AngelList. In Get Backed, they show you exactly what they and dozens of others did to raise money—even the mistakes they made—while sharing the secrets of the world’s best storytellers, fundraisers, and startup accelerators. They’ll also teach you how to use “the friendship loop”, a step-by-step process that can be used to initiate and build relationships with anyone, from investors to potential cofounders. And, most of all, they’ll help you create a pitch deck, building on the real-life examples of 15 ventures that have raised over $150 million.








Demo Day Round Up: Fall 2015

The show never stops at Techstars! Last month was busy for Techstars Accelerator Programs with FIVE Demo Days across the globe in October. From Disney and Seattle on the west coast, to Chicago and Barclays NYC on the east coast, and across the pond to London, Techstars celebrated the addition of 52 new companies! Here’s a quick review of what went down:

Disney Class of 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 7.15.52 PM

It was the second year for the Disney Accelerator led by Managing Director, Cody Simms, and as expected, the class produced some jaw-dropping products. Open Bionics stole the show with their 3-D printed robotic arms for amputees, designed for children in hero versions including Iron Man, Star Wars and Frozen, for which Disney granted royalty-free licensing and will match 1-for-1 (buy one and a second one is given to a child in need). All founders’ pitches were well received as the audience learned about solutions for bioinformatics, video content, AMAs on Twitter, A.I. and more.

Congratulations to the Disney class of 2015!

 

Chicago Class of 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 7.17.53 PM

The show must go on! Confronted with the unforeseen scheduling conflict of the Cubs in the World Series playoffs, the Chicago program powered through for a successful demo day despite the distraction. The companies, led during program by MDs Troy Henikoff and Brian Luerssen, delivered their polished pitches to a room full of investors, supporters, and mentors in the beautiful House of Blues. This year marks the sixth Chicago class, who come from diverse backgrounds and span a number of industries from advertising and fin tech to tech-enabled pet care.

Congratulations to the Chicago class of 2015!

 

Barclays NYC Class of 2015

_COR4421

Barclays NYC Demo Day took place at the recently unveiled Rise FinTech laboratory. Founders took the stage in front of an enthusiastic crowd of close to 500 attendees. The mood was energetic as companies pitched their ideas around blockchain, cybersecurity, microlending and more. Led by MD Jenny Fielding, the class of 2015 saw a quick rush of investments. Within just a few days, Barclays announced it signed contracts with eight of the companies who participated in the bank’s first-ever New York City fintech accelerator.

Congratulations to the Barclays NYC class of 2015!

 

Seattle Class of 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 7.18.56 PM

Techstars Seattle’s Demo Night, held at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) showcased eleven companies built around the region’s core centers of excellence, from cloud infrastructure and e-commerce to gaming and Enterprise SaaS. Techstars MD, Chris DeVore, was joined by Techstars Managing Partner, David Brown, and the former President & Co-Founder of Concur, Rajeev Singh, to open the night and introduce the companies to the world. It was an exciting night to celebrate the Seattle startup community!

Congratulations to the Seattle class of 2015!

 

London Class of 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 7.19.25 PM

Techstars London Demo Night, held at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, debuted eleven companies from all over the world. The group is a diverse mix of entrepreneurs from five countries, including Estonia, the Czech Republic, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Managing Director, Max Kelly, kicked off the fourth London Demo Day along with Managing Partners, David Brown and Mark Solon. The companies delivered excellent pitches for their technology solutions for customer retention, collaboration, cancer survivors, personal security, 3D printing and much more.

Congratulations to the London class of 2015!

Does your startup have what it takes? Apply to Techstars today! 

 








FounderCon 2015: The Power of the Network

Techstars’ annual founder conference, FounderCon 2015: Back to Our Roots, took place a few weeks ago in Boulder. Close to 700 Techstars’ alumni, staff, and mentors descended on Colorado from all over the world to network, do business together, learn from each other and have fun. Over three days, we had panels on how to close a deal, hiring for culture fit, diversity in tech, M&A, how to find funding, success stories, founder burnout and much more. BizDev Day offered a huge opportunity for founders to meet with executives of over 40 big brands (Google, Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Target, Sprint, etc.) to talk partnerships. We also had two bands, a circus, happy hours, hikes, a schwag swap and late night games of Werewolf!

Why do we do this? Because Techstars is committed to building a powerful global network to support founders on their entrepreneurial journey. The Techstars’ ecosystem includes more than 7,000 founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners, and more than 8,000 community leaders who work together to create a worldwide network of support for founders. Our FounderCon event is one way we connect this network and strengthen our amazing community: Techstars is for life.

Big thanks to the sponsors who made it all possible: Sprint, Distil Networks, Localytics and SendGrid! And a shout out to our very own John Hill and Jacqueline Hughes for a phenomenal event — which was powered by a super cool community app that allowed everyone to know where they needed to be and to easily communicate with each other.

Check out the video below to see what it was like to be at FounderCon 2015. Want to be a part of it? Apply to Techstars today. 








The Power of the Network: Techstars Alums Naritiv + Sphero Work Together on Innovative Snapchat Campaign

A few weeks ago, we covered the story of how two Techstars alumni, Sphero and Naritiv (both from Disney accelerator ‘14), worked together on the launch of BB-8™, the App-Enabled Droid by Sphero, based on the character from the upcoming Star Wars™ film. Sphero was looking for a partner — who could move at the speed of startup — to tell their story globally. They found that in Naritiv, who brought the technology, analytics and Snapchat expertise to lead the campaign and measure its success.

“Our marketing is completely intentional to what we want people to see, feel, and experience,” explains Ross Ingram, Head of Community & Marketing Programs at Sphero. “Everything starts with a story.”

IMG_1741

The companies joined forces to launch a new platform for the Sphero brand using Snapchat to create more meaningful human interactions and shared experiences. For this campaign, they built creative content by capturing the excitement of the global Force Friday event with Snapchat influencers in Paris, London, Dublin, New York, and San Francisco, as well as Sphero team members snapchatting in Tokyo, Milan, and Chicago, launching BB-8 into the world.

Check out the campaign highlights:

  • 10.3m views in just over 24 hours
  • 69.1m seconds watched
  • In the total number of seconds watched, you could watch all six Star Wars movies 1,445 times!
  • The Snapchat Stories extended the conversation to other social platforms bringing nearly a half a million additional fan engagements.
  • Check out the Sphero Force Friday Snapchat Recap in these fun video highlights and read more in this Wall St. Journal article!

Congratulations to Naritiv, Sphero and Disney on such a successful collaboration!

IMG_1729








A Discussion of Accelerators with Brad Feld & Ian Hathaway

The economist Ian Hathaway recently interviewed Brad Feld, Techstars co-founder and Managing Director of the Foundry Group, about the startup accelerator phenomenon.

In this video discussion, they cover the origin of accelerators, startup communities, seed stage investing, immersive education, the downside of learning by doing, and the value of mentorship. Brad offers best practice tips for accelerators around mentor dynamics, program rhythm, and investor engagement. He also explains how founder stress and conflict can help to build the muscle which eventually helps startups succeed.

If you’ve been through an accelerator, are a mentor to an accelerator program, or are interested in what’s important around accelerators — check it out.