Introducing the 2017 Class of Techstars Atlanta, in partnership with Cox Enterprises

We are excited to announce the ten companies that will be joining Techstars Atlanta, in partnership with Cox Enterprises. We kicked things off last week on July 10 and are looking forward to three months of awesomeness, capped off by Demo Day on October 10. This is the second class of our program in Atlanta, Georgia.

Techstars is the Worldwide Network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and strong partners and mentors help make this happen. We’re grateful for your support over the last couple of years and your continued time and guidance. We couldn’t do it without you.

We love this city and know 2017 is going to be an amazing year for both Techstars and Atlanta.

Here are the 2017 companies for Techstars Atlanta, in partnership with Cox Enterprises:

2ULaundry | Charlotte, NC | On-demand laundry and dry cleaning services.

Bloveit | Atlanta, GA | Curated date night experiences.

Collider Tech | Chattanooga, TN | Stand-alone, end-to-end additive manufacturing technology.

Farmcrowdy | Lagos, Nigeria | Crowdfunding for small-scale agriculture.

Fraudmarc | Atlanta, GA | Cyber security service aimed at protecting corporate identity.

Landing Lion | Atlanta, GA | Landing pages for the modern marketer.

MoQuality | Atlanta, GA | AI platform for mobile QA.

TheMonetizr | Riga, Latvia | In-game monetization platform for merchandise purchases.

Rapid RMS | Chattanooga, TN | Retail POS system for fuel service stations and convenience stores.

Vlipsy | Canton, OH | Video clip soundboard.








Techstars Atlanta: World Tour 2017

Where in the world is Techstars Atlanta? That’s the question of the hour as we kick off the search for our 2017 class of entrepreneurs.

Break Out Your Atlas

Over the coming months the Techstars Atlanta team will cross the globe looking for the most promising entrepreneurs to join our 2017 class.

With events across the US, Canada, Israel and Nigeria, our passports will be getting quite the workout as we are graciously welcomed to visit international entrepreneurs on their own turf, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So where in the world will we be? We’re visiting:

  • Our southeastern neighbors: As the only Techstars program in the southeastern US, we want to make sure we represent our home. That’s why we have events scheduled for Atlanta, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Nashville and Chattanooga.
  • North American tech hubs: We’ll also extend our continental travel north and west as we hit Toronto and Waterloo in Canada and Provo and Salt Lake City in Utah. We’ve seen firsthand the tech scenes exploding in these cities, and we can’t wait to build relationships with the phenomenal talent behind this growth.
  • International trailblazers: Finally, we’re crossing oceans to host events in Nigeria and Israel, two countries with longstanding entrepreneurial spirits, global mindsets and histories of inventing technology that knows no borders.

 

Searching Far and Wide with a Distinct Purpose

When we started searching for our inaugural class last year, I emphasized that we were casting a wide net. This year the net has grown wider and deeper and, dare I say it, our expectations have gotten even higher.

Building on the Success of 2016

Although 2016 was the inaugural year for Techstars Atlanta, we set the bar high for future classes. In the few short months since the program ended, the companies that participated have gone on to raise millions of dollars in venture funding and have already made amazing strides.

We were fortunate to have an incredibly geographically diverse class last year, but in 2017 we have even broader ambitions (after all, what type of example would we set if we didn’t bend over backwards to improve?).

Founders First

While market size, business model, traction, and many other considerations are important, founders will be the most important item on our minds this year as we consider applications to join the 2017 class of Techstars Atlanta.

Throughout our experience building and mentoring companies both inside and outside of Techstars, one thing has proven itself to be true time and again: The successes, failures and prospects of early stage companies are largely defined by their founders.

We plan to take this lesson to heart as we look for tenacious founders with authentic narratives. With that in mind, we’ll put the spotlight on founders by asking question like: Why are you the right person to build this company? And how have you proven you’re up to the challenge?

And it’s not just founders’ individual backgrounds and skills that matter. It’s also the gel of the entire team. The best teams come when people who have had a relationship for years — whether professionally or socially — join forces, not when they meet in a “co-founder speed dating session.”

Finding the Best, Regardless of Vertical

Finally, we’re a horizontal program, and that means we’ll be searching for companies that represent a broad set of industries and technologies. In other words, when we say we’re looking for the best, we mean companies that have unique ideas that they can take to a defensible position in a large market — any market — not just the best in a specific vertical or technology market.

And because we’re backed by the combination of a terrific partnership with Cox Enterprises (and all its resources in media, automotive and communications) and the landscape of Atlanta (with its booming fintech, cybersecurity and martech scene), we’re more than confident that we can provide valuable support in numerous ways for companies of all kinds.

Techstars Atlanta is Coming to a City Near You

So when all is said and done, what does the ideal candidate for the 2017 Techstars Atlanta class look like? It’s a company founded by driven and dedicated people with an authentic connection to the problem they’re solving. It’s a company that takes a unique approach and can build a defensible position in a large market. It’s a company that knows the importance of filling its ranks with the right people.

It could be you.

Do you think you have what it takes? If so, we can’t wait to meet you! Join us at one of our upcoming events and leave a lasting impression. Check out the full list below:

Date

Location

Registration Link

February 6, 2017

Birmingham, AL

RSVP

February 7, 2017

Jacksonville, FL

RSVP

February 16, 2017

Cincinnati, OH

Request Office Hours

February 24, 2017

Atlanta, GA –

Morehouse/Spelman/CAU

RSVP

March 1, 2017

Lagos, Nigeria

RSVP

March 1, 2017

Salt Lake City, UT

RSVP

March 2, 2017

South Jordan, UT

RSVP

March 9, 2017

Nashville, TN

RSVP

March 10, 2017

Chattanooga, TN

RSVP

March 13, 2017

Toronto, Ontario

RSVP

March 14, 2017

Waterloo, Ontario

RSVP

March 16, 2017

Atlanta, GA –

Techstars Office

RSVP

March 22, 2017

Tel Aviv, Israel

RSVP








Presenting the 2016 Class of Techstars Atlanta, in Partnership with Cox Enterprises

We are excited to announce the ten companies that will be joining Techstars for our 2016 Techstars program in Atlanta, Georgia. We kicked things off this morning with a gathering of members from the Atlanta startup community and from our corporate partner, Cox Enterprises, at the Techstars Atlanta Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, and are looking forward to three months of awesomeness, capped off by Demo Day on November, 1st at The Tabernacle. Save the date!

This is the inaugural Techstars program in Atlanta, and we’re fortunate to have an incredible pool of over 90 mentors from the Atlanta community, the Cox network, and Techstars alumni from other programs. Thank you, mentors! We’re grateful for your support of our new program, and your time and guidance. We couldn’t do it without you.

Atlanta_Techstars_Banner_web
Techstars Atlanta: applications from all over the world. 

 

We love this city and know that 2016 is going to be an amazing year for both Techstars and Atlanta.

Without further ado, here are the Techstars Atlanta Summer 2016 companies:

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Bark Technologies (Savannah, GA): Bark protects children by detecting messages that contain cyberbullying, sexting and signs of depression or suicidal thoughts using NLP and machine learning techniques to maintain a child’s privacy and preventing parents from having to spend hours reading their activity.

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Drizzle (Los Angeles, CA): Drizzle gives website owners an incredibly easy way to let their visitors pay for premium content. You can choose to charge a-la-carte for your content, or offer your visitors a subscription to access all of your content.

Optimized-Fitspot

Fitspot (Los Angeles, CA): Trying to cram a workout into your busy schedule? Fitspot lets you book one-on-one sessions with certified fitness trainers when and where you want. Plan ahead – or start in as little as 30 minutes.

Joonko

Joonko (Tel Aviv, Israel): Identify and solve gender bias in your workplace, as it happens!

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LaaSer (Atlanta, GA): Thousands of lives are lost each year due to incorrect location information being sent to 911 operators over existing mobile phone network technology. Calls are often routed to the wrong jurisdiction, address and latitude and longitude information are often wrong or not provided at all, and people lose their lives or suffer more than they had to as a result. Our company and our products were created for the sole purpose of solving this problem.

preesale

Preesale (Brussels, Belgium): Multiply your sales channels by increasing your tickets sales on Facebook. Easily connect your Facebook app to your Facebook page, create your tickets in less than 5 minutes and sell to targeted customers, and promote your events on Facebook – the best platform to target your attendees.

Real Meal Delivery_Final Logo_01

Real Meal Delivery (Atlanta, GA): Skip the stress of meal planning and grocery shopping! Fresh, made-from-scratch meals are prepared daily by our chef. Just order by 4PM and let your family enjoy the hot, fresh food delivered to your door.

logoSequr

Sequr (Atlanta, GA): Sequr is the first ever visitor management system for communities using call boxes. They increase security by replacing permanent PIN codes with dynamic, time-sensitive PIN codes. The best thing about Sequr? They can do remote setup on any callbox anywhere in the world.

splitty-logo-book-differentx5

Splitty (Tel Aviv, Israel): Split your way to a better hotel deal! Choose your destination and dates, and Splitty’s “split and match” technology combines different reservation types to find the cheapest hotel stays for the dates that you want to travel.

ucic logo with text

UCIC (Waterloo, Canada): Ask and see live photo or video from anywhere in the world, right now.








The Search is On: Casting a Wide Net for Techstars Atlanta

Lately, I’ve felt a bit like a kid in a toy store.

Let me explain… We’ve reached one of the most exciting phases to date in building out Techstars Atlanta: searching for the first group of companies to come through the program.

In general, Techstars places a high emphasis on team, market, progress and idea when it comes to selecting startups, but beyond that it’s up to each program to decide which companies fit the bill.

In a horizontal program such as ours, we’re casting a wide net. We’re looking for companies in some of the most exciting emerging fields of technology, as well as playing to our strengths in Atlanta and remaining mindful of business development opportunities with our corporate sponsor, Cox Enterprises.

1) Emerging Tech

We’re at the point today where capabilities previously thought of as science fiction are being developed and brought to market. When it comes to emerging technologies, we’d like to see companies in the following areas:

  • Narrow AI: Look no further than Facebook’s F8 for proof that intelligent bots are all the rage right now. Sure, bots have been around for awhile (IBM Sametime, anyone?), but we’ve reached a new phase in their usefulness where they can interface with humans and understand the nuances of language. As Fred Wilson pointed out, Google is now thinking about AI-first world. Instead of sending commands to bots, we can now converse with them like we would with one another, and that advancement opens up so many possibilities. In particular, we’re interested in narrow applications of artificial intelligence, be it commerce bot platforms, like ReplyYes, smart agents, like Amy@x.ai, smart customer service agents (we’ve already received an application from one company that allows you to re-book missed flights via text message), content bots, like StatMuse (Techstars Disney ‘15), or anything other narrow AI implementation.
  • Blockchain 2.0: Tyler and I first met after we individually invested in an Atlanta startup, and that happened to be a blockchain-based distributed storage company called Storj.io. It’s fascinating to see how applications for the underlying bitcoin technology have expanded beyond cryptocurrency. Whether it’s file storage, identity management or perpetual data like public contracts and records, the use cases for blockchain are expanding and it’s poised to have a significant impact on how we live and work. These businesses are interesting to us.
  • Sharing economy: In startup pitch circles, business models predicated on the sharing economy often present themselves as the next “Uber for X.” Despite this threadbare phrase, I still believe there are opportunities in the sharing economy that have not yet been exploited. Like ridesharing, room and equipment rentals, crowdfunding and other examples, new opportunities will continue to be created by taking advantage of excess capacity in networks. We’re looking for companies tapping into the sharing economy in new and clever ways.
  • Automation and drones: We’re on the precipice of living in a fully autonomous world. I believe this because I see it in action every morning. After the Cloud Sherpas exit, I got a Tesla Model S (a bit cliché for a startup founder exit, I know). For those that haven’t experienced Tesla’s autopilot, in a nutshell, the car drives itself. For real. From the moment I enter the highway and engage autopilot until I’m ready to exit back onto a surface street, the car magically stays in its lane, speeds up, slows down, and even avoids accidents. It’s just incredible and it’s here today. While I don’t necessarily expect to see the next Cruise in our first Atlanta batch, I do believe that Tyler and I, along with the Techstars ecosystem and Cox, have the capability to nurture and accelerate businesses related to automation and drones, whether it be farming, industrial applications, delivery companies, you name it.
  • VR/AR software applications: As Techstars Executive Director Cody Simms shared, we’re finally looking up from our phones. But where are we looking? Perhaps to a virtual or augmented reality, and this future looks bright. Companies like AppliedVR (Techstars Healthcare ‘16), that have developed a VR application as a drug-free, user-friendly alternative for acute pain and anxiety management, are an excellent example. Startups that are developing unique, purpose-built software applications using VR/AR technologies are especially interesting to Tyler and me.

2) Atlanta’s Bread and Butter

The Atlanta tech community is known for its past and present success stories in enterprise security (Internet Security Systems, AirWatch, Ionic, Pindrop) and marketing technology (Mailchimp, Pardot, SalesLoft, Terminus). Certainly startups in these fields will have a deep pool of mentors and local experienced entrepreneurs to draw upon.

We’re also home to some of the largest players in the payments space (FirstData, NCR, Global Payments) and e-commerce startups (Cardlytics, supply.com, ScoutMob). Given our ties to the Atlanta tech community and our own experience, we know we can help accelerate companies that fall into these categories even faster.

3) Cox Industries and Causes

Finally, any businesses directly related to industries in which Cox plays (automotive, communications and media) and causes to which it contributes (environmental and healthcare) are definitely of interest to us, too. Much like those that fall into the previous category, we can help accelerate startups in these industries even faster by potentially making business development connections within the Cox family of companies.

The Ideal Corporate Partner

There you have it, folks. The first Techstars Atlanta class will be diverse by design. And this wouldn’t be possible without the support of Cox Enterprises, an ideal corporate partner with a 118 year history of looking outside the boundaries of its own businesses to disrupt itself.

For example, in recent history Cox anticipated the decline in newspaper classifieds and created Autotrader, the world’s largest online and mobile selection of new, certified and user cars. Cox wasn’t afraid to disrupt its newspaper business, their original business where the classified section was once dominated by automotive ads. Autotrader is now part of Cox Automotive, the company’s fastest growing unit with $5.9 billion in revenue and a physical presence in 24 countries around the world.

Beyond its investment activity, Cox also has a legacy of giving back to the community. Most recently, Cox has acted on that mission by helping the Atlanta startup community secure its place on the map, which is exactly why it chose to partner with Techstars. Notably, Cox has taken this on in an effort to help Atlanta get the recognition it deserves.

Based on this background, it’s not surprising that Cox has supported a wide scope to the Techstars Atlanta program. It’s now our job to cast a wide net and attract the most promising startups from around the world, and we fully intend to do just that.

Here’s to the Future, Atlanta

Does your company fit the bill? If you fit into one of these groups, we want to hear about it!

Applications are due May 8 — start your application today.

If you’re a NYC-based startup, come join us for a beer on Monday evening, April 25, at 6:30pm at the Techstars New York location on Broadway and 39th. We’ll be co-hosting a jam session with Jenny Fielding from Techstars IoT to share information about our programs and answer any questions.

And don’t fret, Atlanta. We’re coming home later this week!

We’ll be at the Atlanta Tech Village on Thursday evening, April 28, at 5pm.

Reserve your spot to come hang out with me and Tyler in the ATV Speakeasy Board Room where we’ll be on-site to answer your questions about the program.








Team, Team, Team: Welcome Tyler Scriven to Techstars Atlanta

At Techstars, we are often asked the question, “what do you look for in a startup?” Our answer is “team, team and team,” (followed by market, progress and idea). Today I’m excited to announce my teammate and partner in Techstars Atlanta, Tyler Scriven, who will be joining as Director.

Most recently, Tyler helped scale the Silicon Valley-based software company Palantir. Titles at Palantir are fleeting, but suffice to say, Tyler did some pretty impressive things while there. After overseeing the operations of the business through a period of tremendous growth, Tyler relocated to Atlanta late last year. He and I met as investors in the same company, and quickly hit it off. I’ve gotten to know Tyler very well since then and I couldn’t be more excited to have him on board as my partner on this journey with Techstars.

Offering Founders a Diverse Set of Experiences

When you’re launching a startup, it’s generally a good idea to look for different strengths in your founding team members. The same idea most certainly applies to building and growing the Techstars program in Atlanta, which is why I’m so thrilled about partnering with Tyler.

Tyler and I certainly have a lot of similarities and share many of the same ideals, but our skills and backgrounds are actually quite complementary to one another, making us what I’d like to think is the perfect team.

Take, for example, our experience growing companies. As one of the co-founders and CEO of Cloud Sherpas, I grew the company from its inception to our first million in revenue, 10 employees, and first round of funding from Hallet Capital. I remained on the senior leadership team until the sale of our company. Tyler had a somewhat opposite experience at Palantir. When he joined the company, it was at about 100 employees. It then grew to over 2,000 employees during his tenure, in large part due to hiring he did and acquisitions he led. In other words, I’m the zero-to-one guy and Tyler is the one-to-scale guy, and that means together we can offer the organizations that come through Techstars the entire package.

Recruiting Talent and Ideas from Across the Spectrum

Tyler also brings a unique perspective to the table that complements my own. Whereas I’ve built most of my relationships in the south and along the east coast, Tyler is extremely well-connected out west. This geographic diversity creates a powerful opportunity for us to tap into his Silicon Valley roots and create a deep connection between the Atlanta startup community and the Valley.

Additionally, Tyler understands the value of having a diverse class of entrepreneurs come through the Techstars program, and I have no doubt that he will be an ardent champion for diversity in all forms, be it technology, geographies or anything else.

Playing to Our Strengths

Finally, I’m excited about the personality that Tyler brings to the table. From his strength as a communicator (Tyler has the rare ability to think clearly and calmly under pressure and set his emotions aside when necessary) to the surprising path he took to get where he is today (Tyler majored in architecture in college — I know, I wouldn’t have guessed it either!), Tyler is really an artist underneath it all. I often think of myself as an artist too, and I have no doubt that the creativity with which that comes will prove a valuable asset as we grow the Techstars program in Atlanta.

Welcome to the Team, Tyler

As complementary as Tyler and I are in so many areas, we’re entirely both aligned with each other and the larger Techstars program on the mantra of #givefirst.

For these reasons and so many more, I could not be more thrilled to have Tyler as my partner and to take this journey with him. Together, I am certain that we will have an indelible impact on those who come through our program, contribute to Atlanta in a meaningful way and build one of the most powerful nodes in the Techstars system.

What’s Next?

I’ve had a busier month ramping up with Techstars than I’ve had in a very long time. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store:

  • Applications are open: Our immediate focus is on recruiting great companies, and we want to see everything there is to offer. Got something to bring to our attention? Start your application today.
  • See you next week in Israel: On a quest for a truly diverse program, I’m going to tech-savvy Israel to spread the word about Techstars Atlanta. I’ll be in Tel Aviv next week, where I’m hosting a panel discussion with Israeli founders who came through different US Techstars programs, followed by a happy hour. I’m super interested in meeting companies, so if you’re in the area, check out the event page to learn more and join us. Thanks to @lironrose and @wolkomir for helping to coordinate!
  • April 28th at Atlanta Tech Village: Thanks to our friends at ATV for hosting! Tyler and I lead a Techstars Atlanta information session in the Speakeasy Board Room starting at 5pm. Details and beer to follow.
  • Stay tuned for more events: We’ll be hosting more information events in the coming weeks, so check in with me on Twitter at @cohnhead for announcements about where to find us.

Originally posted on Medium. 








3 Reasons Why I Chose Techstars

Anyone who knows me will tell you this past year has been nothing short of a whirlwind. To replay some of the highlights for you: I fulfilled every entrepreneur’s dream by selling my company, traveled to Nepal and got stuck there during the earthquake (more on that later — I’ve got to keep you coming back for something, right?), began mentoring entrepreneurs at the Atlanta Tech Village and got my feet wet in some angel investing.

Now that you’re all caught up, I’m thrilled to tell you about what’s in store for me next: This summer, I’ll be leading Techstars Atlanta, in partnership with Cox Enterprises, as Managing Director (aka my dream gig).

Why am I so excited about what’s to come? Why now and, more importantly, why Techstars? There were three things in particular that really sealed the deal for me:

1) Coaching Entrepreneurs

Coaching entrepreneurs is intoxicating. There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing from founders that a nugget of wisdom I shared with them actually impacted their business. Beyond that, I know the support I received when starting Cloud Sherpas proved invaluable to me, and I’d like to continue to pay it forward. So when it came time to think about what I wanted to do next, I knew that mentoring was at the top of my list.

Techstars will provide me with an amazing platform to share my experiences, including lessons learned from successes and failures alike, and I couldn’t be more excited about that.

2) Connecting Atlanta with the Techstars Network

The Techstars program isn’t just for entrepreneurs. In fact, it’s a very mentor-driven program. As Managing Director for the Atlanta chapter, I’ll be recruiting about 80 mentors, including entrepreneurs who have had exits, business leaders and functional experts, who will help guide the entrepreneurs participating in the program. This model makes for a very community-focused support environment.

While all of this activity will first happen in Atlanta, the beautiful thing about Techstars is that once you come in as either a founder or mentor, you gain access to the entire global ecosystem. My role as Managing Director will really be that of a connector — connecting the Atlanta mentor community and our startups with others coming through the broader Techstars ecosystem. I couldn’t be more excited to make these connections with the diverse network of entrepreneurs, founders, mentors and experts who are part of Techstars and to help raise the profile of Atlanta in the global startup community along the way.

3) Learning How to Invest

Finally, I’m jazzed about the possibilities for broadening my horizons when it comes to investing. I’ve dabbled in angel investing a bit to date and have done some really good deals (and learned from others that haven’t performed as well), but I’m still very much learning. I’m confident that Techstars will help here by giving me a platform to continue this growth and become a truly great tech investor. My goal is to build a portfolio of companies that come through this program over the next three to five years. And hopefully, when all is said and done, I’ll be able to look back and see some real winners in the bunch.

Techstars, Here I Come

I recently had the opportunity to meet several Techstars team members at SXSW, and this experience only furthered my excitement by reinforcing what I already knew — that these are some wicked smart people who I can’t wait to exchange ideas with and work alongside. It also made even clearer how founder-friendly Techstars is, which continues to blow me away. The Techstars mantra is #givefirst, and this ethos really permeates every relationship I’ve made with people in the organization. The people I’ve met have been nothing short of generous with their time, and that’s a fantastic way to build a culture, particularly as the organization scales its reach worldwide.

With all of that in mind, I’d like to extend a special thank you to Kyle Porter, the CEO of SalesLoft (one of Atlanta’s most exciting companies) and a Techstars Boulder ‘12 alum, for bringing this opportunity to my attention.

I guess there’s nothing left to say but Techstars, here I come. Continue to follow me here for updates about my journey with the Techstars community, my advice to entrepreneurs and mentors and, of course, the story of my time in Nepal.