In April of 2012, Mike Dodd and Tom Ball of Austin Ventures reached out to me with a simple email. It said, in effect, “We need Techstars in Austin, and we’d like to help make it happen.” A few weeks later, Mike came to Boulder to meet with us. They helped us understand what was happening in Austin, and why it would be a great market for Techstars. In classic #givefirst style, they offered to do whatever they could to help us make progress and remove roadblocks.
Many things happened behind the scenes over the next year and Mike, Tom, and the whole gang at Austin Ventures helped with connections and really got behind the effort. One year later, we publicly launched Techstars into the Austin market with the support and backing of the broader community, including more than 100 fantastic local mentors. Watching how those mentors have dug in and helped startups succeed there has been inspiring.
Now Austin is part of the global ecosystem that is Techstars today. We operate accelerator programs in Austin, Berlin, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, London, New York City, San Antonio, San Diego, and Seattle. Those 100 mentors in Austin are now part of a global network of more than 1,500 mentors across our system. Techstars has funded about 500 companies now, and those companies have gone on to raise an average of $2.2M each, and more than $1.1B in total.
Austin is now a big part of the Techstars global network. With the addition of our new $150M fund, we plan on continuing to invest in Austin. Jason Seats is a partner in this fund and is based in Austin. Derek Keller, a Principal with the fund is also based in Austin full time.
With the news last week that Austin Ventures would not be raising a new early stage fund, the headlines proclaimed that the experts were worried about the lack of availability of startup capital in Austin going forward. I have no idea who those “experts” are, but that’s not something I’m concerned about when I think about the Austin startup community. There are truly great startups being born there regularly. Money will always follow high quality entrepreneurs. Techstars will continue to make seed investments through the accelerator in Austin, but also watch for us to make Series A investments locally as well through our new fund and our active presence there.
Austin Ventures has obviously been a huge part of the growth and maturity of the Austin startup community. Thanks in part to their foresight and efforts, there are now many other sources of early stage capital in town. Techstars, and many other organizations in the city today have Austin Ventures to thank for encouraging and supporting us. They could have looked at us as competitive, but instead they put entrepreneurs first and thought deeply about the needs of the overall community, now and into the future.
Hats off to Austin Ventures.