Today, SimpleGeo announced a $8M round of financing and we’d like to congratulate Matt Galligan on their fantastic progress. Matt is the co-founder of SimpleGeo, and was previously the founder of a TechStars company called Socialthing which was acquired by AOL back in 2008.
We’ve always talked about the real value of TechStars being the second order effects that it generates. Including Socialthing, we’ve now have five exits from the first crop of ten companies that went through the program in the summer of 2007. Some of those founders (like Matt) are now moving on to their second startup, and are setting their sights higher and higher. We’ve now funded well over 100 entrepreneurs and it’s amazing and humbling to watch this network grow. I expect to see many more past founders (both successful and failed) go on to do great things. In fact, I know of a few more things in the works that haven’t hit the radar yet. I have no doubt that the TechStars alumni network is going to do some amazing things over the next decade or so.
But there are other non-obvious second order effects of TechStars. There’s been a dramatic increase in angel investing activity in the communities we’re in. We’ve also noticed that the past TechStars founders are incredibly giving of their time to other companies in their community. They’ve learned the amazing power of sustained mentorship, and they’re giving it back every day. That’s a powerful cycle. One of (the many) great examples of this is that Josh Fraser, who co-founded EventVue in 2007, takes each and every new TechStars company in Boulder out to lunch individually to talk with them about what he learned from TechStars and from his experiences with EventVue. And his does this every year.
TechStars might just be one of the worlds smallest venture funds. While we’re thrilled to be seeing exits and now know that the program is sustainable, it’s always important to remind ourselves that it’s not all about what these companies will do. It’s about encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial ecosystems, and watching what happens over the long haul.