Techstars’ Managing Directors (MDs) devote their time to finding the best startups. Between office hours, recruiting tours, and AMAs, they are available to answer your questions and tell you more about Techstars.
Can’t join them in person? Check out our FAQ and read on for insights from our MDs on what they are looking for in applications from startups.
What to know before applying
Our current application consists of three parts: basic information, team information, and program specific questions. You can use the same profile and team information to apply to different programs. Some of our programs are on one joint application because they share similar timelines, others may be separate because of the unique timeline or specific focus.
Do your research, learn more about each program and the team behind it, and check out who we’ve accepted in the past.
Don’t let your misperceptions stop you! Our MDs set the record straight:
You are never too far along! Techstars can, and has, helped at all stages. It’s not just pre-product, pre-revenue companies.
As one MD put it: “There isn’t a ‘minimum’ requirement. Each application is different. We look at a lot of things to make a decision. If you’re early or far along, if you’ve got customers or are pre-product, there are a lot of different kinds of companies that get into Techstars.”
About the team video:
“When we ask for your team video, we really want to know about your team. Who you are, how you met, how long you’ve worked together, why you’re awesome.”
We’re looking to hear your story. And don’t forget, show some personality and make it personal! This really is the most important element of the application. Keep it simple: be yourself, don’t read your pitch from a screen, and don’t work about a high quality production.
What about the demo video?
Like the team video, everyone agrees: this doesn’t need to be super polished. Instead: demo what you actually have, show us the product, give us a simple walkthrough!
As a guide: “a super crappy product demo with an ugly UI is 100x better than a marketing video.”
What else? Here is specific feedback, direct from our MDs.
About your team
We love the story of how you met, how long you’ve worked together, and how you work together. Show us your interpersonal relationships, why you want to solve this problem, and why you are uniquely qualified to do so!
On your location selection
Your first choice location will prioritize reading your application.
“The location you select will determine the network you’ll build. Make sure you pick a location that will give you the best opportunity to build the right network with the right mentors. There’s a decent chance you may wind up locating your company there for the long haul.” And, “If you’re planning to fundraise, choose a site that you think you’d have success fundraising in.
Company & Vision
“Make it brief, long rambling answers are never effective.” But think big, too: MD’s also want to see “A clear immediate goal and very big, encompassing long term goals of disrupting an industry.”
Team & Commitment
Make sure you really highlight what makes your team unique! As one MD says: “There are people who were born to do what they do. I really want to know that this is the thing you were put on earth to do and that with hard work and good luck, you can do it better than anyone else on the planet.”
From our MDs, “the more detail on this, the better,” but detail doesn’t have to mean metrics and raw numbers. We want to see the momentum you’ve gained, and what you’ve learned from your customers.
One guiding principle: Be honest!
Help us see where your money is going. And know that “You’ll need to have enough runway that with the money from Techstars, you can last until your next likely round of financing.”
Plain and simple: “We want to understand your cap table so we can help you.”
Help us see the full picture: Give any notes about team members that are no longer with the company but own > 5%.
And remember, like funding: Be honest!
Never say you don’t have any competition! As one MD says: “It’s either another company, and if it’s not, it’s email or a spreadsheet, or voicemail, or something else that people hack now to solve the problem they have that you’re solving.” And when you list it out, make sure to be specific.
Above all: “Having competitors is good. It gives you someone to go up against. You should know who they are and most importantly, how you are different and better than they are.”
We hope these tips from our MDs helped! If you have any further questions, reach out to our team at email@example.com. And remember, Techstars routinely opens applications each January and July. Other programs may be added to our programs list so make sure to check back.