Frequently Asked Questions
Note: See our application FAQ if you have questions about the application process.
How much funding do TechStars companies receive?
You get $18,000 for your company. In addition, you are offered a $100,000 convertible debt note by a group of prominent VCs immediately upon acceptance into TechStars. Funding details here. You also get great perks such as free hosting and services, a nice place to work if you want to, and more. There is immeasurable value in the connections and advice that you’ll receive when you start your company with TechStars, and also in the opportunity to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program during our Investor and Demo Day. Historically, TechStars companies go on to average more than $1M raised in outside capital after the program. See the detailed results.
What sorts of companies do you fund?
We fund technology oriented companies, typically these are web-based or other software companies, but we’ve funded companies that don’t quite fit that mold as well. We’re also looking for companies that can have national or worldwide reach. Specifically, we don’t fund biotechnology companies, restaurants, consultancies, or other local service oriented companies.
I understand TechStars is the subject of a documentary TV show. Does that mean if I apply I will be on TV?
No. This show was created in first few months of 2011. We have no plans to do it again at the moment.
Who’s behind the program and why are you doing this?
We are a group of very successful entrepreneurs and investors who truly enjoy helping startups and think that Boston, Boulder, NYC and Seattle are great places for them to be. More about us.
Do you fund companies that are competitive with each other?
Not in the same class/program, but sometimes otherwise, yes.
Why does TechStars need and want stock in my new company?
Like you, we’re entrepreneurs. We think that the value of the learning, networking, and coaching provided by the program is of tremendous value. The TechStars program will provide you with the healthiest possible start and greatly improve your chances for success and sustainability. Once we invest, we’re motivated to help you succeed by introducing you to people who can help, assisting you with strategy, finding more investors, and generally helping you to succeed. That’s a good deal for both of us.
TechStars almost sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch?
There’s no catch. Just ask any of the companies who’ve been through the program. About 70% of them go on to subsequently raise angel or venture funding. From the first year (2007), four of the ten companies have now been successfully acquired by the likes of AOL, Jive Software, and WordPress. We encourage you to check out our companies page and ask the founders about TechStars yourself.
Is my company “too far along” to apply to TechStars?
Probably not. We’ve had companies start with $1M+ in revenue (here’s their blog post) and $1M+ in funding (read about it). We’ve had companies start with fully developed products and we helped them with business model, introductions, financing, and more. Likewise, nothing is too early. We’ve accepted companies with no more than an idea, a dream, and maybe a dog. Do the work. Ask any past founder by contacting them at founders@ their domain name – they’ll be happy to answer any questions that you might have. Also see our post featuring some of these companies, You’re Never Too Far Along for TechStars.
After I apply, I’m thinking of emailing many of the mentors to get them interested in what I’m doing. Good idea?
No. We receive thousands of applications per year, which is why we have an application process. Systematically emailing some or all of our mentors in order to try to influence them before being accepted into the program will hurt you more than it will help you (because they’ll complain about it to us). The mentors are dedicated to helping the companies that we select, but are not a part of the selection process. Please don’t bombard them with emails.
Can I stop by your office to say hello?
Please don’t stop by our offices without an appointment. This is not a good example of persistence on your part and it will negatively influence your application. We are happy to consider taking an appointment, so please contact us instead.
Do I have to be there for the entire 3 month period?
No. It’s your company so you can come and go as you see fit. But we do require that you be primarily based on site during the program. This benefits you because you can take advantage of the numerous learning opportunities, networking and coaching that will be provided. TechStars is a major commitment, and we expect you to be around most of the time.
Do I have to stay in that city when the program ends after 3 months?
No. It’s your company, so you’ll live where you want to.
Can I apply if our company or founders are not from the USA? Can you help with Visa/immigration issues?
Yes. Anyone from anywhere can apply, and we’ve funded many non-US companies in the past. You do have to be legally in the U.S. during the program, of course. Once accepted, we can help with legal/immigration issues by leveraging our contacts and network to help. However, we cannot help with them in advance of acceptance to TechStars.
What else does TechStars provide? Office space, internet, legal, hosting, etc?
We provide working and meeting spaces, as well as a nice lounge all with super fast and reliable wireless Internet access. Still, many of our founders choose to work from their apartments or local coffee shops. It’s up to you. Here’s a full list of perks that TechStars companies automatically receive, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Basically, we’ll help you get everything covered with minimal expense. We just want you to focus on creating a great product while you’re here, and not have to worry about all this other stuff.
How can we get funded after TechStars ends?
We provide the seed funding to get you going, but you may well need more funding to really make it. Near the end of the three month program, we’ll organize an Investor Demo Day where angel investors and venture capitalists from all over the country will check out your technology and listen to your pitch. Usually we have about 200 investors there. We’ll coach you so you’re as effective as possible, and do everything we can do help get you follow on funding. We may also fund your company further ourselves in some situations. So far, about 75% companies have received follow on funding and/or immediately became profitable after TechStars ended. Once a year, we take some of our companies out to Silicon Valley to present as well. Read the recent TechCrunch post “TechStars Demo Day: Acquisitions galore as twelve companies strut their stuff.”
Can you tell me more about the networking and educational opportunities?
About two or three times per week, we will organize an informal dinner and invite our mentors to speak on a relevant topic. These will be presented as appropriate by highly successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, legal experts, venture capitalists, investment bankers, etc. Sometimes, we’ll just organize a brief talk with Q&A by a CEO or CTO of a well known local startup. We’ll even venture out to some of these companies (such as Photobucket, Newsgator or Rally Software) and do the session there. Typically, top executives and techies from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and more visit and provide early feedback and opportunities to our companies. Generally speaking, they’ll be in the early evening. All of these sessions will be very informal and give you plenty of time to interact with the mentors personally.
What if my company doesn’t ultimately succeed?
Well, at least you tried. Because not just anyone is accepted into the TechStars program, you’ll have an impressive resume item for your next gig that will look way better than almost anything else you could have spent your time doing. And you will have met a large number of smart and well connected people who can help you tremendously with whatever you do next. Hopefully that will be another startup.
What sort of control am I giving up by granting equity to TechStars?
TechStars wants to be viewed as a co-founder. We expect to have all the same rights as any other founder, relative to our minority ownership position. In a nutshell, we don’t want any special or controlling interests in your company. We won’t ask for a board seat or for any uncommon investor rights. You will still run the show.
I’m a single founder. Can I get accepted into TechStars, or do you only look for teams?
While we don’t screen applications just because they have a single founder, it does make things more difficult. We look for great, balanced teams who have a full range of skills. We strongly advise you to seek co-founders who balance your skillset. For example, if you’re a strong developer, you might consider adding someone with business and/or marketing experience. If you’re a great business evangelist with no developer, it’s very unlikely we’ll accept you into the program, so go find a rock star developer to join you. Also, check out HackStars as a way of getting into TechStars without a team (it’s not a good way to find co-founders, look at the next question for that).
How can I find a co-founder to apply to TechStars with?
Where will we live while we’re there?
That’s up to you – we don’t provide a place to live. If you’re accepted into TechStars, we immediately assign someone on our end to help you find housing. It hasn’t been much of a problem for past founders.
How do you choose which companies to accept into the program and to fund?
We will choose great founders who are proposing products that solve real problems or create meaningful innovations. For us, it’s about the team. Because of this reason, we’re less likely to accept single founder companies. The best things you can do to strengthen your application are:
- Round out your team with business, technical, and other necessary skills.
- Make progress on your prototype or product and reference it in the application.
- Show us you’ve really thought about your business and have gotten off your butt to do something about it.
Is my age a factor in your selection process?
No, but if you’re a young entrepreneur it’s important that you read this blog post to better understand what else might be a factor. The typical age range of our founders is 25-40 years old, but we’ve had much younger founders and much older founders in the past.
Do I need to send in a business plan?
Nope. Just fill out the informal online application – that’s all you need for us. In fact, we probably don’t want to see your business plan if you have one.
When is the deadline to apply and what’s the overall timeline?
Check the schedule for details. If you apply early enough, we may invite you to attend TechStars For A Day, space permitting. This is not a required step, but it can be a great way to learn more about TechStars and for us to get to know each other better. We encourage applicants to submit by the early deadline for various reasons. Once you have submitted, you can’t edit the fields. That’s okay! You can always add notes, video URLs, and progress details in the notes section.
Where is the TechStars office and what’s it like?
In Boulder, we have moved out of the Bunker into a building nearby in the downtown area. In Boston, we’re in Cambridge. In Seattle, we’re near South Lake Union. In NYC, we are in Foursquare’s old space in Cooper Square. At Cloud, we’re at Geekdom Headquarters in San Antonio. TechStars locations are fully equipped and have both traditional and lounge-like space. Of course, it’s your company so you set your own schedule, office hours, etc. You don’t have to work from the TechStars space unless you want to.
What will a typical day be like for a TechStars founder?
It’s your company, so you’ll be hard at work on your product. You can choose to work out of the TechStars office if you’d like, or you can work anywhere else that you might prefer. About two or three nights a week, we’ll organize informal educational sessions with our mentors. We also expect many of the mentors to drop in to TechStars at various times throughout the program. In general though, you’ll be working on your product each day, just like all of the other founders in the program. We don’t tell you what to do or when, but we create an environment that is conducive to helping your startup every day. And we’ll make sure you have lots of experienced mentors around to help you. Watch this 5 minute video by Current TV to get a sense of what it’s like. You can even watch “The Founders“, which consists of 14 five-minute episodes that follow 3 teams through the program in 2009.
Can I apply if I’m not from the United States?
Yes. As long as you and your team can be in the USA legally for the duration of the three month program, please do. We have accepted overseas founders in the past and love getting applications from all over the globe.
I’m concerned that if I apply, you won’t protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about this?
We’re certainly not in the business of stealing ideas, and we won’t show your application to anyone outside of TechStars. Each year, we see hundreds of applications and many of them include similar ideas. For this and other practical reasons, please don’t ask us to sign an NDA. Our application does not ask for your “secret sauce” and there is no reason you have to disclose this to us if you’re not comfortable doing so. We hope that our reputation speaks for itself on this topic.
I don’t have an idea yet, but I’m a strong developer or designer looking for a great opportunity. Does TechStars have a way to help me?
Yes, it’s called HackStars.
Do you ever offer internships to people interested in TechStars?
Yes, apply to be an Associate. You can cross-apply to multiple program locations as well.
My team outsources software development. Are we still qualified to apply?
Yes. We think it’s best not to outsource what you are, but it obviously works in some cases. We’re happy to consider any application. Just remember that we’re primarily focused on the team.