The Techstars Risingstars program extends technology company startup opportunities to demographic groups that are currently underrepresented in the technology startup community. In the coming months, we will work to create new opportunities for a larger audience of entrepreneurs by building relationships with selected applicants and our alumni network. The Risingstars program is a highly selective entrepreneurship mentoring program that pairs individual high quality underrepresented entrepreneurs with individual Techstars alumni to help them develop the entrepreneur’s vision into a viable company. At the culmination of the mentorship process, the entrepreneur’s company applies to any one of the Techstars locations with hands on assistance from their alumni mentor. Acceptance into Techstars is not guaranteed. Companies that are not accepted into Techstars have the opportunity to re-apply to a Techstars program after additional mentoring or apply to other high quality accelerators. The alumni mentor assists the entrepreneurs with this entire process, in an effort to maximize their chance of long term success.

Requirements to Apply

  • Must be an underrepresented entrepreneur.
  • Must be starting a company that is creating a technology-oriented product (consultancies are not accepted).

Alumni Mentors

Ajay Kulkarni, Sensobi
Al Doan, Techstars alum
Alessio Signorini, Immersive Labs
Alex Benzer, Social Engine
Austin Evarts, GoChime
Brad Feld, Techstars & Foundry Group
Brian DeWitt, Social Thing
Char Genevier, Social Engine
Chris Ennis, Simple Energy
Dan Lynn, FullContact
Dan Storms, Red Rover
Daniel Osit, Ignighter
Dave Angulo, SpotInfluence
David Bloom, Ordr.In
David Tisch, Investor
Eric Jennings, ToVieFor
Erika Trautman, FlixMaster
Irving Fain, CrowdTwist
Isaac Saldana, SendGrid
Jason Seats, Techstars
Jeff Epstein, Zferral
Jeremy Levine, StarStreet
Jim Booth, Orbotix
Josh Emert, GoChime
Katie Rae, Techstars
Kevin Kelly, App-X
Kevin Prentiss, Red Rover
Lauren McDevitt, WantWorthy
Leith Stevens, FlexTrip
Leon Noel, SocialSci
Marcelo Calbucci, EveryMove
Matt Tablot, GoSpotCheck
Micah Baldwin, Graphic.ly
Nicole Glaros, Techstars
Paul Berberian, Orbotix
Paul Reinarz, Rezora
Phillip Lee, RentMatch
Prafur Mathur, AmpIdea
Rami Essaid, Distil
Reece Pacheco, Shelby TV
Richard Grote, SpotInfluence
Timothy Ericson, Zagster
Todd Klein, Legend Ventures
Tom Chikoore, Filtrbox
Tom Krieglstein, Red Rover
Tom Markiewicz, Stats Mix

Why is Techstars doing this?

Techstars recognizes that there are some demographic groups that are underrepresented among technology startup founders. The goal of Risingstars is to extend technology company startup opportunities to demographic groups that are currently underrepresented in the technology startup community.

What are the benefits of the Risingstars Program?

As an entrepreneur participant in the Risingstars program, you are paired with a successful Techstars alumnus who will be your mentor. This mentor will work to help you develop your vision into a high caliber company.

How many entrepreneurs will be selected?

Approximately forty entrepreneurs will be selected per year.

Who are the mentors?

The mentors are Techstars alumni who have started successful companies. They have gone through the Techstars application process and the actual rigors of a Techstars program. These are highly motivated individuals who are emotionally invested in seeing your company succeed.

If I’m selected, how often will I meet with my alumni mentor?

About once a month, virtually. You will also communicate regularly by email.

How long is the mentorship period?

The mentorship period lasts for a maximum period of one year. Mentorship can last less than a year if the entrepreneur and the mentor agree that the entrepreneur’s company is ready for application to one of the Techstars programs before the full year is complete. We are limiting the mentorship period to a year because we want to make our alumni available to other up and coming entrepreneurs.

Do I have to move to another city to receive mentoring?

No, you don’t have to go anywhere. Our mentors will use all the technology tools available (email, chats, video) to communicate with you from where you are. It’s a virtual experience, but you will meet in person occasionally.

Upon completion of the Risingstars program, am I automatically accepted into the Techstars program?

No. Participating in Risingstars does not guarantee acceptance into Techstars.

What happens if I don’t get into Techstars?

That’s okay. While this is the ultimate goal of Risingstars, your choices are to re-apply to a Techstars program or to any other program, and your alumni mentor will help guide you through this decision.

How much does it cost?


Does Techstars provide me with funding during the mentorship period?

No. Techstars will not provide an entrepreneur with any funding during the Risingstars mentorship period.

Does Techstars get equity in my company in exchange for mentoring?

No. Techstars does not seek any equity in your company in exchange for mentoring. Techstars only gets equity from companies that are accepted into a Techstars program.


Tom Chikoore is the Director of the Risingstars program at Techstars. He was the CTO and co-founder of Filtrbox, a 2007 Techstars company, which was acquired by Jive Software, and has now devoted to living his life in the startup lane. With Tom’s leadership, the Risingstars program extends technology company startup opportunities to demographic groups that are currently underrepresented in the technology startup community.