When applications open, one of the questions we receive most is, “Is my company too far along for TechStars?” The answer is no. We accept companies at every stage, whether it’s a strong idea backed by an amazing team or an already profitable or funded venture. Founders vary in age, gender, background, education, and geographical location. Why wouldn’t their progress vary too? I could dispel this myth for you by going into more detail, but I’ll let a few of our founders take it from here with their first-hand experience:
When people we respected started recommending we do TechStars last summer, I was taken aback. As far as I concerned, accelerators like TechStars were for two guys in a garage just starting out (except in New York, where it’d have to be a parking garage, which would be weird). At the time, Contently had been around for almost six months, and we’d made tangible progress (read: paying customers and a modest growth rate). Nevertheless, because of the quality of recommendations, they had our attention. We learned of companies in the last class that were further along, and we began to realize that the program was much more than just an incubator for pre-product teams. In fact, the main benefits of TechStars happened to line up perfectly with our primary business goals. …now that we’re on the other side, we’d do it over again in a heartbeat. It’s an amazing experience for companies at the right stage–which may be later than you think. – Joe Coleman, read entire post here and see Shane Snow interviewed on Mashable here
TechStars Contently Raises $2 M. From Groupon Investor Lightbank
I am an enormous fan of TechStars and couldn’t be happier that we went through the program. We had a product that we were happy with, had raised a little over $400K, had capital and customers, so we met David Tisch and Josh and I walked around the park with him for about an hour. Our initial gut reaction was, I don’t know, is this for earlier stage companies? What really happened was we started to learn from people who had been through the program, went to TechStars for a Day, and realized TechStars is less about gelling an idea together and building a product as it is about the incredible network and relationships you build going through the program. Ultimately whether you’re a later stage company or two people with an idea, that network is incredibly valuable and important. There’s no such thing as being past that point.’ – Irving Fain, CrowdTwist – see their This Week in TechStars episode here
Social Loyalty And Rewards Platform CrowdTwist Raises $6M From SoftBank And Others.
Co-founders Russell Benaroya and Marcelo Calbucci were both serial entrepreneurs prior to going through TechStars. Benaroya worked as a private equity investor and investment banker in New York and Calbucci worked for seven years at Microsoft as a Development Manager and is a TechStars mentor-turned-founder.
TechStars Grad EveryMove Raises $375K
For us two most important factor was a bridge to USA. We are originally from Europe and from day one Techstars grew the exposure among customers, investors and mentors. Second important thing for us was to see the speed of execution of other teams. While companies are in TechStars, they give weekly status updates to other teams and this way you can see how fast they are moving. Who wants to be slower? – Hardi Meybaum, see their recent article in TechCrunch, Mechanical Engineering Community GrabCAD Grabs $4 Million
Toby and I had done a company before called Qloud, as had Nader (called Tamale Software). Both companies had raised money and exited. So when we were initially thinking of TechStars we thought, ‘We know how startups work. We’re not sure TechStars is needed.’ But we were wrong. We’re so happy we were. Here’s why: When you start a company and have an idea, you have some instincts about the product and market but you still need to validate both with customers and users. You get feedback so slowly. In TechStars, this first life cycle of a company is packed into three months. That first month, you’re talking to every kind of audience imaginable multiple times a day. You see the flaws in your idea and are able to change right away. If you want to turbo-charge your startup and be on the fast path, TechStars does that for you. – Mike Lewis
Kapost Gets $1.5 Million Infusion, Bets on Content-Marketing Services
My co-founder and I had a very specific hunch that it would pay off very well. It’s all about acceleration, moving faster, getting a lot done. We took all of the resources and multiplied it by what we already had. We built our business faster in the TechStars environment. - Jason Baptiste. See his This Week in TechStars episode here.
onswipe Raises $1M for Insanely Easy Tablet Publishing Platform
In retrospect, I was definitely skeptical about whether TechStars would be a good choice. Being a seasoned entrepreneur with multiple exits, I had been watching the Founders series and thinking, ‘All these guys are 21 years old.’ We had launched but it was still just me. During the program, I never threw the initial company idea out the window. TechStars helped me where I was weakest, not in execution. The network I built was immensely helpful. When one of our potential angel investors found out we were in the program, it sealed the deal. From a recruiting standpoint, I had been trying to coerce someone into joining my company. When they found out Mocavo was a part of TechStars, they came on board. We found Andy Stone, our third employee and graphic designer, through the community as well. We found our fourth employee through the TechStars Jobs Twitter account, and so forth. The program created momentum we wouldn’t have had otherwise. - Cliff Shaw
Mocavo Raises $1 Million To Build Its Ancestry-Centric Search Engine
Tisch pulled the classic come from behind card, with his simple statement: ‘For me, it’s about my whole life. I could be doing anything – and there is nothing I can think of where I would learn more. Being in the middle of TechStars is absolutely the best possible environment for me to learn as much as I can as fast as I can.’ That resonated…That sounded good to me. Suddenly it wasn’t about what stage Red Rover was at, or how expensive our equity was, suddenly it was about me personally and our whole team learning as much as possible as fast as possible for the benefit of our whole lives as entrepreneurs. Yes our current company would benefit immensely, but this was a bigger game for everyone. - Kevin Prentiss, read the entire post here. Company had $2M in in revenue.
There are a lot of incredible reasons for a company to choose TechStars, but for us, it was a really difficult decision. SocialEngine was both bootstrapped and profitable. We weren’t focused on raising money and we felt like we were too far along for TechStars to be able to make a difference. Thank god we dug deeper.- Char Genevier, read the entire post here.