Anyone who knows me will tell you this past year has been nothing short of a whirlwind. To replay some of the highlights for you: I fulfilled every entrepreneur’s dream by selling my company, traveled to Nepal and got stuck there during the earthquake (more on that later — I’ve got to keep you coming back for something, right?), began mentoring entrepreneurs at the Atlanta Tech Village and got my feet wet in some angel investing.
Now that you’re all caught up, I’m thrilled to tell you about what’s in store for me next: This summer, I’ll be leading Techstars Atlanta, in partnership with Cox Enterprises, as Managing Director (aka my dream gig).
Why am I so excited about what’s to come? Why now and, more importantly, why Techstars? There were three things in particular that really sealed the deal for me:
1) Coaching Entrepreneurs
Coaching entrepreneurs is intoxicating. There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing from founders that a nugget of wisdom I shared with them actually impacted their business. Beyond that, I know the support I received when starting Cloud Sherpas proved invaluable to me, and I’d like to continue to pay it forward. So when it came time to think about what I wanted to do next, I knew that mentoring was at the top of my list.
Techstars will provide me with an amazing platform to share my experiences, including lessons learned from successes and failures alike, and I couldn’t be more excited about that.
2) Connecting Atlanta with the Techstars Network
The Techstars program isn’t just for entrepreneurs. In fact, it’s a very mentor-driven program. As Managing Director for the Atlanta chapter, I’ll be recruiting about 80 mentors, including entrepreneurs who have had exits, business leaders and functional experts, who will help guide the entrepreneurs participating in the program. This model makes for a very community-focused support environment.
While all of this activity will first happen in Atlanta, the beautiful thing about Techstars is that once you come in as either a founder or mentor, you gain access to the entire global ecosystem. My role as Managing Director will really be that of a connector — connecting the Atlanta mentor community and our startups with others coming through the broader Techstars ecosystem. I couldn’t be more excited to make these connections with the diverse network of entrepreneurs, founders, mentors and experts who are part of Techstars and to help raise the profile of Atlanta in the global startup community along the way.
3) Learning How to Invest
Finally, I’m jazzed about the possibilities for broadening my horizons when it comes to investing. I’ve dabbled in angel investing a bit to date and have done some really good deals (and learned from others that haven’t performed as well), but I’m still very much learning. I’m confident that Techstars will help here by giving me a platform to continue this growth and become a truly great tech investor. My goal is to build a portfolio of companies that come through this program over the next three to five years. And hopefully, when all is said and done, I’ll be able to look back and see some real winners in the bunch.
Techstars, Here I Come
I recently had the opportunity to meet several Techstars team members at SXSW, and this experience only furthered my excitement by reinforcing what I already knew — that these are some wicked smart people who I can’t wait to exchange ideas with and work alongside. It also made even clearer how founder-friendly Techstars is, which continues to blow me away. The Techstars mantra is #givefirst, and this ethos really permeates every relationship I’ve made with people in the organization. The people I’ve met have been nothing short of generous with their time, and that’s a fantastic way to build a culture, particularly as the organization scales its reach worldwide.
With all of that in mind, I’d like to extend a special thank you to Kyle Porter, the CEO of SalesLoft (one of Atlanta’s most exciting companies) and a Techstars Boulder ‘12 alum, for bringing this opportunity to my attention.
I guess there’s nothing left to say but Techstars, here I come. Continue to follow me here for updates about my journey with the Techstars community, my advice to entrepreneurs and mentors and, of course, the story of my time in Nepal.