Techstars Studio is Isaac’s Way of Giving First & Giving Back
Ever wondered what a startup founder does after their company is acquired for billions of dollars?
Isaac Saldana, Co-founder of SendGrid—which was acquired by Twilio for $3 billion in an all-stock deal in October 2018—isn’t lounging on a beach. He’s helping other entrepreneurs create companies, using everything he learned by building SendGrid. And he’s returned to Techstars, the company that taught him how to build SendGrid, to do it.
Just months after SendGrid’s headline-grabbing exit, Isaac has a new job, as Chief Technology Officer for Techstars Studio, a new Techstars offering that will empower members of the Techstars worldwide network to rapidly envision, validate, and launch disruptive startups.
Techstars For Life
“When I started building SendGrid, it was to solve a problem I had. I wasn’t thinking about acquisitions or the company going public.” Isaac says. “I had a problem, I thought I could fix it, I tried, and I couldn’t. And because I couldn’t, I became passionate about trying to solve it.” Isaac was on a mission to help businesses solve the problem of email deliverability, and he ultimately did it so well that by the time SendGrid was acquired, the company was the world’s largest email delivery platform.
But back in 2009, Isaac knew he needed help to build SendGrid into a successful company. His first company had a great idea and a great team, but failed for lack of funding. His second company had a great idea, a great team, and funding, but didn’t have the right mentorship. “We didn’t know what we didn’t know,” Isaac says. “We didn’t know the right questions to even ask.” That company failed as well. So when SendGrid was just starting out and Isaac saw the opportunity to apply to a Techstars mentorship-driven accelerator program, he jumped on it.
“Techstars really, really helped me get SendGrid started,” Isaac says. “I attribute a lot of the reasons for SendGrid success to Techstars.” The benefits lasted far longer than the three months of the accelerator program. Over the years, Isaac hired from the Techstars network, and formed partnerships through the network as well.
Give First, Give Back
Returning to Techstars as a key player in Techstars Studio feels to Isaac like giving back—and an opportunity to be even more involved in Give First—the core Techstars value that encourages all members of the Techstars network to give of themselves, of their time and expertise, with no expectation of receiving anything in return.
“I feel so thankful to the network. I’ve experienced the value that it provides first hand,” Isaac says. “Techstars makes a difference to entrepreneurs, and Techstars Studio was a great opportunity to get involved in the mission and contribute to it.”
To Isaac, Techstars Studio makes sense because it makes use of so many of Techstars strengths: a network of top quality talent, experience building successful companies, access to intelligent funding. “People used to think that you only needed a great idea, or great entrepreneurs, or great engineering,” he says. “Now they realize that you need more. Techstars has everything you need to build great companies from the ground up.”
For himself, personally, Isaac is looking forward to working with the amazing people in the Techstars network. “I want to work with the great talent of the Techstars network, to help them and also learn a lot from them, and become a better entrepreneur myself.”