The first full class of Techstars Anywhere graduated during our Virtual Demo Day event this month. We are proud of the incredible progress that our founders have made. At Techstars, we believe that great companies can and will be built anywhere in the world. For Techstars Anywhere, we don’t ask the companies to come to us, we go to them. By using technology, the Techstars global network and a bit of travel, we invest in and deliver the Techstars Mentorship-driven Accelerator program to founders, anywhere.
Techstars Anywhere opened applications last summer and we got a historical number of applicants. We looked at thousands of companies and meet hundreds of founders to select this class of 10. Today, we would like to share some of the lessons and results of running this virtual program.
Mentor Network Anywhere
The opportunity is huge — by being virtual there are no geographic constraints which allows us to bring the global Techstars network to founders no matter where they are.
During the last three months, our founders worked closely with an incredible group of 100 mentors based all across North America. Having this global reach allowed us to provide a highly tailored mentorship approach to companies in a diverse set of technologies and across different markets.
BioInteractive Technologies for example, who’s based in Vancouver, worked closely with mentors who have deep industry insight like Tan Lee (founder of Emotiv, based in SF), strong technical expertise like Ian Bernstein (founder of Misty Robotics and Sphero, based in Boulder) and Alex Schiff (founder of Fetchnotes, now with Occipital in SF). Others, such as Lynq in NYC, and Filtered.ai in Boston, got access to markets outside their local tech communities through the relationships built with mentors based in Denver (Ben Hadley), Chicago (Alex Newman), Los Angeles (Alexa Mcculloch) and even in Kansas City (Lesa Mitchell).
Virtually Founders #domorefaster
By using technology to take the program to the companies and avoid relocation, our founders were able to keep their rhythms, working schedules and the focus they needed to bring the best to their companies. We’ve also learned that Techstars Anywhere allows a great amount of flexibility that helps our companies succeed. Jasmine Crowe, CEO of Goodr, was able to join a program session from backstage at NBCUniversal right before going live on the Harry TV Show. And Ken Carnesi, CEO of DNS Filter, traveled to trade shows and business meetings and frequently took mentor calls in airport lounges and VC office lobbies.
Travel for Strong Relationships
While most of the program was done online, it’s important to create real face to face opportunities. So for Techstars Anywhere, we travel a bit. We chose locations where Techstars has a strong network such as Los Angeles, Boulder and San Francisco. While on those trips, the founders develop strong relationships with their peers and met mentors, investors, partners and local Techstars alumni.
This year we kicked off the program in Los Angeles, where after a two day retreat in the mountains, our 30 founders started as strangers and became family. Mid-program, we all met in Boulder where the founders learned fundraising skills from David Cohen, had a unique session on Venture Deals with Seth Levine from Foundry Group, and met with local investors and some of our incredible mentors such as David Mandell, Bart Lorang and Nicole Glaros.
We spent our final week together in San Francisco where the founders met with Bay Area investors and mentors such as Zach Nies, Claus Moberg, Joshua Montgomery, Carly Gloge and Cody Simms who helped polish their pitches.
We are proud of the results
We are proud to share some of the incredible things that our founders were able to accomplish in just three months at Techstars Anywhere.
BlockCrushr Labs (from Halifax, Nova Scotia) is a a venture development studio with a focus on products and services that enable mass consumerization of blockchain enabled technology. During Techstars Anywhere, they’ve developed Groundhog, a next-generation crypto wallet and payment platform.
Filtered.ai (Boston, MA) uses AI to help teams identify, evaluate and hire the best engineers based on both technical and cultural fit. They grew 10x and signed several Fortune 100 customers.
BioInteractive Technologies (Vancouver BC and San Francisco) are the makers of TENZR, a wristband that helps people prevent and recover from hand-injuries and control the world around them using hand gestures. During Techstars Anywhere they successfully completed a pilot study proving the accuracy of their wristband in the stroke rehabilitation market and commissioned new pilots in other markets.
Lynq (New York) is a smart compass that saves lives and ensures you never lose your people, all without the need for phones, connectivity or infrastructure. During Techstars Anywhere they shipped their first product to customers, doubled B2B customers and was the subject of a formal government report citing Lynq’s impact on the location of wounded soldiers.
Goodr (Atlanta, GA) is solving the surplus food supply chain problem by making sure that companies capture the maximum value of their food donations. During Techstars Anywhere they increased their MRR by 40 percent and closed important customers such as Gate Gourmet, Ponce City Market and Concessions International.
DNSFilter (Washington DC) provides a DNS-based content filtering service, which uses machine learning to identify threats in real time. During Techstars Anywhere they doubled their MRR, closed a round of financing and acquired domain intelligence provider, Web Shrinker.
Flikshop (Washington, DC) helps families stay in touch with incarcerated loved ones by making it easy to send a security cleared postcard to anyone in any facility in the country. During Techstars Anywhere they launched Flikshop Angels that allows nonprofits and foundations to fight recidivism by connecting incarcerated people with their loved ones.
Queen of Raw (New York) is a two-sided marketplace that brings raw material back to life by giving factories that overproduce it & brands that over purchase it a place to resell it to recapture its value. During Techstars Anywhere they 10x’d sales, doubled their inventory, expanded partnerships overseas, and grew their user base by ⅓ with customers including H&M and Louis Vuitton.
StoryTap (Vancouver, BC) makes it easy for marketers to collect and socially distribute video stories at scale from real people, like product reviews, video testimonials and content stories – from any device, anywhere in the world. During Techstars Anywhere they launched a self-serve saas product, grew MRR 600% in the past month with leading brands in industries like banking, houseware, communications, and non-profits.
Trust & Will (San Diego, CA) is modernizing estate planning for millennials by providing an easy, fast, and secure way to set up a trust and will online. During Techstars Anywhere they closed an angel round of financing, launched paid product in their first two states and are expanding nationwide by end of the month.
Ryan and I are grateful to our incredible mentors who helped the companies with their expertise, advice and network. Thank you to our partners who brought such support and resources and thank you to our associate Jessica who helped make Techstars Anywhere 2018 a success.
Cheers to Techstars Anywhere 2018!