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Applications have just opened for the 2019 program of the MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars. I feel incredibly proud of our 2018 companies and the amazing Techstars and MetLife teams for a successful first year—and I’m looking forward to selecting ten new companies for this year’s class. A lot of entrepreneurs ask me what we look for when evaluating companies. I can understand that the selection process can sometimes feel like a black box for founders. Hopefully this post will help unpack that box for you!

Subthemes

For the 2019 class, we will continue to define insurtech broadly and search for companies globally. In particular, we are interested in insurtech entrepreneurs focused on:

  • Customers: For example, solutions to support freelancers and those who participate in the gig or sharing economies.
  • Products: For example, new approaches to deliver employee benefits or experiences that will support the financial, emotional, or physical health of customers.
  • Process: For example, new ways to underwrite/manage risk or technologies to accelerate integration across industry partners.  

Don’t feel confined by these subthemes. If you’re working on something interesting in the insurtech space, you should apply.

Stage

We are stage agnostic, which means companies join Techstars at all different stages. For example, PillPack and SendGrid both joined Techstars as pre-product companies. Other companies have raised over $15 million prior to joining Techstars. Don’t think you are too early or too late.  

Team, Team, Team

At Techstars, we have six criteria for selection, and the first three are 1) Team, 2) Team, 3) Team. That’s right—we literally list ‘team’ thrice. I won’t even touch on the other criteria in this post. So, what do we look for in teams? Here are the top three things I look for in founders:

  1. Can you execute? We look for signs that you can execute fast. Do you just talk about doing things or do you actually get them done? Sometimes we can gauge this by projects or companies you have built in the past. Another way I gauge this is by hearing updates from you throughout the application period on the progress you make building your company. If you send update emails to your network or investors already, add me to them. I won’t respond to them, but I will track your progress. When it comes to your application, you’ll have a leg up over the other applicants if you’ve demonstrated your ability to execute. To get my email address, fill out this office hour request form.
  2. Are you resourceful? The best entrepreneurs know how to best utilize the resources that are available to them. After joining Techstars, your network will literally explode with mentors from our program and the broader Techstars and MetLife worldwide community. You’ll learn from subject matter experts, serial entrepreneurs, MetLife executives, and investors. We want founders who will maximize these resources to accelerate their growth. You can throw all the best resources at a startup, but if the team isn’t resourceful, all of that support will go to waste.
  3. Are you open to feedback? One of the biggest benefits of joining Techstars is learning from incredible mentors and peers who sincerely want you to succeed. You will be receiving a ton of brutally honest feedback from our mentors, the other founders, and me throughout the three months. Some A lot of this feedback will be hard to hear. We give you the feedback, because we want you to succeed. Are you open to receiving feedback? Are you intellectually honest? Do you get defensive? At the end of the day, you ultimately make the final decisions for your company, and we’ll respect your decision and support you no matter what. However, if you aren’t even open to hearing feedback, then you’ll limit your growth and acceleration.

I look forward to reading your application for the MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars!

  • See more info and apply for our program here.
  • Request office hours with me here.
  • Register for our live Ask Me Anything (AMA) virtual session on Feb 5th here.
  • Send me those update emails!

 



Mee-Jung Jang Mee-Jung Jang
Mee-Jung Jang is the Managing Director of the MetLife Digital Accelerator, Powered by Techstars. She has been investing in early-stage startups across a variety of industries at Jefferson Investors. Previously, she has been the founder/CEO of a tech startup, a quant hedge fund analyst, a corporate IP attorney, and a published book author in South Korea. Mee-Jung majored in computer science and economics at Harvard and received her JD from Yale. She’s currently a Fellow in the Kauffman Fellows Program.