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This fall, at our FounderCon conference in Cincinnati, we began a new tradition called the Give First awards. We decided we wanted to recognize founders and mentors from our global network who consistently live this core value of Techstars.

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The idea behind #givefirst is that we try to be helpful without any specific expectation of return and in a non-transactional way. In short, if we can be helpful, then we want to be helpful.

Here are the founders and mentors who we recognized this year for how they live this value.

David Mandell is the co-founder and CEO of PivotDesk (Boulder ‘12) and a Techstars mentor. David shows up and helps at so many Techstars locations. He’s mentored at Patriot Boot Camp (a non-profit we funded early on and helped launch). He shows up at Techstars accelerator programs around the world and meets with companies because he loves being helpful. I suspect that he’s mentored in more locations than any other Techstars mentor. He’s consistently rated as a top mentor at these programs he visits.

John Guydon is the founder and CEO of the Lassy Project (Boulder ‘14). I love working with John because of his “straight talk.” He’s not afraid to tell us how we’re screwing up or how we could do something better on behalf of everyone in the network. At the same time, he’s incredibly generous with his time and a great representative of our alumni.

Rami Essaid is co-founder of Distil Networks (Cloud ‘12) which has grown into a very valuable company. However, just because Rami is the CEO of Distil, he hasn’t forgotten his roots and he is constantly giving back to Techstars by mentoring, hosting alumni gatherings, sponsoring FounderCon, and more.

Thanks to everyone in the network for all that you do. Learn more about Give First in this video.



David Cohen
(@davidcohen) Founder & Managing Partner of Techstars, previously founder of several technology companies. David is an active startup advocate, advisor, board member, and technology advisor who comments on these topics on his blog at DavidGCohen.com







  • Great to see the give first behavior being recognized and rewarded! Something great to aspire to.