90 days have passed and the culmination of the Techstars Seattle program is here. Demo Day. 10 companies will be pitching their businesses in front of hundreds of investors. As Always, I’m excited. If you don’t have a ticket for the event you can follow Demo Day via Twitter: #TsDemoDay , #TsSeattle, and @Techstars.
There are still tickets left for the Launch Party that follows Demo Day. You can reserve your ticket here: www.DemoDayLaunchParty.com – The discount code: DDAY_25 will give you 25% off your ticket.
Here are the 10 Companies and their one-liners:
Last week we had the pleasure of spending a day with 22 students from the Lakeside school, who joined the 10 Techstars teams for a micro internship day. Each company had 2-3 students help them solve real business tasks. This is our 3rd year running the Micro internship and it continues to be a great success. The students get an insight to being an entrepreneur and get hands on experience with coding, market research and marketing, in return the companies receive unique insights and help from the students. One of the students, Mary Thomas, wrote a great blog post about her day working with Crowsnest.
Mary Thomas: I nodded my head wisely, hoping that my façade of understanding was convincing, as the founders of Crowsnest, the startup that I was to work with for the day, explained their product. Between the use of acronyms like API (which I wouldn’t have recognized even if they had spelled it out) and talking about plugins, which I at least gathered they didn’t mean the electrical socket kind, I was utterly lost. And then— they asked me what my skills and interests are. I balked, only needing a quick assessment of the situation to realize my normal answer to that question (that I play viola) was probably not what they were looking for. Instead I responded with a confident and articulate “Uhhh…” But my initial trepidation soon subsided when the founders were eager to answer my questions, and throughout the day continued to happily pitch in to explain what they were doing. To my relief, the day was not filled with computer coding. In fact one of the founders shared with me that, to his dismay, he had barely done any coding since they began the project. Indeed, I saw first-hand that there is much more to a software startup than just creating the product. Marketing research took up most of our day, researching hardware companies and startups that could possibly use the software that they were making and then conducting interviews to see what issues those companies were facing and whether or not Crowsnest’s product is something there is a widespread need for. After lunch, I joined the founders of all of the startups in watching a fascinating and entertaining presentation by Rand Fishkin, The Hard Truths of Entrepreneurship, in which he shared valuable insight that he had learned from going through what all of the startups at Techstars are going through. His advice addressed some of the things that people often forget about human nature and working with people. Ideas which are important in all areas of life, but he was able to testify to their specific importance when starting a company. All day I saw how much more there is to a startup than just creating a product. Huge amounts of time and effort have to be put in to researching the needs, expectations, and abilities, of both the people consuming, and producing the product. Instead of just a factory of code monkeys, the software startups of Techstars are businesses by people, for people, just like any other.
I am always impressed by these kids, and it’s great they get exposed to entrepreneurship at an early age. Too many students graduate from college not realizing entrepreneurship is a career path. My hope is partnerships like this can help inspire more young people to start their own companies and help make the world a better place.
Techstars Seattle Demo Day, Nov 6th, from 2pm-6.30pm at Showbox SoDo. Reserve your ticket today, read more here
Launch Party Nov 6th, from 6:30-11:00pm at Showbox SoDo – Buy your ticket now
This is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only is it summer in Seattle, but I also get to announce the 10 companies who made the cut for the Techstars Seattle program. This year we received over 600 applications for just 10 spots, making it harder than ever to get accepted. We generally saw more companies that were further along, who already had customers and revenue, but there were also a lot of companies who were just two founders and a great idea – no product, no revenue, no customers. Both are great. We accept all stages and we have.
I want to make it clear to all of those who applied and didn’t get accepted, that this it isn’t a vote against your team or your idea. In fact, we don’t refer to those companies as rejections, but as non-selections. There are many teams that will apply several times before getting in. For this reason we always encourage companies to apply again.
But let’s cut to the chase. This is what we are all here for, the Techstars Seattle class of 2014 and what they do.
- Stand In (Portland)
Stand In redefines how mobile apps are designed. Stand In takes design beyond static screens with tools for designing mobile experiences.
- Crowsnest (Syracuse)
Crowsnest is a software platform for the real world – simple code for controlling air conditioners, light bulbs, cameras and everything in between.
- Garmentory (Seattle)
Garmentory offers curated collections and rich shopping experiences from independent fashion boutiques across the world.
- Colátris (Mountain View)
Contextual Localization as a Service for mobile apps.
- LiveStories (Seattle)
LiveStories builds data tools for non-technical people.
- StreamLine (Stanford)
Streamlining customer service: No more speaking to machines, no more wait time.
- TouchBase (Seattle)
TouchBase is a mobile platform that helps sales representatives manage and present the most effective marketing material.
- Exploration Labs (San Francisco)
Exploration Labs is making a tool for B2B sales teams that provides a cheat sheet on leads.
- Magikflix (Seattle)
Magikflix is a safe, curated edutainment video service for kids, 12 years and younger available across all smart devices including iOS, Android, Microsoft app stores and leading kids tablets.
- True Facet (New York)
TrueFacet.com is the authenticated luxury marketplace where you can shop and sell jewelry and watches with confidence. TrueFacet differentiates itself by offering buyers and sellers a trusted authentication process and best value guarantee.
Our three month program culminates with our Demo Day where the founders will pitch their companies to a room full of investors, mentors, and members of the Seattle tech community. This will take place on November 6th at Showbox SoDo. The tech community is invited to celebrate the class at the Techstars Demo Day Launch Event on November 6th at Showbox SoDo from 6pm. Early bird tickets can be bought now for $5, the prices will increase weekly until they reach their nominal value of $50.
I hope to see you there.
Momchil Kyurkchiev and Andrew First crossed paths while working on the monetization side of Youtube. They decided to leave Google to start Leanplum, a service that helps product managers and marketers optimize mobile content and messaging by providing a platform for mobile A/B testing, personalization and analytics. I recently called the two founders to learn about their progress and how they have benefitted from being part of Techstars.
How did you come up with the idea?
Andrew: We used to run hundreds of A/B tests at Google. The Google culture is very data-driven, they constantly iterate and always test hypotheses. We realized that the speed and ability to iterate had really diminished with the move from web to mobile apps. We decided to bring the best practices from Google to mobile app development.
Tell us about your experience with the Techstars program.
Andrew: To be honest, the Techstars program was probably the most productive time of our lives. Not just because it was a lot of work, but also because we got the right things done. As engineers coming out of Google, we knew how to build systems but we didn’t know a lot about the business side of things. We learned this at Techstars and it was invaluable to us.
How did you benefit from participating in Techstars?
Momchil: The mentors provide amazing and very direct feedback that puts you on the right track. We ended up establishing great relationships with our mentors who gave us lots of advice and helped us connect with the right people, including our first paying customer. On top of that, being in an office where you have nine other companies who are in the same boat as you is very powerful.
What was the hardest part of Techstars?
Andrew: The hardest part of Techstars is what they call “the rollercoaster.” A day that stands clear in my memory was early on in the program, when we discovered we had a competitor. Up until that point, we thought we were the only company in the world who had thought of this idea. We set up a meeting with you to share the bad news. The first thing you did was laugh out loud and then say, “What are you talking about, guys? This is probably the best thing that could happen to you!” We were a bit confused. You said, “Look, if you have a competitor, that is proof you have a market.” We realized there was a market worth fighting over. At that point, we went from the worst of days to one of the better of days.
What was the best part of the program for you?
Momchil: It was getting the chance to control your own destiny. The fulfillment you get from having your own business is just incredible. In terms of professional happiness, nothing really compares.
What do you wish you had known before starting Techstars?
Momchil: One of the things that caught us by surprise was that nobody invests between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. We raised about half of our
goal between demo day and Thanksgiving. Then, nothing. Until January 5, when the people who had radio-silenced us for a month showed up with a check, ready to invest. That was a nerve-wrecking month.
Can you tell us more about your progress?
Andrew: We raised $250,000 before demo day. After demo day we got highlighted on AngelList as one of the top-trending startups. A big reason
for this was our demo day video. The Techstars videos are so professionally made, and the pitches have been practiced dozens of times, literally. That made a big impact on AngelList. We reached $500,000 in funding before the holidays and the rest came in January. As of now, we have raised about $1.1 million in total.
What is your advice for people who are considering applying to Techstars?
Momchil: I am gonna quote master Yoda on this one: “Do or do not, there is no try. ”
Leanplum is out of the Seattle 2012 program, which runs for three months from August through October. The application round for Techstars in Seattle opened on March 17 and if you think you’re ready, I encourage you to apply. The deadline for applying is May 4.
Hi, I’m Andy Sack. I’ve had the pleasure of being the Managing Director of Techstars in Seattle for the past four years and I’m excited to announce that we have opened applications for our fifth program.
Top four reasons you should apply to the Seattle program:
1. You’ll be mentored by the best and your network will explode. Seattle’s startup community is a big one with a strong, northwest frontier spirit. You’ll be instantly connected with Seattle’s high quality mentors, investors and resources. Get ready to be surrounded by like-minded, helpful Seattleites everywhere you go!
2. Your company will accelerate. A wasted year in the technology space can make you outdated and worse, miss your market window. Why would you delay?
3. You’ll be in the center of the Seattle tech scene. There’s no question that the tech community in Seattle is expanding at a rapid rate. Be in the middle of it all surrounded by Amazon, Microsoft and tons of amazing startups.
4. Seattle is beautiful. Yeah, you might hear people complain about the rain, but not to worry since Techstars takes place during our best months. Seattle is surrounded by amazing day hikes, camping trips, kayaking, and basically any outdoor activity you could ever imagine is here! And yes– you will see the sun too.
If Seattle sounds like a place you want to spend three months working on your startup then I’d like to invite you and your co-founders to apply to the Seattle program and give your company an unfair advantage. Applications for Seattle are open. Early application deadline is April 13th and final deadline is May 4th.
Hi, I’m Andy Sack. I’ve had the pleasure of being the Managing Director of Techstars Seattle for the past 3 years, and I’m excited to announce that we have opened applications for our 4th program here in Seattle!
Top 4 reasons you should apply to Techstars Seattle:
1. You’ll be mentored by the best and your network will explode.Seattle’s startup community is a big community, with a strong northwest frontier spirit. You’ll be instantly connected with Seattle’s high quality mentors, investors, and resources. Get ready to be surrounded by like-minded, helpful Seattleites everywhere you go!
2. Your company will accelerate. A wasted year in the technology space can make you out dated and miss your market window, why would you delay?
3. You’ll be in the center of the Seattle tech scene. There’s no question that the tech community in Seattle is expanding at a rapid rate, you’ll be in the middle of it all with our office located in South Lake Union surrounded by Amazon, Microsoft and tons of amazing startups.
4. Seattle is beautiful. Yea, you might hear people complain about the rain, but not to worry since Techstars Seattle takes place during our best months. Seattle is surrounded by amazing day hikes, camping trips, kayaking, basically any outdoor activity you could ever imagine is here! And yes — you will see the sun too.
So if Seattle sounds like a place you want to spend 3 months working on your startup then I’d like to invite you and your co-founders to apply to the Seattle program, and give your startup an unfair advantage. Applications for Techstars Seattle are open. Early application deadline is May 3rd and final deadline is May 31st.
About a year ago, I became aware of an initiative run by Jason Calacanis called Open Angel Forum (OAF). The program tries to marry high quality angels with high quality angel investment opportunities at NO cost to the entrepreneur. This kind of event resonated with me a lot – I attended OAF in Boulder (organized by Techstars CEO David Cohen) and thought it was great! I’ve known Jason since the 90’s and I recently agreed to host Open Angel Forum the night before Techstars Demo Day in an effort to attract more angels to the Seattle event.
So it’s my pleasure to announce — two exciting angel events for investment opportunities in Seattle – ever! Hosted back-to-back on purpose, this is going to be a two days of angel and entrepreneur events in Seattle! These events are invite only so follow instructions below!
I) November 10th – Open Angel Forum / Seattle, 7pm.
Join Jason Calacanis, David Cohen, myself and many other angel investors for the first meeting of the Seattle chapter of the Open Angel Forum! We’ll have food and drinks while hearing 5 minute pitches from 6 start up companies. We’re planning for plenty of fun and time for networking – even a poker game after! Register online here: Angels, Entrepreneurs, Service Providers.
II) November 11th – Techstars Investor Day, 9am.
Ten exciting new companies from the Techstars class of 2010 in Seattle will give short eight minute presentations highlighting the business and investment opportunity. The style is fun and entertaining, it’s a different kind of pitch event that includes amazing opportunities for networking as well. This event is invitation only and registration is required. Please let us know if you’d like to attend or if you have any questions.
If you’re an investor, come hang out with us on November 10 and 11 in Seattle – this should be a great pair of events.
-Andy Sack, Managing Director, Seattle