Applying to Techstars: Tips from Our Managing Directors

Techstars’ managing directors devote their time to finding the best startups. Between office hours, roadshows and AMAs, they are available to answer your questions and tell you more about Techstars.

Can’t join them in person? Check out our FAQ and read on for insights from our managing directors on what they are looking for in applications from startups.

What to know before applying:

Our current application consists of three parts: basic information, team information, and program specific questions. You can use the same profile and team information to apply to different programs. Some of our programs are on one joint application because they share similar timelines, others may be separate because of the unique timeline or specific focus.

Do your research, learn more about each program and the team behind it, and check out who we’ve accepted in the past.

Don’t let your misperceptions stop you! Our managing directors set the record straight:

You are never too far along! Techstars can, and has, helped at all stages. It’s not just pre-product, pre-revenue companies.

“There isn’t a ‘minimum’ requirement. Each application is different. We look at a lot of things to make a decision. If you’re early or far along, if you’ve got customers or are pre-product, there are a lot of different kinds of companies that get into Techstars.”

About the team video:

“When we ask for your team video, we really want to know about your team. Who you are, how you met, how long you’ve worked together, why you’re awesome.”

We’re looking to hear your story. And don’t forget, show some personality and make it personal! This really is the most important element of the application. Keep it simple: be yourself, don’t read your pitch from a screen, and don’t work about a high quality production.

What about the demo video?

Like the team video, everyone agrees: this doesn’t need to be super polished. Instead: demo what you actually have, show us the product, give us a simple walkthrough!

As a guide: “a super crappy product demo with an ugly UI is 100x better than a marketing video.”

What else? Here is specific feedback, direct from our MDs.

About your team
We love the story of how you met, how long you’ve worked together, and how you work together. Show us your interpersonal relationships, why you want to solve this problem, and why you are uniquely qualified to do so!

On your location selection
Your first choice location will prioritize reading your application.

“The location you select will determine the network you’ll build. Make sure you pick a location that will give you the best opportunity to build the right network with the right mentors. There’s a decent chance you may wind up locating your company there for the long haul.” And, “If you’re planning to fundraise, choose a site that you think you’d have success fundraising in.

Company & Vision
“Make it brief, long rambling answers are never effective.” But think big, too: MD’s also want to see “A clear immediate goal and very big, encompassing long term goals of disrupting an industry.”

Team & Commitment
Make sure you really highlight what makes your team unique! As one MD says: “There are people who were born to do what they do. I really want to know that this is the thing you were put on earth to do and that with hard work and good luck, you can do it better than anyone else on the planet.”

Traction
From our MDs, “the more detail on this, the better,” but detail doesn’t have to mean metrics and raw numbers. We want to see the momentum you’ve gained, and what you’ve learned from your customers.

Funding
One guiding principle: Be honest!

Runway
Help us see where your money is going. And know that “You’ll need to have enough runway that with the money from Techstars, you can last until your next likely round of financing.”

Cap Table
Plain and simple: “We want to understand your cap table so we can help you.”

Help us see the full picture: Give any notes about team members that are no longer with the company but own > 5%.

And remember, like funding: Be honest!

Competition
Never say you don’t have any competition! As one MD says: “It’s either another company, and if it’s not, it’s email or a spreadsheet, or voicemail, or something else that people hack now to solve the problem they have that you’re solving.” And when you list it out, make sure to be specific.

Above all: “Having competitors is good. It gives you someone to go up against. You should know who they are and most importantly, how you are different and better than they are.”

We hope these tips from our MDs helped! If you have any further questions, reach out to our team at info@techstars.com.

Applications are open for 10 of our worldwide mentorship-driven accelerator programs, and the Techstars roadshow has kicked off and is coming to your community! Check out the locations to meet with our managing directors, staff and alumni!








Techstars Expands to Asia-Pacific with Techstars Adelaide

Techstars increases our global footprint with our first Asia-Pacific based accelerator in Australia – Techstars Adelaide

Techstars Adelaide will support early-stage companies advancing applications in Internet of things (IoT), big data, sensors and robotics, with potential to develop and commercialize technologies related to the defense and security sectors.  

Defense research has driven some of the most transformative consumer innovation the world has seen, from the internet and GPS to superglue and digital photography.

Located in Adelaide, the state capital of South Australia, the program will connect 10 startups from all over the world to an established Techstars network of community leaders, founders, mentors, investors and corporate partners including seven of the world’s best companies: BAE, Thales, Austal, SAAB, ASC, Rheinmetall and DCNS.

Companies selected for the program will gain access to some of the most advanced technologies and advanced research through our partners. They will also collaborate with accomplished leaders working to advance the capabilities of a host of technologies being developed by the defense and security industries.

Adelaide is poised to become a global center of excellence for the defense sector with over $100 billion worth of major industry projects in the pipeline. Recent investment in innovation in South Australia includes a $230 million Center for Defense Industry Capability backed by the Australian Federal Government.

Applications for Techstars Adelaide are open. The program will run beginning in July 2017. Apply today.








Introducing Three New Managing Directors to the Barclays Accelerator Network

FinTech is one of the hottest themes in the startup scene. Disruption is happening fast and venture capital money directed towards financial service innovation is at an all-time high.  

At the same time, the interest level from financial incumbents to partner with these startup innovators is matching pace.  For example, Techstars’ partnership with Barclays has grown exponentially, creating a sub-network of four FinTech accelerators within the Techstars family.  The Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars programs are now in London, New York, Tel Aviv, and Cape Town, essentially fostering the largest FinTech pipeline in the world.

Through the expansion of this relationship, Techstars has also expanded its team of Managing Directors to lead our efforts in these cities. Joining me and Jenny Fielding (who runs New York) is Chris Adelsbach in London, Liron Rose in Tel Aviv, and Yossi Hasson in Cape Town.

All three of them — Chris, Liron, and Yossi — share the characteristics we believe are the magic combination for our most successful MDs. All three are experienced and successful entrepreneurs, having built up and exited their own companies.  All are angel investors with their own portfolios and track records.  And most important, all of them are mentors to entrepreneurs in their ecosystems from whom they receive rave reviews.

Jenny and I are both proud and excited to have Chris, Liron, and Yossi joining Techstars, our team, and our journey with Barclays to help build the greatest FinTech companies in the world!

Applications for Cape Town and Tel Aviv are open now!








Announcing 11 New Companies for Barclays Accelerator Powered by Techstars

Eleven businesses are about to embark on their journey to shape the future of financial services as the Barclays Accelerator Powered by Techstars gets underway next week.

Applications came in from nearly 50 countries, with selected teams representing both the incredible FinTech scene in London and the international nature of the industry including teams from Toronto to Stockholm to Barcelona. In an age where “UK team” consists of a founder from Russia now living in Arundel, a founder from the Netherlands living in Ukraine, and an Israeli living in Australia, all corners of the globe seem to be converging here in London.

It will come as no surprise many of our founders have prior lives in banking, some with decades of experience as traders, financial analysts, or even former COO of an Egyptian bank. What we had perhaps not predicted is one founder’s stint as a stand-up comedian, or another confessing in his final selection interview: “It’s a little embarrassing when people realise you have a cash register in your bedroom.” The enthusiasm for financial technology here knows no bounds.

And now, with Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins and his ExCo joining us for our kick-off, let us introduce our teams to you.

The Eleven Teams:

Aire – Enabling financial access for consumers through a next generation credit scoring algorithm.

ClauseMatch – First cloud platform for matching and negotiating master agreements for trading over-the-counter derivatives and commodities.

Crowdestates – We are the UK’s first peer-to-peer secured lending platform for residential mortgage deposits.

DoPay – Provides financial access to people through their corporate payroll.

Gust Pay – Makes music festivals and more cashless using NFC wristbands and smartphone apps.

Katalysator – An in-store experience and payments platform, Katalysator makes it possible to send targeted messages to shoppers based on proximity to products.

Market IQ – Provides actionable intelligence for investment professionals based on both structured (company financials) and unstructured datasets (Social, News, Blogs).

NoviCap – Enables businesses in credit tight markets to quickly access growth financing by auctioning their outstanding invoices to investors.

Tryum – The “Oyster Card” for the restaurant industry – a simple way using one smart card or one app to gain loyalty, redeem rewards and pay for food and drink at your favourite places.

Virtual View – Providing augmented reality, together with interactive 360 degree images for social, retail, and commercial use.

Wagevance – providing an ethical and affordable alternative to payday loans, through wage-backed pay advances.