Graduating the First Full Class of Techstars Anywhere

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 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. (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!

Is a Virtual Accelerator the Right Fit for Your Company?

Aiming to fund and work with companies wherever they happen to be located, Techstars Anywhere delivers a full Techstars program through a (mostly) virtual accelerator experience.

Instead of relocating to another city and working from a shared office for three months, Techstars Anywhere uses technology and the power of the Techstars worldwide network to bring the accelerator to you, wherever your company happens to be.

What’s Different?

The Techstars Anywhere Accelerator provides the same investment of capital, time, team and network as other Techstars accelerator programs. While the investment is the same, Techstars Anywhere delivers the full Techstars Accelerator value differently. The program is designed to allow a different kind of accelerator experience which can be a better fit for certain companies.

Mentor Network

One of the differences of Techstars Anywhere is how our distributed mentor network is built. By removing geographical barriers, Techstars Anywhere leverages all of the Techstars global network to build a network around you and bring the right mentors for your company, regardless of where they happen to be. With a highly tailored mentor pool, founders from any given industry, technology or market get an unfair advantage to build a successful business from #anywhere.

Mostly Virtual

Your Techstars experience is built largely on the relationships you build in the program. Therefore, while the majority of Techstars Anywhere happens online, the program is designed to allow founders to spend the right amount of time in person.

We start the first week of the program together in a Techstars accelerator location for an intense orientation week. The class meets again in person during weeks six and 12.

While we’re together, we optimize for network and relationship building amongst founders, mentors, investors and Techstars alumni. We carefully select locations with a dense Techstars network. For our first class, we visited Boulder, San Francisco and New York.

Working Remotely

Aside from the the time we spend in person, most of the program takes place online. You work from your office or home and access all meetings and program sessions through video conference. We are heavy users of Slack and other tools for distributed teams.

We are connected all day, every day to make sure you’re getting the support you need to move your business forward.

It’s an intense program to help you #domorefaster. Schedule and intensity will vary in different parts of the program but in a typical week of Techstars Anywhere, you can expect regular check-ins with the class, several mentor meetings, deep dives with the program team, peer founder calls, workshops and sessions with experienced founders and investors.

Flexibility & Focus

The nature of Techstars Anywhere allows us to deliver an extremely intensive experience that is balanced with the flexibility of working on your own schedule, rhythm and location (whether you’re home or traveling).

The program features fewer social events and we prioritize for camaraderie and network building during the times we spend together on the program trips. We’ve learned that this format allows a high degree of focus so you can get a lot more done!

Fundraising Support

One of the goals of Techstars is to help you fundraise successfully (when that’s what’s right for your company). At Techstars Anywhere, you’ll learn how to manage your fundraising process, refine your pitch, and meet the right investors for the industry and geography that’s relevant to your business. You’ll also learn how to leverage the Techstars network to access the right investors for your company.

Demo Day will be one of the elements of your fundraising process. Techstars Anywhere Demo Day is virtual and investors come from #anywhere! Each company’s fundraising plan will be different, so we work with each company to build the right investor pipeline based on their industry and geography. We work with each company to identify, approach and effectively build a relationship with the right investors no matter where they happen to be.

When Techstars Anywhere can be the Right Choice for Your Company

Designed differently, Techstars Anywhere delivers a full Techstars accelerator through a (mostly) virtual experience. From nature of the product, company stage or a geographically relevant customer base, there are different reasons why relocation may be suboptimal for certain companies. Personal working styles and life situations may also be reasons why Techstars Anywhere can be a better fit for you.

If that’s the case, apply here for Techstars Anywhere by Oct 15. If you want to know more, please join Ryan and me for our next AMA here.

Apply for Startup Next Cyber in Partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton in DC until September 11th

Startup Next is a 6-week pre-acceleration program for idea-stage startups, where founders get together once a week for a 3-hour session. By pairing founders with mentors, the program provides education, guidance and valuable connections to help startups on the next step of their entrepreneurial journey.

Startup Next Cyber in partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton will allow startups to work directly with Booz Allen Hamilton mentors and executives.

The program will be lead by entrepreneur and investor Jason Chen of VentureScope, who is bringing along some of the best mentors in the DC startup ecosystem, including Mark Newberg, Director of Impact Strategies at Womble Carlyle.

In addition, some of the program mentors from Booz Allen Hamilton will include Brian Green (VP, Cyber), Brad Stone (VP, Cyber Futures), Nyla Beth Gawel (Principal, IoT and Strategic Alliances) and Gregory Starkey (Principal, Cyber). 

The program will take place at Booz Allen Hamilton in DC from September 22nd through November 3rd, 2016. The deadline to apply is September 11th. Find out more information and apply here!

Announcing the launch of Startup Next AppLink Mobility Edition, presented by Ford

Are you a startup looking to change the way the world moves? Here’s your big opportunity to show your idea on a global stage. We are partnering with Ford’s “Make it Driveable” AppLink Mobility challenge in Berlin in September.

Five winners of the challenge will be awarded a spot to participate in the Startup Next AppLink Mobility Edition, presented by Ford. Startup Next is a pre-acceleration program for a small group of idea stage startups. By pairing founders with mentors, the program provides valuable connections to get teams prepared to join an accelerator, raise a seed round or just continue their entrepreneurial journey.

Startup Next is a 6-week non-resident program where startups meet once a week for three hour sessions with workshop, pitch practice and mentor breakouts. The program is free of charge and no equity is taken.

Startup Next AppLink Mobility Edition kicks off this fall in Berlin. The six-week program consists of weekly 2-3 hour sessions with mentors designed to accelerate founders’ entrepreneurial journeys.

This is our second partnership with Ford, building on the success of Techstars Mobility, driven by Ford, our accelerator in Detroit.

Learn more about the challenge here.

Applications Open for Startup Next, Cyber Security Edition presented by Booz Allen Hamilton

Techstars launched a partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton in early 2016 focused on cyber security startups. After our successful Startup Weekend cyber security edition event in the new innovation center, applications for the second Techstars program are open!

Startup Next, presented by Booz Allen Hamilton, will bring together teams from within Booz Allen Hamilton and the top D.C.-based cyber security startups.

Startup Next is a Techstars program that helps startups grow by providing high quality mentorship, a proven curriculum, and access to a global network of investors, mentors, and founders. The six-week program consists of weekly 2-3 hour sessions, which means founders are able to continue building their product, while receiving top quality mentorship and getting access to the global network of Startup Next.

Startups innovating in the field of cyber security to level the playing field against new and emerging cybercrime tactics are recommended to apply for this pre-accelerator program, along with companies that are creating game-changing technologies in the field of cyber security.

According to Forbes, the cyber security market is expected to grow from $75 billion in 2015 to $170 billion by 2020. From banking and connected cars to mobile health, tremendous growth in cyber security is inevitable.

“Most people are starting to realize that there are only two different types of companies in the world: those that have been breached and know it and those that have been breached and don’t know it. Therefore, prevention is not sufficient and you’re going to have to invest in detection because you’re going to want to know what system has been breached as fast as humanly possible so that you can contain and remediate.”   -Ted Schlein, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

These startups will leave the six week program with a wealth of information and new connections to help them take the next step in their entrepreneurial journey. Booz Allen Hamilton will provide cyber security-related expertise and mentorship throughout the program. Startups will expand their network by meeting new contacts that will help their startup grow and learn how to accept feedback in important areas such as communication, technical abilities and leadership skills.

Deadline for applications is September 4, 2016.

Startups interested in applying to Startup Next Cyber Security, presented by Booz Allen Hamilton can apply here.

What’s Next After Startup Next?

A few weeks ago, we flew a group of 12 startups from 34 different countries to meet Techstars Managing Directors in Las Vegas.

Instead of a traditional pitch event, where there is usually little time to interact with investors, we opted for a more cozy format that allowed the founders to have in-depth discussions after the pitches. Startups did not pitch for an investment, but for advice (that’s how you get there!).

Founders addressed their top challenges and things they needed help with and got a great amount of valuable feedback, advice and intros from 15 Managing Directors of Techstars accelerators. Above all, they established relationships that we hope will remain meaningful throughout their entrepreneurial journey.

“Being in Vegas with Startup Next and Techstars was an incredible opportunity for MakerBloks, not only to gather direct feedback about our product, but also to meet numerous retailers, distributors and manufacturers.”
 – Francois, from MakerBloks (Montreal)


Eight of the Startup Next alumni also made a presence at CES by showcasing their products at booths and pitching on the Techstars startup stage.

“In the last 30 minutes at CES we got introduced to two national financial education leaders, including one who has been a key advisor to three U.S. Presidents! Can it get any better than that?”
– Seamus, from 
PennyOwl (NYC)

So you wonder, have some of these teams already made it into Techstars? What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! Stay tuned and apply to Startup Next.

Applications are officially open for 10 cities running Startup Next this spring: Apply now!

Startup Next London Class

Jon Bradford and I are thrilled announce that later today we will be launching the first Startup Next pre-accelerator in London. Even more proud to announce the 12 teams that have chosen to participate.

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