Diverse Startups Do Better: How To Make Yours More Inclusive At Any Stage

“Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.”

—Scientific American, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter

“Our latest research finds that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.”

—McKinsey & Company, “Why diversity matters

As an entrepreneur—and as a human being—you know that having a diverse founding team, advisory board, and team of employees is both the right thing to do and good for business.

Still not sure about this? Check out this terrific article from Scientific American, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” and this McKinsey report on “Why diversity matters.”

Focusing on Diversity & Inclusion can be difficult for busy founders who are trying to get a new company off the ground. That’s why we want to offer some simple and actionable advice for founders about how to create a diverse and inclusive company, starting from the very beginning. This advice is based on Techstars Founders Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, including the Kapor Capital Founders’ Commitments. All participants in our mentorship-driven accelerators sign on to these commitments; we believe that they can be helpful to founders everywhere.  

Set Goals

Setting goals around diversity and inclusion is an important first step. You can’t meet goals you don’t set, so the very act of setting goals is meaningful—even if you don’t meet them yet.

Of course, not all companies are the same, so nor should their goals be identical. In setting your goals, take into account your company’s funding stage, employee size, customer base, and core business.

Keep Yourself Accountable

Now that you’ve got some goals, hold yourself accountable to them. Keep track of how you’re doing, and include progress reports on D&I in your quarterly investor updates.

Review (or Set) Policies

When was the last time you looked at your company’s anti-discrimination and harassment policy? Do you even have one?

Take the time to review your policy, and if you don’t have one yet, set one. A major step toward building an inclusive environment is making sure everyone feels welcome and respected; a good way to do this is to make sure your values are reflected in your priorities.

Here are some samples that you can use:

Example of a non-discrimination policy:

(Your company) is dedicated to the principles of equal employment opportunity in any and all terms, conditions or privileges of employment including hiring, promotions, termination, training and compensation.  (Your Company) does not discriminate against applicants or employees on the basis of age, race, sex, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information or any other status protected by federal, state or local law, where applicable.

Example statement on addressing bullying, discrimination and/or harassment:

A repeated pattern of physical and/or non-physical behaviors that (a) are intended to cause fear, humiliation or annoyance, (b) offend or degrade, (c) create a hostile environment or (d) reflect discriminatory bias in an attempt to establish dominance, superiority or power over an individual athlete or group based on gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression or mental or physical disability; is prohibited.

These are just a few key steps, but if you do all three, you’ll have made a very good beginning toward building a diverse and inclusive company.

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Do you have questions about how to build D&I into your startup?

Come to our AMA on March 1, 2019 at 1:00 pm ET “Diverse Startups Do Better: How To Make Yours More Inclusive At Any Stage” with Jason Thompson, Techstars VP of Diversity & Inclusion and Allyson Downey, weeSpring founder and author of Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood.








Get Help Faster: Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars Spotlight on My Wellbeing, a Therapist-Client Matching Service

Highlights of student-led ventures participating in the LaunchPad Lift Cohort, part of the Blackstone LaunchPad® powered by Techstars® entrepreneurship program

Sometimes we all just need to talk out our worries, stresses, and challenges with someone who is trained to help process the curve balls of life. Unfortunately, most people don’t seek professional care because it’s hard to find the right therapist-client fit.

To solve this problem, My Wellbeing, a student-led venture from New York University’s Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars entrepreneurship program, developed a therapist-client matching service that takes the stress out of finding the right mental health professional and improves retention of care.

Clients answer a five-minute questionnaire identifying their needs and what they’re looking for in a therapist. Within 24 hours, My Wellbeing sends a match and encourages them to schedule a free phone consultation with the therapist. Clients have the option to book the therapist or request another match.

“Ninety four percent of individuals who speak with their therapist by phone express a positive match and schedule an in-person appointment,” says Alyssa Petersel, My Wellbeing founder.

During her Masters in Social Work program, Alyssa discovered that finding mental health services that matched a client’s need was a growing problem, and when a client didn’t feel compatible with a therapist they would cease care.

“One in four Americans are in need of therapy but don’t seek care because they don’t know where to begin. Of those who do go to therapy, over half drop out prematurely because they don’t feel a strong connection with their therapist,” Alyssa explained.

Since the company launched in August 2017, My Wellbeing facilitated over 3,500+ matches. Therapists can sign up to be in the network and matched with clients. My Wellbeing is currently offered in the New York City area, with plans to expand in the near future.

My Wellbeing was selected for the inaugural LaunchPad Lift Cohort, a 10-week personalized mentorship-driven program from Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars for student-led ventures from the United States and Ireland, which comes with a $10,000 grant to help move the business forward.

“We have benefited from the perspective and generosity of countless mentors, without whom we would not be where we are today. We look forward to participating in this exciting new community with Techstars, Blackstone, our mentors and advisors, and our colleagues in our cohort, to #givefirst and grow together,” said Alyssa.

Learn more about Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars HERE

Follow our LaunchPad Lift Cohort series where we highlight each student-led venture.








Techstars and Starburst Announce Space-Focused Accelerator Program With U.S. Government And Corporate Consortium

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, and Israel Aerospace Industries North America (IAI North America) Unite to Disrupt Space Industry

LOS ANGELES and BOULDER, Colo.– Techstars and Starburst announced today their joint effort to help entrepreneurs succeed in aerospace. The Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, a new Los Angeles-based program, will focus on the next generation of space technology companies and related frontier technologies. Matt Kozlov will be the managing director of the program. Matt previously led the Cedars Sinai Accelerator Powered by Techstars in Los Angeles and has invested in over 30 companies. Van Espahbodi, co-founder and managing director of Starburst, will be advising Kozlov and the broader program, applying his experience of accelerating over 300 aerospace startups.

Building on Techstars success running more than 150 accelerator programs around the world with both government entities and Fortune 500 corporations, coupled with Starburst aerospace industry experience and expertise, this new mentorship-driven accelerator has formal sponsorship from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, Israel Aerospace Industries North America (IAI North America), and the U.S. Air Force, with support from The Aerospace Corporation.

With recent technological breakthroughs such as reusable rockets, 3D printing, advanced materials, and miniaturization of satellites (“smallsats”), as well as the introduction and adoption of new business models, the opportunities for entrepreneurs and corporations are unprecedented. New business models will be a focus for the accelerator, and the consortium will be looking to work with startups that have a use case for new space and related technologies in fields such as energy, communications, robotics, and autonomy. Breakthroughs in these industries contribute to why Bank of America Merrill Lynch recently estimated the space economy will be worth more than $3 Trillion by 2045.

“The space industry is massively exciting but also quite complex,” said Matt Kozlov, managing director of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator. “We are bringing together vital industry leaders, both public and private, who will help entrepreneurs navigate the industry and provide unprecedented commercial support and mentorship. We will help founders achieve two years of commercial traction in three months. Given the pedigree of our sponsors, I expect this program will very quickly become a vital resource for entrepreneurs building frontier tech.”

“The list of incredible companies just keeps growing,” said Van Espahbodi, co-founder and managing director of Starburst. “The broader aerospace industry has finally embraced the notion of ‘open innovation’ by partnering with entrepreneurs to co-develop products, with a compelling business plan to match. Starburst is excited to advise the program to ensure early-stage businesses have the appropriate tools to compete in this emerging marketplace.”

Applications for Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator open today. The program, Techstars third accelerator program in California, will kick off in July 2019. Startup companies in commercial space or that are developing related technologies are encouraged to apply. Startup companies looking to connect with program staff prior to applying or to get feedback on their companies are welcome to request Office Hours with Techstars staff.

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About Techstars

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates three divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, and Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,700 companies with a market cap of $18 Billion. www.techstars.com

About Starburst

Starburst is an innovation catalyst in the Aerospace industry. It is the first global Aerospace Accelerator, matching corporates with startups while providing strategic growth consulting for startups and corporations alike. With offices in Los Angeles, Paris, Montreal, Munich, San Francisco and Singapore, the team has built an ecosystem of key players across the Aerospace industry including over 4000+ related startups. Every year Starburst hosts numerous international and national events bringing together Aerospace innovators and puts innovation in the spotlight at international air shows.

www.starburst.aero








David Cohen on The Twenty Minute VC

David Cohen is the founder and co-CEO of Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. To date, David has backed hundreds of startups including the likes of Uber, SendGrid, Twilio, ClassPass, PillPack and more. In total, these investments have gone on to create more than $80B in value. Prior to Techstars, David was a co-founder of Pinpoint Technologies which was acquired by ZOLL Medical Corporation in 1999. Later, David was the founder and CEO of earFeeder, a music service that was sold to SonicSwap. If that was not enough, David is also the co-author (with Brad Feld) of Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup.

David spoke with Harry Stebbings on The Twenty Minute VC to discuss why seed investing is a different asset class to venture, what makes the best and the worst board members, and why every company has to have a pessimist in the room. 

CLICK TO PLAY

CLICK TO LISTEN ON ITUNES

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and David on Twitter here!

 








LaunchPad Lift Spotlight: Shower Stream Aims to Reduce Water Waste, One Shower at a Time

Highlights of student-led ventures participating in the LaunchPad Lift Cohort, part of the Blackstone LaunchPad® powered by Techstars® entrepreneurship program

Early in the morning, you wander into the bathroom and turn on the shower to full hot. While you’re sipping coffee and waiting for the water to warm, gallons of wasted water are flowing down the drain.

In a recent study by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, 70 percent of bathers leave their showers unattended after it’s warm, resulting in $100 “water warm-up waste” per shower per year. For hotel franchises, this waste equals $30M in expenses per year. Across the U.S., this problem could waste two trillion gallons of water, one trillion kWh of energy and $50B annually.

In response to this “shower water warm-up waste,” a student-led venture from UT Austin’s Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars entrepreneurship program developed Shower Stream, a smart shower head adapter that uses motion sensors to release warm water when the person enters the shower. The company aims to reduce water and energy waste without disturbing the customer’s experience and provide analytics on the savings.

Shower Stream’s motion-activated shower head adapter simply screws on behind the existing shower head without disrupting the bathing experience. Through their dashboard, hotel owners can review analytics about their water and energy savings in real-time. Shower Stream states customers receive a one year breakeven and 400 percent, five-year ROI by using their device.

Shower Stream was selected for the inaugural LaunchPad Lift Cohort, a 10-week personalized mentorship-driven program for student-led ventures from the United States and Ireland, as well as a $10,000 grant to help move their business forward.

“Being a part of the LaunchPad Lift Cohort is a very exciting achievement for Shower Stream. Working with world-class mentors from Techstars and gaining access to their impeccable network of successful entrepreneurs and investors will be a huge boon for us,” said Ian Howard and Greg Floyd, Co-founders of Shower Stream. “During the program, we will levy the huge amount of resources provided by Blackstone and Techstars to improve our customer value proposition and secure new partnerships that will allow us to expand quickly in the future.”

Learn more about LaunchPad HERE

Follow our LaunchPad Lift Cohort series where we will be highlighting each student-led venture, stay tuned!








Techstars and Eastern Pacific Shipping Launch First Global MaritimeTech Accelerator in Singapore

Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS), a world leading ship management company, today announced they are jointly launching the world’s first global MaritimeTech accelerator, the EPS MaritimeTech Accelerator Powered by Techstars. Based in Singapore, this new mentorship-driven accelerator program will be Techstars second accelerator in the sovereign city-state.

“Eastern Pacific Shipping is one of the top global players in the merchant maritime space with a clear innovation-driven agenda that’s poised to disrupt the industry,” says Will Robinson, VP of Asia-Pacific Sales. “This partnership is a great match for Techstars, and we’re thrilled to partner with EPS in the world’s maritime and shipping capital and present the market with a catalyst for innovation in this industry. We’re excited to further expand the Techstars brand and network in the APAC region and look forward to working with EPS to support entrepreneurs in their journey to transform this enormous industry”.

The EPS MaritimeTech Accelerator Powered by Techstars will accept applications from startups around the world and ultimately select 10 companies—including the most promising local and regional startups—to participate in the program’s inaugural class. The companies will gather in Singapore for an intensive three month program of research and development, mentorship, and collaboration at EPS headquarters at Millenia Tower in Singapore. We encourage applications from entrepreneurs focused disrupting the maritime industry with technologies related to regulations, fuel efficiency, vessel operations, digitalization, and other subthemes.

Led by a Techstars Managing Director and staff, and augmented by Eastern Pacific leadership and mentors, the experience will culminate in a demo day. At this event, each startup will pitch its newly polished business to an audience of venture capitalists, corporate innovation leaders, and industry experts, with the goal of facilitating investment in the companies while broadening and energizing the local entrepreneurial community.

“The merchant maritime industry is one of the oldest in the world, yet advancements in the business come slowly, lagging behind the latest technological trends that other mature industries readily adopt,” says Gil Ofer, Business Development Manager of EPS. “Eastern Pacific Shipping aims to address this long-standing issue by partnering with Techstars to launch the world’s first global MaritimeTech accelerator to cultivate and mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs in an industry that is ripe for disruption.”

Applications for the EPS MaritimeTech Accelerator Powered by Techstars will open in April 2019 and the program will begin in November 2019. Startups interested in the program are encouraged to learn more on the EPS MaritimeTech Accelerator Powered by Techstars page, or express interest using the Office Hours form. If you’re a corporation interested in learning about Techstars Accelerator corporate partnerships, click here.

About Techstars

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars founders and their teams connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporate partners who will help their companies grow. Techstars operates three divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs and Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships. Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs help founders do more faster and Techstars Startup Programs inspire, educate and connect entrepreneurs. Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships helps brands supercharge growth by accelerating innovation and cultural transformation. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,600 companies with a market cap of $18.2 Billion. www.techstars.com

About Eastern Pacific Shipping

Eastern Pacific Shipping Pte. Ltd., also known as EPS, is an industry leading global ship management company headquartered in Singapore. EPS manages a young, diverse and dynamic fleet of over 130 vessels with a combined tonnage of over 13,000,000 deadweight tons. These vessels span across the tanker, bulk, container, pure car and truck, gas and chemical segments, and are managed by 200 skilled shore staff and 4,600 dedicated sea staff. EPS offers a full suite of in-house ship management services such as technical, commercial, operations and crewing. With 30 newbuilds set to join its fleet in the next few years, Eastern Pacific Shipping is poised to remain a leader in the maritime industry. For the latest news from EPS, visit easternpacific.com.sg.








Techstars and 43North Partner to Grow Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Buffalo

Buffalo, NY — January 31, 2019 — Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and 43North, New York State’s startup competition that invests $5 million annually to attract and cultivate startups in Buffalo, NY, are partnering on a multi-year program to further develop and scale the Western New York entrepreneurial ecosystem. Together, Techstars and 43North will build a self-sustaining coalition of entrepreneurs, corporate partners, local and national investors, government and academic leaders, and startup enthusiasts within the community.

In addition, Techstars announces the formal launch of the Techstars Startup Ecosystem Development program. The Techstars Startup Ecosystem Development program offers economic and government leaders at the state and city level research, program management staff, and services to support the rapid injection of key ingredients into city infrastructure and leadership—all with the goal of driving economic development and job growth. Techstars is launching with Buffalo as the inaugural city for the Techstars Startup Ecosystem Development Program.

“Techstars sought a community that had a blend of passion, population size, and the organizational commitment to take their ecosystem and supersize it,” said Chris Heivly, vice president of Innovation at Techstars. “Buffalo already has a burgeoning ecosystem with strong players such as 43North, Launch NY, and University at Buffalo. While Techstars is partnering with 43North on this initiative, the Techstars Startup Ecosystem Development program is a community-wide effort, and Techstars will focus on increasing the existing collaboration in the community.”

Techstars began its work on this initiative in the fall by researching the current state of the Buffalo entrepreneurial ecosystem through a series of interviews and surveys. Techstars officials then used this information and Techstars data on building ecosystems in other communities to create a roadmap for the future growth of Western New York’s startup community.

“I have long believed that in the modern era, you can start a scalable, high-growth company almost anywhere, and every metropolitan area with over 100,000 people should have a thriving startup community.” Brad Feld, co-founder of Techstars and partner at Foundry Group.

Techstars Startup Ecosystem Development program for Buffalo includes providing mentorship to 43North companies and other Buffalo startups; coaching and facilitating interactions with Western New York mentors, community leaders, investors, and potential investors; producing year-round events and programming; forging connections with Techstars global network; producing and posting digital content about the Buffalo ecosystem; and conducting ongoing measurement of the progress of Buffalo’s startup community.

Techstars is currently seeking a Buffalo-based Executive Director who will work with Techstars executives, a small Buffalo staff, and the 43North team to execute the plan.

“Whether you’re looking at the number of startups, the volume of venture capital, or the engagement of our community’s leaders, Buffalo’s startup ecosystem is the strongest that it has ever been. While we are encouraged by our recent growth and success, we have an opportunity to double down on our efforts to build our entrepreneurial community into one that generates jobs and prosperity for generations to come,” said Eric Reich, 43North board chair. “Techstars is one of the world’s most respected organizations for supporting startups and building startup communities, making them the ideal partner to help Buffalo and 43North take the next steps on our journey. We are excited to welcome them to Buffalo and to work collaboratively across the ecosystem to deliver the results that this great community deserves.”

“Buffalo’s startup ecosystem has made significant progress, and the partnership between Techstars and 43North is a strategic commitment to support its continued growth and regional economic impact,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky.

The Techstars Startup Ecosystem Development program in Buffalo is a partnership with 43North, with support from M&T Bank, National Grid, and others to be announced.

To learn more about the Techstars Startup Ecosystem Development program, join Techstars and 43North for an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) on Ecosystem Development on February 28, 2019, at 3 pm EST. The AMA will be recorded.

About Techstars

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates three divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, and Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,700 companies with a market cap of $18 Billion. www.techstars.com

About 43North

43North is New York State’s startup competition that invests $5 million annually to attract and cultivate high-growth startups in Buffalo. 43North portfolio companies also receive free incubator space in Buffalo for one year, guidance from mentors in related fields, and access to other business incentive programs such as START-UP NY. 43North operates through the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, Empire State Development and several other sponsors. For more information about 43North, visit www.43north.org.

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Media contact:

Joanie Kindblade
Techstars
Joanie.kindblade@techstars.com
303.562.6230

Peter Burakowski
43North
Peter@43north.org








10 Companies Redesigning the Financial Sector: Welcome to the 2019 Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars in London

By Kartik Varma and Chris Adelsbach

We are thrilled to announce and to welcome 10 exciting companies to the 2019 Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars in London.

Starting in the summer last year, we were on a mission to recruit the 10 best teams to join our programme. While many of our companies are based in Europe, our teams are incredibly global and diverse, coming from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and of course Europe. Companies in this class span financial services for the gig economy, cyber security, creation of new asset classes, risk management, credit card loyalty, insurance, asset leasing, and enterprise software.

It is a privilege to work with some of the best entrepreneurial talent around the world: they are redesigning the financial sector. Currently in its sixth year, the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars has solidified its reputation as the preeminent and most selective fintech programme in the world. Our growing list of successful alumni companies that are transforming financial services, like Everledger, Flux and Cuvva, is a testament to what our two powerful networks bring to the programme.

Barclays is shaping the banking landscape around the world at a time of rapid technological change and is the first partner of choice for some of the most promising fintech startups. Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed: the 1,600 portfolio companies of our 41 accelerators have raised over $6.5 billion in capital. Together, Barclays and Techstars are able to offer young companies the acceleration they need to set them on the path to success.

We’d like to thank our mentors, global partners, sponsors, and alumni for their time and generous support. We look forward to another great cohort—and to presenting these companies to you on Demo Day at Rise London on May 2, 2019!.

Trezeo

Trezeo offers the self-employed, particularly gig economy workers, financial services that turn unpredictable income into a regular pay cheque through an income smoothing solution.

www.trezeo.com

Spark Change

Spark is a financial instrument that makes investing in carbon as easy as investing in the stock market, allowing individuals to erase their carbon footprint.

www.sparkchange.io

UrbanFox

Urban Fox provides fraud detection and prevention software to enterprise scale merchants and payment processors targeting fraudsters who create fake online identities.

www.urbanfox.io

Smarter Human

Smarter Human’s technology lets digital banks and fintech firms manage operational risk as a part of the agile product delivery lifecycle so that managing risk and compliance is no longer a bottleneck to innovation.

www.smarter-human.com

Paid

Paid’s platform allows micro businesses and freelancers to get paid on time through its invoice financing at scale for low value invoices.

www.paid.co.uk

Photocert

Photocert’s software solution establishes and certifies the validity of visual evidence helping businesses like general insurance, on-demand asset rentals, and document certification to operate with efficiency and security reducing incidents of fraud and misinformation.

www.photocert.co.uk

Krowd

Krowd’s offer bidding marketplace provides personalized card linked offers to retailers and credit card issuers, allowing retailers to increase customer acquisition and retention and card issuers to increase usage.

www.krowdit.com

 

Inbotiqa

Inbotiqa’s enterprise business email solution aimed towards high volume and group mailboxes in financial institutions improves productivity and customer service levels through workflow management in middle and back offices.

www.inbotiqa.com

Capexmove

Capexmove’s software lets companies issue programmable debt to create tradable units, and thereafter track and settle them at a fraction of the cost of the current debt capital markets.

www.capexmove.io

Block Aviation

Block Aviation’s aircraft asset management software is creating a shared information platform to be used across the aviation ecosystem, reducing the cost of redelivery and facilitating efficient novations of aircraft leases.

www.blockaviation.com








The Compare Game For Startup Community Leaders

by Chris Heivly, Entrepreneur in Residence at Techstars

My children are all adults now (that does not mean I am done being a parent) and I am reminded of one of my pet peeves that siblings seem to do all the time. That pet peeve is complaining about what they did not get as compared to what their sibling received. I used to call it the compare game and my kids all knew that was a hot button for me and thus to not use that in any of their arguments.

I find that that the same compare game is weaseling itself back into my soul as I work with startup communities around the world. We have all seen this in the rankings of various startup communities. I too am both a victim and purveyor of this. I am sorry, I am trying to rid myself of the ploy.

One of my mantras is this: Startup communities are like children—they should never be compared.

You see, on one hand, community leaders need a way to evaluate how well they are doing. On the other hand, the same leaders get caught up in using other communities’ attributes as a marker or milestone to set up goals for their community.

I feel like I am back listening to my children again. “If Jessie got a new pair of ice skates, then I should get a new pair, too!” Never mind that her sister did not ice skate or even care that much for ice skating.

In community speak, it might sound something like this, “Columbus, Ohio has a $100M new venture fund, I should get one, too,” says every Midwest city.

I firmly believe that the source of this thinking is rooted in a very simple motivation—we don’t know how to do this, and if something works for someone else, I need to do it too. By the way, we have no idea if that action on the part of the Columbus community will do anything to help inspire more entrepreneurs or help build better companies or result in more jobs.

Startup community building is a nuanced game with a thousand small actions that hopefully conspire to create an environment where great things can happen. It’s that simple—and that complex.

Passionate about building your community? Take a much closer look at the tools, the actions, the activities that community builders are deploying, and dig in deep as to their actual efficacy. Then experiment in your own community and see what helps move your community forward.

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Building a startup community in your city? Try organizing a Techstars Startup Weekend. All the other startup communities are doing it.








3 Tips for Startups Looking to Stand Out to Corporate Partners

By Kate Drane, Techstars Network Engagement Manager

Hey founders: Did you know that at any given time, your startup may be in the process of being considered for a game-changing opportunity? It’s true!

As a Techstars Network Engagement Manager, a critical part of my role is to serve as a matchmaker between our corporate partners and Techstars portfolio companies. My team and I pore through our portfolio a few times a week, searching for amazing companies that best match the needs of our corporate partners. In addition, most corporations and investment teams have at least one team member that serves a similar role, and our need is the same: we are on the hunt for innovative startups (like yours!).

Whether or not you’re part of the Techstars network, if your company’s goals include entering into a strategic partnership with a corporate partner, securing investment, or attracting new customers, here are a few tips that any founder can take to better position their company to stand out:

Tip #1: Optimize your website

Oftentimes your website is the first place a corporate partner will look for information about your company.

  • Make it easy for someone to quickly understand your company by having a one to two sentence description that can be copy-pasted from your homepage.
  • Include the logos of your clients (especially if they are other corporations). This can serve as a proof point to a potential corporate partner that you have the infrastructure to work with them.
  • Many corporations have firewalls that prohibit them from visiting unsecure sites, so be sure to encrypt your website.

Tip #2: Ensure that your social media is up to date

Your social media presence can play a powerful role in helping to create a holistic view of your company.

  • Crunchbase and AngelList are two commonly leveraged tools to provide publicly available funding information and more. Visit your profiles on both, and if any of your information is out of date, use these instructions to make updates: AngelList and Crunchbase.
  • Routinely update your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles. Your social presence helps to demonstrate that your company is active and thriving.

Tip #3: Update Connect (this applies to Techstars portfolio companies only)

Here at Techstars we are committed to the notion of “Techstars for Life,” and that means bringing additional value to our portfolio companies both during and after they have completed their program. For Techstars founders, our internal platform, Connect, serves as an important tool to help us identify startups that fit specific opportunities.

  • Visit your company’s Connect profile, and ensure that all of your information is up to date. Taking this small action can be a game-changer. For example, some corporate partners may be on the lookout to meet with startups in their region, and when our team has the correct data, it ensures that we can connect them with you (double opt-in, of course).

This list is by no means exhaustive, however taking these small but important steps will help to position your company for the magic of engineered serendipity. Who knows, a game-changing opportunity may be trying to find you right now!

I would love to hear from you. What steps has your startup taken to stand out? Leave your best advice in the comments.

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Learn more about how the the Techstars Network Engagement Program helps corporations and startups work together—to the benefit of both.