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Mentor: Rand Fishkin, CEO and Co-founder, SEOmoz
Techstars Program: Seattle

Andy Sack tells me your relationship with Techstars started very organically.
That’s true. My first relationship was with Andy but this most recent class I even knew some of the participants, Marcelo Calbucci, in particular. I visited to give a talk about inbound marketing for startups. From that, I met with a few of the teams and have been taking meetings here and there near the SEOmoz offices, chatting with the founders about what they are up to and how I can be of help.

What is about mentoring that makes it worth your time?
I’m extremely passionate about the city of Seattle and the start-up scene here. I’m of the belief that we have far more talent and capability than we get credit for. As a Seattle based startup who has had a nice run of things so far, one thing we have not been lucky with is raising money and part of that stems from a geographic bias that seems to work against us. I’d like to see that change and I know that being a mentor fosters that growth. I want to get us on exciting road maps.

What’s keeping you busy seasonally?
I recently did a speaking event with Hackers and Founders, an organization of about 4,500 people in the early stage technology world in Silicon Valley. Day to day, SEOmoz is growing month over month and we’re up to 50+ employees.

Growth is happening everywhere! The accelerator scene is alive and well.
Agreed. One of the things that excited me about last year was the $100K convertible note for Techstars companies. It encourages founders and people who either more risk-averse or in need of cash flow to to even consider Techstars in the first place. Then when they’re in, you see more energy as a program. These kind of incentives create a higher and higher calibre of companies applying and I think it’s wonderful. I’d love to see an increase in geographic diversity of mentors and the folks that do the actual funding too.

Clare Tischer
Social Media and Content Manager, Techstars