At the one year mark of my full-time return to Techstars, I am releasing a second edition of the story of my first startup, called “No Vision All Drive” to include the founding of Techstars. In writing the update, I find myself reflecting on how much has changed since my return.
When I co-founded Techstars in 2007 along with David Cohen, Brad Feld and Jared Polis, we set out to create a new model of how startups were created and funded. The idea was born from experiences of starting our own businesses and the frustrations we had with angel investing. While I was involved in the early years of Techstars, it was more as a mentor to some of the teams and an advisor to Techstars overall, but it was not my full time gig. That changed in 2013 when I returned as Managing Partner to join David Cohen and Mark Solon to help lead Techstars. While David and Mark are just as deeply engaged in Techstars as ever, the growing investment activities relating to our venture funds and the expansion of Techstars created a need for additional leadership that I was more than happy to fill.
My focus since I joined Techstars about a year ago has been on the operations of the growing the number of Techstars locations. We currently operate Techstars-branded programs in Austin, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, London, New York and Seattle. In addition, we run similar programs with corporate partners in Kansas City (Sprint, mobile healthcare), London (Barclays, FinTech), Los Angeles (Disney, entertainment), New York (R/GA, connected devices), New York (Kaplan, EdTech) and San Antonio (Cloud). We support all of these locations with a global team of over 50 very talented people in Boulder and at each of the locations.
The power of participating in a Techstars program has shifted over the years. While initially a great way to accelerate and fund a business, the growth of the network has opened new possibilities. The network of hundreds of companies and thousands of mentors and investors in the Techstars system allows our graduates to have unprecedented access to resources around the world with many different sets of experiences and skills.
In addition to this, we have expanded our programs to partner with premier brands, such as Disney, Nike, Barclays, R/GA, Kaplan, and Sprint. These partnerships, along with the vertical focus of their respective programs, have allowed Techstars companies even more access to industry players and expertise.
Our expansion has been deliberate and has been done with a relentless focus on quality over quantity. It is important to us that Techstars remains the gold standard for startups that want to connect their businesses to our network for acceleration, mentoring, business development, funding, and M&A possibilities. We are proud of our companies that have built thriving and valuable enterprises in their own communities. We want to support the idea of many great startup communities around the world, not just a few.
It’s been a great year, but the work is just beginning. Our network is large and powerful, but we need to continue to find new ways to make it even more so and we have plans to do just that. Our mission is to change the way startups are built by arming them with a massive interconnected network of founders, mentors, and investors. We are well on our way, but you should expect even more leverage from our network in 2014 and beyond.