‘Farm to Fork’ – almost everyone has an immediate reaction or assumption when they hear this phrase. We are excited to partner with Cargill and Ecolab and I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what we are thinking about for the first Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator.
Broadly speaking, the digital side of the food value chain is of most interest to us. This could be companies building smart devices, working with big data, artificial intelligence or creating a new software solution. Challenges to food are not limited by geography nor rural or urban settings.
The space is incredibly broad and there is no way we could put together an exhaustive list of opportunities that may catch our eye, but here are a few specific areas of interest to get us started:
Two easy questions to ask when defining this bucket: Does it make a farmer’s life better, more sustainable or more productive? How can we help farmers do more with less? From weather and climate to animal health and productivity to computer vision, this bucket alone is big. Here are a few more areas of interest:
- Smart Water Usage
- Ag Finance
- Payment Systems
- Yield Management/Prediction
- Risk Management
- Animal Health / Animal Productivity
- Weather/Climate Systems
- Computer Vision
Food & Safety
A very popular topic in 2017, food & safety will continue to be a hot topic into the foreseeable future. When we think about food safety, we think about it across the entire value chain. This includes the safety of employees working in the space, the safety of the end consumer – anyone that eats, pest control and animal health and safety. Big data, machine vision, blockchain, and new software systems are all tools entrepreneurs are using to tackle these problems and we are excited to see what’s out there. For us food safety goes beyond just “safe food.”
Food Retail & Restaurants
How and where consumers find and eat their food is changing. Is technology going to have the same effect on brick and mortar grocers or restaurants that it has had on traditional retailers? We have already seen several trends begin to take off that are driven by technology including food with a story, farm to consumer, food ecommerce, and food delivery all of which are interesting. Beyond these how entrepreneurs tackle prepackaged foods, restaurant management and health and nutrition could all be interesting. I am excited to see how entrepreneurs are innovating in this space.
Food Manufacturing & Supply Chain
Another really large bucket, it’s everything between the farm and the fork! I have always loved companies tackling real problems in areas that may be a bit less “sexy.” From machinery to the financial tools that make the supply chain run, there is a ton of potential here. Here are a few themes in this space that are interesting:
- Sustainable Supply Chain
- Cold Chain
- Last Mile
- Quality Contro
- Energy Consumption
- Computer Vision
- Predictive Modeling
- Futures and Automated Trading
- Fraud Prevention
- Smart Devices/IoT
Roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. This is almost one trillion dollars worth of food each year which equates to about one billion tonnes of food. One Billion! About 2/3rd of this waste comes from industrialized countries and the other 1/3rd occurs in developing countries. The problem doesn’t stop with food; water waste is also a major issue. Tackling these problems will be a major path to feeding and providing sustainable, safe water for the world’s growing population.
Are you working on a solution for the areas mentioned above? Applications are open, apply today!
Feel free to send me an email to connect – firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be on the road over the next few months. Look out for us in NYC, Miami, San Francisco, Memphis, Kansas City, Omaha, Austin, Boston, and maybe a few others! Stay tuned to Techstars social media for updates.
Are you and your company ready for Techstars?
As you may know, Techstars Mentorship-driven accelerator programs invest in founders to help them do more faster. Over the past decade Techstars has helped more than 1,200 companies grow and raise over $4.4 billion in funding, with a portfolio market cap of $11 billion.
And now we are on a quest to find the next wave of companies to join the Techstars worldwide network. Our Managing Directors, program staff, and mentors cannot wait to provide personalized hands-on mentorship to scale your business.
Today applications open for three special programs located around the world. Apply now to take the next step in your journey and begin to access the best network for mentors, investors, corporate partners, and customers.
- Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars | Tel Aviv | Start Date May 27, 2018
- Techstars Impact Accelerator | Austin | Start Date June 4, 2018
- METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars | Berlin | Start Date April 23, 2018
We choose only the very best companies to join a Techstars mentorship-driven accelerator program, where we invest $120K, provide hands-on mentorship, and lifetime access to the Techstars worldwide network. Techstars is the only tech accelerator to offer and standby our Equity Back Guarantee.
Entrepreneurs who are accepted into a Techstars mentorship-driven accelerator program quickly realize it is so much more than a three-month commitment. When you join the Techstars Worldwide Network, you become part of Techstars for life. Just listen to stories about our founders from Techstars alumni companies like SendGrid, ClassPass, and DigitalOcean.
We will be announcing details for information sessions and online events where you can connect with Techstars alumni founders leading innovative companies, as well as experienced mentors who have the proven track record to help you succeed. Be on the lookout for updates.
Techstars Music invests in startups solving problems for the growing global music business
Techstars Music 2018 accelerator starts in Los Angeles on February 5, 2018, and right now we’re in the midst of a worldwide tour to meet founders who are solving real problems for the global music business. Applications close on October 15th and we’ll be making our final selections around December 15th.
In 2017, we invested in 11 startups (more info here) that have gone on to raise more than $15M collectively. Six of those 11 companies came to LA from outside the United States, a ratio we expect to continue in our 2018 class.
Why? Well, the world loves music, and music is driving digital culture everywhere. A big part of the Techstars Music strategy is our deep cooperation with the global music business. We believe cooperation produces greater return on investment.
Our member companies (and there is more exciting news to come here soon!) are Warner Music Group, Harmonix Music Systems, Q Prime Management, Bill Silva Entertainment, Silva Artist Management, Era of the Engineer, and Sony Music. These global leaders provide more than capital, they run the program with us, helping at every step of the process, from selection to mentoring to business development and even follow-on investment. Their diversity of skills and talent help the startups in our program gain real, planetary advantage.
So, what kind of startups are we looking for? Techstars Music is for startups working on scalable solutions for:
- New music experiences for home, venue, festival, mobile & connected devices
- Music creation, collaboration & sharing
- Direct-to-consumer marketing, ticketing & eCommerce
- Content infrastructure & delivery
- Royalties, reporting, rights management & licensing
- Data mining & machine learning
- Music education for digital natives
- Technology-based artist discovery, management & services
- Event and crowd safety
Where are we going? Better question is where *aren’t* we going. We’ve already been to Mexico, Japan, Australia, Canada, Boston, Denver, looking for the world’s best technical and business talent… with 10 countries and dozens of cities still to go.
Is Techstars Music the right accelerator program for you? Take a look at events below and request a meeting to show us what you are working on. Apply online here, with more information available here. Applications close October 15th, so get after it!
See you out there!
-Bob Moczydlowsky, @bobmoz
Managing Director, Techstars Music
Find us on tour!
October 5th — Atlanta, Georgia, USA
October 12th – Prague, Czech Republic
RSVP for Prague Meetup event
October 13th – Budapest, Hungary
RSVP for Budapest Meetup event
October 14th – Vienna, Austria
RSVP for Vienna Meetup event
October 16th – New York, New York, USA
Sign up for NYC Office Hours
October 26th – Tokyo, Japan
Sign up for Tokyo Office Hours
November 1st and November 2nd – Los Angeles, CA, USA
Sign up for LA Office Hours
November 7th – London, England
Sign up for London Office Hours
November 10th – Paris, France
Sign up for Paris Office Hours
November 13th – Berlin, Germany
Sign up for Berlin Office Hours
November 30th – Stockholm, Sweden
Sign up for Stockholm Office Hours
PS — Can’t leave a musical post without a song… this one seems to fit perfectly:
Here at Techstars, we are on a mission to help entrepreneurs succeed. Over the past 10 years we have helped over 1,000 companies grow and raise over $3.5 billion in funding, with a market cap of $9.6 billion. Now we’re on a search for the next wave of companies to join our worldwide network! Our managing directors and program staff cannot wait to discover you and your company’s potential.
Today applications are open for multiple Techstars mentorship driven accelerator programs, distributed all around the world. Apply now to take the next step in your journey and join the Techstars Worldwide Network with more than 10,000 mentors, partners, investors and founders.
We are also excited to open applications for three new programs: Techstars Anywhere Accelerator (our new mostly-virtual program), Techstars Dubai Accelerator in Partnership with GINCO, and the Techstars Toronto Accelerator.
This is more than a three month program, the Techstars Worldwide Network is for life. Listen to stories about our founders from Techstars alumni companies like SendGrid, ClassPass, and DigitalOcean.
Application deadline is October 15, 2017 for this session that kicks off in early 2018.
We will be announcing details for information sessions and online events where you can connect with Techstars founders leading innovative startups, as well as mentors who have the experience and proven track record to help you succeed. Be on the lookout for more details soon.
When you apply, you can choose from any of the following locations and verticals:
- Techstars Anywhere Accelerator (Mostly-virtual)
- Techstars Austin Accelerator
- Techstars Berlin Accelerator
- Techstars Boston Accelerator
- Techstars Boulder Accelerator
- Techstars Dubai Accelerator in Partnership with GINCO NEW!
- Techstars Music Accelerator
- Techstars NYC Accelerator
- Techstars Seattle Accelerator
- Techstars Toronto Accelerator NEW!
- The Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars – London
We recently held AMA sessions about applying to an accelerator program. To help answer questions, we had Lesa Mitchell, managing director for Techstars Kansas City, and Jenny Fielding, managing director for Techstars IoT in New York City.
What are common mistakes to avoid when applying to an accelerator?
Jenny: If you send an incomplete application, meaning you don’t put a video of your product and of the founders, that’s going to be really hard for us. You have to understand that we get thousands and thousands of applications, so the first thing we do is look at the founder video. If you don’t put that in, that’s really tough for us. Similarly, the product video is very helpful.
Another common mistake is being very verbose and writing paragraphs and paragraphs. This is not a college essay, this is all about being concise and making your point. I encourage you to think it through. If you tend to be long-winded, then have someone edit it.
Another mistake is the question in the application where it asks if you could list a few competitors, and people say ‘none.’ That always gives me pause, because I’m pretty sure that there are people in the space that you are working in. They may be thinking about it differently, but you need to know your market.
Another thing I would say is that you can wait for the night before, but the thing I would encourage you to do is try to make contact with people that are running these programs before you apply. If you just send in an application, you’ve never been to any of our events and you’ve never had any contact with us, and you send it in the night before, sometimes that’s not the best approach.
Although we look at and read every single application, my strong advice is get to know us before and apply early. That way, as we read them we can get back to you and schedule something or contact you if we see something missing.
Lesa: There is no such thing as being too simple when describing what you’re doing. You want to do it in a way that investors and customers can understand. Keep it as simple as possible in terms of trying to help us understand the problems that you’re solving with your company.
We recently held AMA sessions about applying to an accelerator program. To help answer questions, we had Jenny Fielding, managing director of Techstars IoT in New York City, and Ted Serbinski, managing director for Techstars Mobility in Detroit. We often get asked about how startups can talk about traction when applying for an accelerator program. We asked Jenny and Ted to weigh in with their advice.
How important is traction when selecting a startup?
Jenny: We want to see passionate founders that are working on a life mission, and probably that they haven’t founded the company two days ago. We really want to see some data points. There isn’t one metric in terms of traction, it’s just that you have been executing whatever you said you were going to be executing. If you were going to get a website up, you were going to get some utility or transaction in that, and you did all those things. Then you’ve moved onto the next stage, you’ve gained some early customers. All of these things are considered traction. There really isn’t one answer to the traction question. It’s really that you’re moving on in the journey, and that you’re not just talking about it. Watch the answer here.
Ted: There’s definitely no one size fits all to traction. One of my best performing companies came into the program with very little traction, but it was clear that they could build something, and they demonstrated that. I’ve also seen companies with lots of traction and real revenue struggle, too. So the traction doesn’t mean good or bad, but at this point it’s a data point to give more understanding around that company.
We’re looking for companies that can execute and really build something that can create value. In the 90-day period of Techstars, you don’t create diamonds without a lot of pressure.
If you put a lot of pressure on these companies and they can’t execute or build anything, and they can’t get traction, they’re going to have a hard time outside of the program. If this is pre-program with a lot less pressure and they still can’t execute, there’s going to be a lot more pressure in the program. One size does not fit all, but traction does help us understand if the team can execute at large. Watch the answer here.
In 2015 and 2016, Techstars ran the first two programs focused on hospitality with our partner, METRO, Europe’s largest wholesaler to restaurants and hotels.
The 21 companies that went through the programs have now raised over $50 million in capital. While this is very exciting, we are anticipating another benefit that we think can add serious value to startups: lead generation.
Over the last year, METRO has quietly been building up the Horeca.Digital unit. This subsidiary markets digital solutions to restaurants and hotels across five countries in Europe (Germany, France, Austria, Italy, and Spain). In those five countries, there is a dedicated sales force that does nothing but market digital products.
Now, every startup that goes through the METRO Accelerator for Hospitality, Powered by Techstars has the opportunity to run a pilot with Horeca.Digital. In this pilot, we test lead generation of the product with the Horeca.Digital sales force. If successful, there is potential for a multi-year lead generation agreement.
Over the last month, Horeca.Digital has delivered over 1,000 warm leads to one startup with which they have just signed a deal. Now this company has been scrambling to hire salespeople. What a problem to have!
If you run a startup where your product is aimed towards restaurants or hotels, you should apply for this program. Here are the details of what you’ll receive:
- An offer of 120.000€ of investment
- Mentorship from and access to key METRO and Techstars executives and leaders, other hospitality industry leaders, venture capitalists, and experienced entrepreneur
- An opportunity to test with METRO lead generation of your product to restaurants or hotels in one country (Germany, France, Austria, Italy, or Spain)
- Free dedicated working space in the heart of Berlin for the duration of the program
- A Demo Day in December 2017, where each team will present their company and product to hundreds of investors
- The chance to become a member of the METRO and Techstars alumni network for life
If you are interested in joining the METRO Accelerator for Hospitality, Powered by Techstars, apply before the final deadline on June 30th. If you apply before April 30th, we will be able to help give you feedback on your application.
We held an AMA with Cody Simms, Greg Rogers (Executive Directors) and Nicole Glaros (Chief Product Officer) of Techstars where they answered questions from founders about applying to an accelerator. This post includes a transcript of their answers to these question in this AMA. To sign up for our next AMA, check out the schedule here!
How many active users are needed on a live running website/app to be considered by an accelerator program?
Cody: There is no answer to that question, at least when it comes to Techstars. I assume a lot of other programs are looking at things the same way. The most important thing we are looking for when you are applying and when we are looking at companies that are looking into a program is an awesome team.
We are looking for founders who have a killer drive toward the idea that they are looking to do, as well as founders that show that they can execute.
That is sort of in line with how many active users need to be on a site, but not specifically. We also look for founders who have really great chemistry and complement each other as a team. So, the team dynamic is by far the most important thing we are looking for.
One of the things that I think is really important: when it comes time to showing signs of execution, that doesn’t mean you need to be at 10,000, 100,000 or 1 million daily active users, but the more you are showing that people want your product, the better.
What I always look for are signs that you, as a founder, know how to test hypotheses in your business and can come back with the answers – showing that you are making progress along those lines. So you may still even be pre-product, but you are showing signs that you know how to understand what the market wants about your product, whether that’s running small experiments, doing user studies, etc.
As long as you are out there actually talking to customers or putting something in front of customers and getting feedback, as well as being able to prove that with each one of those your business is getting better.
Nicole: To expand on that, at Techstars we talk about a bunch of things that we look for in our application. We look for team, team, team, market traction and idea. Notice the traction part was second to last and that the idea part was last.
To walk you through the team, team, team part quickly, we are looking for teams that are passionate about what they do, that are well-formed (it doesn’t have to mean that they have been together for a long time, it means they can communicate well, they can execute together, they can work through difficult times together, etc.) and that they can execute. Those are the most important things that we look for at Techstars.
The second thing after that is markets. We have to be interested in the market that you are in, and then comes traction.
But really, at the heart of all of this – if I had to summarize one thing, and this would be true for probably any accelerator or investor you go after, would be belief.
Do we believe that you guys are capable of pulling off the thing you are trying to pull off in a way that is going to give us, as an accelerator or an investor, the returns that they are going to need to be successful? There are a lot of things that feed into that belief. One of them, naturally, is traction. One of them is active users, that is an element that feeds into that, but that is only one of many elements.
There isn’t any one thing that is going to make or break you, it’s a bunch of little things that tell a story about our ability to believe if you are able to execute on the thing that you are trying to do and be successful, and that we can make money from it, because that’s our jobs.
Greg: I remember Brad Feld telling us as MDs something really interesting the last time we got together with him. If you don’t know who Brad Feld is, he is a very prominent venture capitalist in Boulder, Colorado.
We asked him, “Brad, you’re an amazing investor. How do you choose which companies to invest in? How do you know when the founding team is the right founding team?” (As Nicole and Cody have said, this is such an important criteria for us).
Brad responded with a simple answer (the great thing about Brad is that he distills things into very simple answers for complex topics). He said, “Well, really what I do is I look at the founding team and I ask myself one thing, were they born to solve this problem? Were they put on this earth to solve this problem and are they so obsessed by it that they can’t take a shower, can’t get dressed, they can’t have a conversation without thinking about this problem because it obsesses them.”
As you think about your applications, and you think about your entrepreneurial journey, I would ask yourself that question. If you can say yes to that question, then you know you are ready for the journey.
The journey, as I know many of you have probably heard, is like a rollercoaster. It is incredibly joyful but it might be the most masochistic thing that anyone can put themselves through. You have to be obsessed.
I remember going to go watch an author do a book reading, and being a writer is a very creative, very joyful, very painful experience, similar to being an entrepreneur. Somebody in the audience asked this really famous author, “Why do you do what you do if it is so painful and so lonely?”
She responded, very simply, “I do it because I have no other choice. It is what I was born to do.” That’s something you really want to ask yourself, because it is a really interesting journey and can be really painful one, so you want to be ready for that.
The next AMA is March 16 – Register today. Don’t miss your chance to join a Techstars accelerator program – Applications close April 9. Apply today.
Applications are now open for the Techstars accelerator. Apply now to join the Techstars network with more than 10,000 mentors, investors and founders. Deadline to apply is April 9, 2017 for the next session which kicks off in July 2017 in 11 locations across the globe.
We’ll also hold global info sessions to connect with the best startups and founders in the world. Stay tuned for more details on these events and how you can meet the Techstars teams from different programs.
When you apply, you can choose from any of the following locations and verticals:
- New York City
- Kansas City NEW!
- Los Angeles NEW!
- Techstars Mobility (Detroit)
- Techstars Retail, in partnership with Target (Minneapolis)
- Techstars Atlanta, in partnership with Cox Enterprises
- Techstars Adelaide (Australia) NEW!
- Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars (Seattle) NEW!
Join us for a live, interactive Ask Me Anything session to get all your questions answered about applying to an accelerator program! We’ll go over tips for your application, how to best show your product and team, and anything else you’ve been wanting to know!
Answering your questions:
- Cody Simms, Executive Director, Techstars
- Jenny Fielding, Managing Director of Techstars IoT and Barclays NYC Accelerator
Techstars currently has applications open for 9 programs around the world. Join us in this AMA to learn more and get your application ready by Oct 15th.