Techstars Meet and Greet Paris

At Techstars, we are on a mission to help entrepreneurs succeed. Over the past 10 years we have helped over 1,200 companies grow and raise over $4 billion in funding, with a market cap of $10 billion. Now we’re on a search for the next wave of companies to join our worldwide network!

We currently have applications open for Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator programs around the world. Join our program staff for an evening of networking, Q&A, and a chance to show us what you’re currently working on. They will be there to connect with you, inspire you, answer your questions and tell you more about our programs.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT:

  • 12:00pm – Doors open, food and drinks served
  • 12.30pm – Techstars Presentation
  • 1.00pm – Question Time
  • 1.15pm – Open Networking


Event ends 2.00pm

ALREADY KNOW THAT TECHSTARS IF A GOOD FIT FOR YOU?
Apply for Office Hours, a 30-minute session on the day of, the day before or after the Meet and Greet Event, where you meet one-on-one with one of our attending Directors.








Techstars Boston: Help Us Get More Diverse Founders Applying

Challenging the bro-grammer stereotype

The first day of Techstars Boston, I was impressed by all the thoughtful, kind, and honest people I met. There was little in the group that resembled the stereotype of a mansplaining bro-grammer. Except for the fact that people said the word “awesome” a lot and nearly everyone was a straight, white man.

There was just a small handful of women and even fewer people of color. One female-led startup. Two founders of color.

But within that first day, both Clement Cazalot, the managing director, and Aaron O’Hearn the director of Techstars Boston, stood up in front of the entire class and told us that this lack of diversity was their fault. They called this their personal failure to recruit more women and people with diverse backgrounds.

They didn’t make excuses or get defensive. They acknowledged it and took responsibility. The program tracked hundreds and hundreds of companies from applications and referrals from the network: only 18 percent of teams had a female founder n and just 48 percent self-identified as non-white (although only a fraction of the applicants shared this information, and empirical data would suggest a very different ratio where non-white applicants are a minority).

Since that day a few weeks ago, by opening the conversation about the very visible diversity gap, Aaron and Clement have already taken the first step towards changing it. This conversation is just the start.

What can we do to change this?

In short, I can see at least three huge obstacles.

  1. Fighting the bad reputation of an entire industry

On that first day, Aaron and Clement also set the tone for three months of a startup accelerator focused on personal development and propelling these startup ideas forward. They laid out the core values of giving first, acting with integrity, and treating each other with respect. They didn’t skip over a single bullet of the Techstars’ Code of Conduct, putting serious weight behind their statements that they would not tolerate any harassment or violence.

It all sounds like common sense, but they are fighting against the reputation of the entire tech/startup ecosystem that is rightly and publicly criticized for having a gender-discrimination problem, an even worse racial disparity, and a track record of sexual harassment.

This bad reputation has a major impact on many potential founders, who might have an amazing idea for a new startup. How many women want to be in a group of dudes mansplaining tech? How many people of color want to feel like the token black friend? Or worse, discriminated against when the investors come around later?

Those fears are real.

Fighting this reputation only starts with words and conversations. Statements that set Techstars as a safe place for not just all kinds of business ideas, but all kind of people. Aaron, Clement, and all the others here who go out of their way to make sure that every person here is treated with respect.

Then those words must be backed up with action.

  1. If you’re actually biased towards actions

It’s not enough to say you care about diversity. You have to follow your words with real actions. This is the supposed mindset of every entrepreneur: see a problem, search out solutions, and take action.

In taking action, Techstars publishes data on diversity and established a foundation exclusively for giving grants to organizations with programs focused on improving diversity in entrepreneurship. Locally, the Techstars Boston is searching for more actionable steps.

“We’re being explicit and looking for solutions,” Clement says. “There is no ‘silver bullet’ and we have to have a long-term approach.”

Clement wants to improve diversity in the application pipeline and make the program known for attracting a diverse mix of potential founders. Last fall, he and Aaron put the word out to people they knew in the community, made the rounds to venture capitalists, and held office hours to recruiting potential founders. Those actions weren’t enough.

In a similar vein, the managing director of Techstars Seattle, Chris Devore, wrote a blog post last year after the program had only one female-led startup that accepted a slot in the program. Chris wrote he was frustrated that he failed to recruit diverse startups and asked for ideas from the Seattle community. Following Chris’ request for help, the diversity in the Seattle program has improved – with the press calling it one of Seattle’s most diverse classes yet.

Some Techstars programs, including in Boston, have had a more equal gender mix (or completely equal) among their startup founders. It takes planning and intentional effort, the long-term approach to get the word out before 2019 applications even open in the summer.

  1. Change starts with all of us

We need all of Boston engaging in this conversation and looking for solutions. More diversity in early stage startups is the fastest way to challenge the reputation that afflicts this industry. To make steps toward better, safer, more respectful workplaces for everyone.

This takes getting the new Techstars founders, the alumni, the mentors, and community partners all involved. For all of us in the Boston community too — in tech, education, finance, marketing, whatever — we can help change this.

Demo Day is at the end of April. Tell your friends, family, or students to come, meet the Techstar team, and the founders. Applications open for the 2019 program in the summer and stay open until the fall.

Help us recruit, encourage, and support all those founders who don’t look like the bro-grammer stereotype.








Preview of Boston Demo Day 2018

Focusing on companies leveraging what Boston is world class at

This is an exciting time for Techstars in Boston. Most of the companies are coming from our local ecosystem in New England, and this is a pleasure to see such innovation being fostered here!

On April 26th, we will host an exclusive event showcasing the companies. Stay tuned for updates. If you want to request an invite, we are curating the list of people invited. If you want to join, let’s talk! Sign up here to be kept in the loop about dates, location and timings.

We are now one month into the program, the companies are out of a few weeks of intense meetings with key mentors from their respective industries, enabling them to put their recent achievements in perspective.

In September I wrote about Boston’s Ecosystem Investment Trends, and the focus for this Techstars class. Our focus was going to be on supporting mostly companies focussed on SaaS transition or Data/AI – and the Boston did not fail to deliver. We have a remarkable class of startups about to embark on their vision, or continue pioneering in their industry. Here’s how they fit in with what we had planned.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of the companies, we have one other company that will be revealed later.

The 12th class for the city, 147 companies have been through Techstars Boston, and this is the 122nd class overall for Techstars as a global accelerator. Boston is proud to have helped bring PillPack, Localytics, Placester and Synack to market – just to name a few.

We are also proud to have an incredible mentor network, stretching from alumni, to some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Boston. Its with the help of this Techstars community that makes the experience what it is today. So thank you all. Thank You mentors for your continuous empowerment of entrepreneurs. Thank You to the community for your support of our founders and their startup ideas. And Thank You to all the startups which applied and didn’t get in – we’re all on the same path to greatness, and we have no doubt you will do Boston proud either way.

So without further ado, here are the companies in more detail, in alphabetical order.

Brio

Brio Systems, a direct to consumer healthcare company. Brio Systems puts preventative health within reach of consumers. Using a monthly health check service in the form of a painless blood test aimed to give a person access to their health status and trends on where they are headed. Anonymized datasets provide corporations with insight on their population health and effective ways to optimize their costs of healthcare expenditure.

Chameleon

Banks in the U.S. spend $7.5B per year managing their existing commercial loans, which they could be spending on generating new loans. Managing this backlog of data is a time-consuming, manual process. Chameleon enables commercial lenders to generate more loans by unlocking the $7.5B tied up on data entry. Lenders can spend more time underwriting and sourcing new deals.

Fazta

In today’s digital era, contractors have no good way to deliver an experience that meets consumers expectations. With Fazta, Contractors get a mobile app that instantly digitizes their business with a website, online billing, and a business phone number.  We put an end to running a business on the back of an envelope, and give contractors an online operation that builds loyal customer relationships.

Meenta

Meenta eliminates researchers purchasing problems when mapping their experimental design to instruments. Consequently, when it’s easier to buy, scientists buy more often, instruments run more often and the cost to own and operate instruments decreases. We eliminate 80% of the project consultation costs normally associated with educating new users.

Noria

We solve every pain point users experience with window air conditioners and create value through design, premium fit and finish and smart home integration. Noria’s launch product is a 5,000 BTU connected window air conditioner that’s just 7” tall and twice as quiet as existing units. It installs securely and safely in minutes and is easy to move and store. It works with Alexa, Nest, and Google Home or via iOS or Android app.

Openly

Openly, an insurance carrier, will offer superior insurance products that innovate on the coverage terms and the experience of quoting and buying insurance–for example, enabling a sellable quote in under 60 seconds. We will leverage advanced statistical models at every decision point to reduce expenses and offer the best rates to win high value consumers.

Securicy

Cyber security is a complex and evolving discipline. Cyber attacks and data breaches are threatening the bottom line. Securicy is a complete solution that’s tailored to small to medium-sized organizations that  enables the user to efficiently build, implement, maintain and enforce a compliant cyber security program in their organization.

Sophia

Sophia, a marketplace for therapy. Patients fill out a simple form on their needs, then Sophia provides the top predicted matches from their therapist network, making it easy to set up the first appointment, and follow up to ensure a good fit. Over time, the plan is to expand into additional services (payment, scheduling, outcome tracking) to improve therapeutic outcomes.

SparkCharge

SparkCharge makes Portable Modular Ultra Fast Charging Stations for electric vehicles that go in your trunk. For the first time EV owners will be able to charge their car anytime and anywhere they want. Now, EV owners can seamlessly connect and extend range by swapping out addition 10 mile range battery packs as they see fit. Our rapid chargers can charge electric vehicles at 1 mile every 60 seconds, which makes charging fast and convenient.

There you have it. The companies ready to #domorefaster with the support of the Techstars ecosystem. Stay tuned for updates, and we hope to see you at Demo Day. Sign up here to be kept in the loop about dates, location and timings.

And as always, if you have a good idea. We’d love to know about it. Come hang out with us at one of our action-oriented programs such as Startup Weekend by staying up to date here, or see if there’s an accelerator Program that suits you.

Stay Motivated,

Clement, Aaron, Nick & Saba








Hiring, the Single Most Important Skill as a Founder

Today’s post comes from Moritz Plassnig, founder and CEO of Codeship (Techstars Class 22).

The longer I’m involved in Codeship (the company I co-founded), the more other founders I mentor, the more I’m convinced that people and a great team is the lifeblood of a fast growing startup. I would even go so far as to say that people are the foundation of every organization, big or small, high-tech startup or huge corporate juggernaut. But the startup world is unique in its constraints and also in its opportunities and thus, the emphasis on building a great team is more important at a startup than in any other organization.

There’s no such thing as overnight success, as much as countless books and movies try to portray well-known entrepreneurs as geniuses. Success is the product of a variety of factors, hard work as much as great and unique skills, the perfect timing and elements outside your control, such as luck. The more you as a founder, CEO or leader can remove the latter from the equation, the better off you and your team will be.

Building a great culture, hiring skilled individuals and forming an amazing team out of it allows you to make your own luck. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s within your control.

Investors Invest in People, Not Ideas

As much as you like your idea and believe that the market conditions are perfect, the truth is that most companies will change and adapt their product down the road. The founding vision of Slack was to build a gameInstagram started out as a Foursquare-like check-in app called ‘Burbn’ and you all know the story of Twitter being a side product of a podcast platform. What all those companies had in common was a strong team that was able to take new ideas and build new products until they were the success they are today. The people working at those companies were able to adapt and change and build a great product. Maybe your company won’t pivot completely, but you will learn, adapt and improve, as you gather feedback from your customers. And the more feedback you incorporate, the better you get.

The ability to do that, to listen to the small feedback between the lines, knowing when to stay stubborn and when to adapt is one of the most important and hardest to learn skills for a founder.

Great investors, angels and VCs, know that and despite the importance of a potential big market, an important enough to be solved problem, the team is the key reason why they will eventually invest.

Early On, Every Hire is Crucial

Summarizing a successful startup in one sentence is simple: Great people build great products, get great customers and eventually will build a great company. As simple as it sounds, doing it right is incredibly difficult. You will face a lot of challenges in the early days of your company and the more successful you are, the bigger your team gets, the harder it gets to keep your team members aligned and your company on track. The one thing that you should keep in mind is that at the end of the day, everything, good or bad is caused by the people in your team. Empowering your team and getting out of the way is key but it’s only possible if you hire the right people.

Small companies don’t have the luxury of making a lot of mistakes. You are always resource constrained, both money and people, and despite not having enough you have to build a great product, nail the distribution and find a viable business model. This can all work out great if you did your job well and found great co-workers, but it can also go sideways instantly if you did a poor job. Nothing is more dangerous for an early-stage startup than one bad hire, one person who isn’t a culture fit or who is simply not good enough at their job. Even if you together resolve the situation fast, you will get distracted, most probably won’t build a great product during that time and lose a lot of time.

Bad hiring is one of the most risky and costly mistakes you can make in a startup.

Great People Attract Great People

Nothing is more attractive for talented job seeker than a team full of really skilled co-workers. Despite all the potential problems of a bad hire, the huge upside if you do it right is tremendous. With every great person that you can convince to join your team, your team gets better and it will also get easier to attract the next person. Hiring is a self-fulfilling prophecy and therefore gets simpler over time. The hard part obviously is to get everything started. How to hire the first employee if you don’t have an amazing team that everybody is talking about?

Solving this chicken-egg problem is crucial for getting your company off the ground. The good news is that you already have a team, even before your first hire. You and your co-founder(s) are already a team (which is one of a countless long list of reasons why you shouldn’t found a company alone). You found your first follower, you did the hard first step already. Maybe, you even managed to get a small investment or you convinced somebody to be your advisor. You will have a team long before you have hired for first employee, although it might not feel like that.

Culture is More Than the Sum of Every Team Member

Even if you hire only smart individuals, despite their respective skill sets you won’t automatically create a high-performing team. Great teams are generally a group of amazing individuals mixed together in the right way. The glue between the outstanding senior engineer and the young up and coming designer, the magic that makes sales work well with product is having the right culture.

Culture is not about free food, nice X-mas parties or other perks. It’s about shared values and beliefs, the common ground of every discussion and the bigger reason why you are all working on the same idea.

Great culture makes you win, great culture will help tremendously to survive tough times. Having a great culture will simply make you feel that it’s easy to build a successful company.

The importance of culture heavily impacts your hiring. Every single person you bring on in the early days changes your culture, in a good or bad way. Figuring out if somebody is a culture fit, if somebody is the right person for your team instead of finding the best person is crucial. Although culture is defined by your team, by every single individual, you still have to work hard on it and you won’t get it automatically by hiring right.

Your job as a leader is to facilitate discussions, offer a vision and set the guard rails. Nothing defines culture more than actions and your team can’t take any actions if you don’t provide the guidance they need.

Cultural fit is really important for every new hire but it’s only working if your culture is great. That won’t be the case all the time. You will face times where your culture starts getting sideways, where you can’t be as proud of your company as you wish you could be. Especially in those moments it’s important that you critically challenge the status quo. What’s great, what’s broken? If your culture is broken and you’re blindly hiring with an emphasis of culture fit, your culture will actually get worse. You can’t use your culture as a safeguard if it’s broken.

As much as great people, a great culture attract more great people and can result in a better culture, as much as it can go into the opposite direction. Be aware of your own bias.

Hiring is a Skill and It Should Be Your Most Important One

Hiring is not magic, it’s not luck, it’s a skill. Some people are better with it from their first job on, others not. Maybe you are but if not, you can learn it and even if you do great right now you should still work hard every day to improve. The faster you figure out if somebody fits into your team, the faster you can evaluate the skills of an applicant, the better it’s for you and your company. Even more important in today’s hiring market, the better you are in convincing people to join your team, in selling your vision, the better people will eventually work for you. Again, it gets easier over time to more great people are working for you.

It’s important to understand that it’s not just about you interviewing a candidate. You have to design a hiring process that involves your team, that gives the candidate a lot of opportunity to evaluate you as well. Every growing company faced the same challenge and you can learn a lot from the best practises of the industry, from companies that did a great job with hiring and also from companies who failed. Luckily, now more than ever, startups are willing to share their journey starting with small insights and some tactical advice as far as being completely transparent like Buffer. Take the opportunity and learn from those companies and their failures and successes.

Don’t forget that you are always hiring. It doesn’t matter if you are doing a job interview in your office or if you are at a friends party. You are always leaving an impression, if you want or not. Maybe you aren’t looking for anybody right now but you surely will in the future. Or at your next job or company.

Making sure that you always have a big pool of great people to work with will set you up for success — and since it’s all about the people, it will make the difference between being successful or not. Always be hiring.

A shorter version of this post was originally published in Entrepreneur.com.








Announcing Clement Cazalot as Managing Director for the Techstars Boston Accelerator

Since 2009, the Techstars Boston Accelerator has helped launch and fund more companies than any other Techstars program in the world: 134 startups, $715 million in total funding, 19 successful exits and 95 startups are continuing to grow with more than a thousand employees overall, creating one of the most vibrant and dense entrepreneurial networks.

This community of alumni makes Boston a very special place. We want Techstars to continue to leverage this vibrant group to help new entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and do more faster.

As part of this ever growing network, I will be joining as the next managing director of the Techstars Boston Accelerator. In 2012, I was the CEO and cofounder of docTrackr, a company that went through the Techstars program in Boston and was among the first exits of the program. Semyon and Eveline will lead a new mission-driven fund to back immigrant entrepreneurs in Boston. Ty Danco will remain with the program as Mentor in Residence, and will also work with other Boston startup programs.

Boston Is One of the Best Cities to Launch a Startup

The city has changed, for the better, since the Techstars Boston Accelerator first started in 2009.

It is easier than ever to raise capital and recruit top talent from other successful startups and alumni from the best universities in the world. Even Mark Zuckerberg said, “if I were starting now, I would have stayed in Boston.”

There are over 50 entrepreneurial programs all around the city, from accelerators and specialized incubators, to incredibly dynamic co-working spaces and university programs.

Boston also has a very active angel network complemented by a VC industry that is reinventing itself to focus more on the earlier stages of the tech and biotech innovations, which enables quick access to funds at all stages of development.

Working With the Best Talents, From Everywhere

In this ecosystem, the Techstars Boston Accelerator will be focused more than ever on great founders and early stage companies from the New England Area and beyond.

We have an opportunity to attract new talents in the city and present reasons for all the bright minds coming to study in Boston to stay. I arrived in Boston as a foreigner to join Techstars and fell in love with the city. I understand the challenges of bringing new, fresh talent into the city, and the even bigger lift of keeping them here! Boston is a welcoming city with immigrants and entrepreneurs from all around the world working together.

What’s Next?

The next class of the Techstars Boston Accelerator will begin in January 2018. We decided to take our time until the next program to get Techstars even more ingrained into the Boston ecosystem and leverage the alumni network even more.

Over the next seven months, we will focus entirely on the local entrepreneurial community.

The goal will be to build more ties with all the other programs to collaborate (continuing on current efforts to share the best mentors to improve the overall quality of the ecosystem), bring even more entrepreneurship events to Boston (by relaunching Startup Weekend in the area, a fantastic event that is part of the Techstars family) and continue to help all entrepreneurs succeed by focusing on the #givefirst mentality of Techstars!

Boston is a great city, where big ideas come to grow with the support of the smartest people in the world. Join us to bring yours to the next step of the journey! Reach out if Techstars can help you in Boston!








Demo Day: Techstar Boston (Boston)








Announcing the Boston Class of 2017

I’m excited to announce the thirteen awesome companies participating in the 2017 Techstars accelerator in Boston. Our program begins today and culminates in a May 3rd Demo Day at 9am at the House of Blues.

We picked these companies out of applicants from around the world primarily for having the most passionate, talented, and driven founding teams. Ten of the companies in this year’s program are from the Boston area, one is from Italy, one from Canada, and one from New York City.

This is our eleventh program in Boston, and also my fourth and final one as Managing Director. I’m thrilled with the continuing growth and impact of our alumni companies, humbled by our supportive and growing mentor community, extremely excited about the new class, and especially proud of the fact that our continued efforts to increase diversity across the Techstars network are beginning to bear fruit, with six out of these 13 companies being led by female CEOs.

Below are the 13 Techstars Boston 2017 companies, in alphabetical order:

Alice’s Table: Alice’s Table provides women a scalable platform to build flexible businesses through flower arranging events.

BrainSpec: BrainSpec is a health-tech company that enables the accurate, efficient and non-invasive diagnosis of brain disorders.

Brizi: Remote-control Augmented Reality Camera Systems. Brizi helps to automate and monetize fan content in sports stadiums.

CareAcademy: CareAcademy educates professional caregivers online to provide excellent care.

Evolve: Advice in love, powered by machine learning. Evolve helps you learn from your dating habits so you can make smarter decisions.

Lorem: Your personal web developer, ready on-demand in WordPress and Squarespace.

Nix: Nix is developing a single use hydration sensor that informs athletes’ hydration strategy: when to drink, what to drink, and how much to drink.

OffGridBox: OffGridBox is an innovative, all-in-one, renewable energy and clean water system that enables independent living in any environment.

RateGravity: RateGravity is redefining how consumers finance their home with technology that eliminates the need for the mortgage sales person and pairs consumers with the optimal local lender.

SeaMachines: Autonomous Self-Driving Technology for Commercial & Recreational Boats.

Solstice: Solstice radically expands access to clean energy by providing community-shared solar power to the 80 percent of Americans that cannot install a system on their rooftop.

Tive: Tive provides companies with enhanced supply chain visibility and analysis of in-transit goods, powered by wireless sensors and cloud software.

Voatz: Voatz is a mobile election voting platform, secured via smart biometrics, real time ID verification and the blockchain for irrefutability.

 








Info Session: Q1 2017 Programs (Seattle)

Who: Startups interested in applying for the Austin, Barclays Cape Town, Barclays London, Barclays Tel Aviv, Berlin, Boston, Boulder, Cloud – San Antonio, Healthcare in Partnership with Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles), New York City or Seattle Accelerator.

What: Info session

When: September 29

Where: Startup Hall – 1100 Northeast Campus Parkway #200, Seattle, WA 98105

Details: Click here to register for the event.








Contratar, la habilidad más importante como fundador

Este artículo fue traducido por Lucía Tróchez – @lulutro

El post del día de hoy, lo escribe Moritz Plassnig, fundador y CEO de Codeship (Boston ’13).

Entre más estoy involucrado en Codeship (la compañía que co-fundé), más doy mentoría a otros fundadores, y más me convenzo de que las personas y un gran equipo son el alma de una startup en crecimiento acelerado. Incluso me atrevería a ir más allá y decir que las personas son el fundamento de todas las organizaciones, grandes o pequeñas, startups de alta tecnología o grandes corporativos. Pero el mundo de las startups es único en sus restricciones y también en sus oportunidades y por esto, el énfasis en construir un gran equipo es más importante que en cualquier otra organización.

No hay tal cosa como el éxito de la noche a la mañana, así en innumerables libros o películas traten de mostrar a los emprendedores conocidos como genios. El éxito es el producto de una variedad de factores, trabajo árduo así como habilidades únicas y maravillosas, el momento adecuado y elementos que se salen de tu control, como la suerte. Entre más puedas remover ese último aspecto de la ecuación como fundador, CEO o líder, mejor estarán tu y tu equipo.

Construir una gran cultura, contratando individuos habilidosos y formar un equipo de ello te permite hacer tu propia suerte. Es trabajo difícil pero está en tu control.

Los inversionistas invierten en gente, no en ideas

Por más que te guste tu idea y creas que las condiciones del mercado son perfectas, la verdad es que la mayoría de las compañías cambian y adaptan sus productos a través del camino. La visión inicial de Slack era construir un juego, Instagram empezó como una aplicación de check-in tipo Foursquare llamada ‘Burbn’ y todos sabemos la historia de Twitter que se creó como un producto paralelo a una plataforma de podcasts. Lo que todas esas compañías tenían en común era un equipo fuerte que fue capaz de tomar nuevas ideas y construir nuevos productos hasta que consiguieron el éxito que tienen hoy. La gente que está trabajando en esas compañías logró adaptarse y cambiar y construir un gran producto. Tal vez tu compañía no va a pivotear completamente, pero aprenderás, te adaptarás y mejorarás, a medida que obtengas retroalimentación de tus clientes. Y entre más retroalimentación incorpores, más vas a mejorar.

La habilidad de hacer eso, de escuchar los pequeños comentarios entre líneas, sabiendo cuándo ser terco y cuando adaptarte es una de las habilidades más importantes y más difíciles para un fundador.

Los grandes inversionistas, ángeles y VCs, saben que, a pesar de la importancia de un mercado potencial de tamaño considerable, y un problema lo suficientemente importante para ser resuelto; el equipo es la razón clave por la que ellos invierten eventualmente.

En etapas tempranas, cada contratación es crucial

Resumiendo una startup exitosa es sencillo: gente maravillosa construye productos maravillosos, obtiene clientes maravillosos y eventualmente construirá una empresa maravillosa. Tan simple como suena, hacerlo es increíblemente difícil. Te encontrarás con muchos retos en los primeros días de tu compañía y entre más exitoso seas, más crecerá tu equipo, y se vuelve más difícil mantener a los miembros de tu equipo alineados y a tu compañía en curso. Lo único que deberías tener en cuenta es que al final del día, todo, bueno o malo es causado por las personas de tu equipo. Empoderarlos y salir de su camino es clave, pero sólo es posible si contratas a las personas correctas.

Las compañías pequeñas no pueden darse el lujo de cometer muchos errores. Siempre tienes restricciones de recursos, tanto en talento como en dinero, y a pesar de no tener suficiente debes construir un gran producto, acertar en la distribución y encontrar un modelo de negocios viable. Esto todo puede funcionar si hiciste tu trabajo bien y encontraste excelentes co-fundadores, pero también puede ser malo si no hiciste ese buen trabajo en un comienzo. Nada es más peligroso para un startup en etapa temprana que una mala contratación, una persona que no se adapte a la cultura de la compañía o una que simplemente no es lo suficientemente buena en su trabajo.  Incluso si logran resolver la situación rápido, te distrerás y lo más probable es no construyas un buen producto y pierdas tiempo.

Contratar mal es uno de los errores que más cuestan y de más riesgo en un startup.

Las grandes personas atraen grandes personas

Nada es más atractivo para una persona talentosa en búsqueda de trabajo que un equipo lleno de trabajadores con habilidades. A pesar de todos los problemas potenciales de una mala contratación, los beneficios de hacerlo bien son muchos. Con cada gran persona que puedes convencer de unirse a tu equipo, tu equipo mejora y también se volverá más sencillo atraer a la siguiente persona. Contratar es una profecía inevitable y por lo tanto se vuelve más simple a medida que pasa el tiempo. La parte difícil obviamente es empezar todo. ¿Cómo contratar tu primer empleado si no tienes un buen equipo del que todos están hablando?

Resolver este problema del huevo y la gallina es crucial para que tu compañía arranque del piso. La buena noticia es que ya tienes un equipo, inclusive antes de tu primera contratación. Tu y tu(s) co-fundador(es)  ya son un equipo (y esta es una de muchas razones por las que no deberías empezar una compañía solo). Ya encontraste tu primer seguidor, ya tomaste el primer paso difícil. Tal vez, lograste también conseguir una primera inversión o convenciste a alguien de ser tu consejero. Tendrás un equipo mucho antes de que contrates tu primer empleado, aunque puede que no se sienta así.

La cultura es más que la suma de cada miembro del equipo

Incluso si sólo contratas individuos inteligentes, a pesar de sus habilidades respectivas no crearás un equipo de alto rendimiento automáticamente. Los grandes equipos son generalmente un grupo de individuos maravillosos que se me mezclan de la manera adecuada. El pegamento entre el ingeniero experimentado y sobresaliente, y el diseñador joven y aprendiz, esa magia que hace que las ventas funcionen bien con el producto es tener la cultura correcta.

La cultura no es comida gratis, buenas fiestas de navidad u otros beneficios. Es acerca de compartir beneficios y creencias, ese terreno común de cada discusión y la razón principal por la que todos están trabajando sobre esa misma idea.

Una buena cultura te hace ganar, una buena cultura te ayudará inmensamente para sobrevivir a los momentos difíciles. Tene una buena cultura te hará sentir que es simplemente más fácil construir una compañía excelente.

La importancia de la cultura impacta en gran parte la manera en cómo contratas. Cada persona que traes en la etapa temprana cambia tu cultura, en una buena o mala manera. Tener en cuenta si alguien encaja en tu cultura, si esa es la persona indicada para tu equipo en vez de encontrar la mejor persona es crucial. Aunque la cultura es definida por nuestro equipo, por cada uno de los individuos, todavía tienes que poner tu mejor esfuerzo y no es algo que venga automáticamente únicamente por contratar correctamente.

Tu trabajo como líder es facilitar discusiones, ofrecer una visión y definir el camino. Nada defina la cultura más que las acciones y tu equipo no puede tomar ninguna acción si tu no provees la guía que ellos necesitan.

El encaje de cultura es realmente importante para cada uno de los nuevos integrantes pero sólo funciona si la cultura que tienes es buena. Ese no siempre será el caso. Te enfrentarás a momentos en los que la cultura se empiece a mover hacia un lado, en donde sientas que no puedes estar tan orgulloso de tu compañía cómo te gustaría estarlo. Especialmente en esos momentos es importante que tu retes críticamente el status quo. ¿Qué funciona? ¿Qué esta roto? Si tu cultura está dañada y estás contratando ciegamente con un énfasis en el encaje cultural, la cultura empeorará. No puedes usar tu cultura como un seguro si está dañado.

Tanto como gente maravillosa, una gran cultura atraerá más gente maravillosa y puede resultar en una mejor cultura organizacional, así mismo puede ir en la dirección contraria. Ten en cuenta tu propio prejuicio.

Contratar es una habilidad y debería ser la más importante

Contratar no es mágico, no es cuestión de suerte, es una habilidad. Algunas personas son mejores al respecto desde su primer trabajo, otros no. Talvez tu lo eres, pero si no, lo puedes aprender e inclusive si haces algo grandioso ahora, todavía debes trabajar árduamente todos los días para mejorar. Entre más rápido resuelvas si alguien encaja en tu equipo, más rápido puedes evaluar las habilidades de ese aplicante, y es mejor para ti y tu compañía. Inclusive algo más importante en el mercado de contratación del día de hoy, es que entre mejor seas convenciendo a las personas de que se unan a tu equipo, en vender tu visión, gente mejor trabajará para ti eventualmente. Otra vez, se vuelve más fácil a medida que pasa el tiempo que mejores personas trabajen para tí.

Es importante que entiendas que no se trata de únicamente entrevistar a un candidato. Tienes que diseñar un proceso de contratación que involucre a tu equipo, que le de al candidato un espacio de oportunidad para que también te evalúe a tí. Todas las compañías en crecimiento han pasado por esos mismos retos y puedes aprender de los mejores casos en la industria, de compañías que hicieron un excelente trabajo contratando, así como de compañías que fracasaron. Con suerte, ahora más que nunca, las startups están dispuestas a compartir su experiencia, empezando con pequeños tips y luego consejos prácticos, tan lejos como ser completamente transparentes como Buffer. Toma la oportunidad de aprender de esas compañías y sus éxitos y fracasos.

No te olvides de que siempre estás contratando. No importa si estás haciendo una entrevista de trabajo en la oficina o si estás en una fiesta de un amigo. Siempre estás dejando una impresión, así lo quieras o no. Talvez no estás buscando a nadie en específico en ese momento pero seguramente lo harás en el futuro. O en el próximo trabajo o compañía.

Asegurarte de que siempre tienes opciones de candidatos con los que trabajarías, te llevará al éxito — y como se trata de personas, hará una gran diferencia entre ser exitoso o no. Siempre contrata en tu mente.

Una versión más corta de esta entrada, fue publicada originalmente en Entrepreneur.com.      








Demo Day Round Up: May 2016

We are kicking off the summer here at Techstars with the addition of 54 new companies! This past May, Techstars had five Demo Days across the U.S., including Seattle, Boulder, Austin, Boston and the Sprint Accelerator in Kansas City. Here’s a quick recap of the highlights:

Seattle Class of 2016

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Techstars Seattle’s seventh Demo Night, held at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), showcased nine companies with diverse product offerings ranging from satellites, drones, bots and interactive game-streaming, to SaaS and mobile apps. Julep Founder and CEO, Jane Park, opened the evening with an inspiring keynote, while Techstars’ Managing Director, Chris DeVore, and Executive Director, Cody Simms, welcomed the crowd. It was an exciting night to celebrate the 2016 class and the broader Seattle startup community!

Congratulations to the Seattle Class of 2016!

Austin Class of 2016

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Techstars Austin’s fourth Demo Day kicked off in the historic downtown Paramount Theatre with presentations from 10 eclectic companies, including everything from salad-making robots and music-making gloves, to SaaS products and unique marketplaces. Managing Director, Amos Schwartzfarb, hosted the show, and Techstars’ co-founder and Managing Partner, David Brown, and Ventures Partner, Jason Seats, welcomed the community with opening remarks. It was a great celebration for the 2016 class, mentors, alumni as well as for the broader local startup community in Austin.

Congratulations to the Austin Class of 2016!

Boulder Class of 2016

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Hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors and aspiring founders descended on Boulder the week of May 16 for Boulder Startup Week and to celebrate 10 years of Techstars Boulder. Techstars Boulder’s Demo Day on May 18 marks the 10th year of the Boulder program, the original Techstars program that has exploded  into a global ecosystem with more than 20 accelerator programs in 17 cities on 4 continents.

Techstars Boulder Demo Day was hosted at the Boulder Theater, a rite of passage for the 110 companies that have graduated from the accelerator in Boulder since 2007. Attendees were welcomed by Managing Director Natty Zola who said:

“Ten years ago, the founders of Techstars realized that the Boulder community was the perfect environment to model how mentorship, education and camaraderie can transform ideas into companies that can change the world. That remains true today. The energy and ‘give first’ mantra of the Boulder community sparked something special that transformed Techstars into a global ecosystem that to date has launched more than 800 companies. We’re proud to be the first.”

This year’s Boulder class encompassed a portfolio of eleven companies that spanned intelligent hardware, genealogy, healthcare and language learning, among others. The event also included an exciting announcement that Foundry Group, Colorado Impact Fund, and Greenmont Capital are now certified B corporations.

Demo Day also included TeamTap, a social app that event attendees played with to raise over $1,500 for the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO) and the Boulder Community Foundation.

Congratulations to the Boulder Class of 2016!

Boston Class of 2016

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Techstars Boston 2016 Demo Day event gathered over a thousand investors, mentors and other members of the startup community at the Back Bay Events Center in downtown Boston.  Fourteen companies who are tackling real problems took to the stage to celebrate Techstars Boston 10th class, with very special guest Brad Feld reminding the audience of the early days.

Alumni founders Raj Aggarwal from Localytics and Matt Barba from Placester introduced two of the companies in the class, indicating just how strong the Techstars network has become. The evening included the first edition of the Mentor Awards and was closed with the meet-the-teams-on-stage invitation to investors.      

Congratulations to the Boston Class of 2016!

Sprint Class of 2016

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The Sprint Accelerator’s third demo day took place May 24 at the beautiful Kauffman Center for Performing Arts in Kansas City. This class was the first to go through the Sprint Accelerator after the expansion to include more than just mobile health companies, which brought more diversity to the program. The event opened with remarks from Marcelo Claure, the CEO of Sprint, Kevin McGinnis, the VP of Pinsight Media+ (Sprint) and David Brown, followed by ten powerful pitches by ten amazing CEOs.

John Fein, Managing Director, closed the show with all the founders on stage. Hundreds from the community attended and showed their support for Techstars in KC. And post Demo Day, four of the 10 companies will be based out of KC.

Congratulations to the Sprint Accelerator Class of 2016!