Demo Day Round Up: Fall 2015

The show never stops at Techstars! Last month was busy for Techstars Accelerator Programs with FIVE Demo Days across the globe in October. From Disney and Seattle on the west coast, to Chicago and Barclays NYC on the east coast, and across the pond to London, Techstars celebrated the addition of 52 new companies! Here’s a quick review of what went down:

Disney Class of 2015

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It was the second year for the Disney Accelerator led by Managing Director, Cody Simms, and as expected, the class produced some jaw-dropping products. Open Bionics stole the show with their 3-D printed robotic arms for amputees, designed for children in hero versions including Iron Man, Star Wars and Frozen, for which Disney granted royalty-free licensing and will match 1-for-1 (buy one and a second one is given to a child in need). All founders’ pitches were well received as the audience learned about solutions for bioinformatics, video content, AMAs on Twitter, A.I. and more.

Congratulations to the Disney class of 2015!


Chicago Class of 2015

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The show must go on! Confronted with the unforeseen scheduling conflict of the Cubs in the World Series playoffs, the Chicago program powered through for a successful demo day despite the distraction. The companies, led during program by MDs Troy Henikoff and Brian Luerssen, delivered their polished pitches to a room full of investors, supporters, and mentors in the beautiful House of Blues. This year marks the sixth Chicago class, who come from diverse backgrounds and span a number of industries from advertising and fin tech to tech-enabled pet care.

Congratulations to the Chicago class of 2015!


Barclays NYC Class of 2015


Barclays NYC Demo Day took place at the recently unveiled Rise FinTech laboratory. Founders took the stage in front of an enthusiastic crowd of close to 500 attendees. The mood was energetic as companies pitched their ideas around blockchain, cybersecurity, microlending and more. Led by MD Jenny Fielding, the class of 2015 saw a quick rush of investments. Within just a few days, Barclays announced it signed contracts with eight of the companies who participated in the bank’s first-ever New York City fintech accelerator.

Congratulations to the Barclays NYC class of 2015!


Seattle Class of 2015

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Techstars Seattle’s Demo Night, held at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) showcased eleven companies built around the region’s core centers of excellence, from cloud infrastructure and e-commerce to gaming and Enterprise SaaS. Techstars MD, Chris DeVore, was joined by Techstars Managing Partner, David Brown, and the former President & Co-Founder of Concur, Rajeev Singh, to open the night and introduce the companies to the world. It was an exciting night to celebrate the Seattle startup community!

Congratulations to the Seattle class of 2015!


London Class of 2015

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Techstars London Demo Night, held at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, debuted eleven companies from all over the world. The group is a diverse mix of entrepreneurs from five countries, including Estonia, the Czech Republic, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Managing Director, Max Kelly, kicked off the fourth London Demo Day along with Managing Partners, David Brown and Mark Solon. The companies delivered excellent pitches for their technology solutions for customer retention, collaboration, cancer survivors, personal security, 3D printing and much more.

Congratulations to the London class of 2015!

Does your startup have what it takes? Apply to Techstars today! 



On Friday, 13 Nov, Startup Weekend friends old and new came together in London at Innovation Warehouse for networking, learnings and drinks.

Many thanks to Innovation Warehouse for providing the space, and to Big Hug Brewing and Vita Coco for spoiling us with drinks for the evening.

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David Haber, Lead Software Engineer at Soma Analytics and Co-founder of Import Classes, shared his top web development tools for non-developers, giving the attendees of our upcoming event a toolkit to ‘hack’ their way to a Startup Weekend win.  David has kindly shared a list of the tools he discussed here.



Next up, we welcomed our panel of previous SW winners to discuss their experiences and top tips for SW success.  The panel featured JinA Bae from ChopChop, Ray Ziai from Mode for Me, and Amalia Agathou, seasoned Startup Weekend mentor and organizer.  Everyone agreed – Startup Weekend played a crucial role in building the network they needed to get their startups off the ground.  Some of our favourite quotes from the panel included:

  • “Be translucent about your skills and be specific to what you can bring to the table and what you are looking for. Become friends and bond with your team beyond the Startup Weekend.”
  • “Make the most of the mentors!”
  • “Be flexible and make sure you validate your idea. You might find out something you didn’t know as you go.”
  • Bootstrap as long as you can – the more progress you’ve made, the more negotiating power you have”


Thanks to everyone for making this a great evening!

Don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming event, Startup Weekend Food, 4-6 Dec, where you might meet your next co-founders and can put all of this great advice into practice! 

For any questions, email us at:




Introducing the 11 Companies for the London Fall 2015 Class

Techstars welcomes its fourth cohort in London and I am proud to announce the 11 companies that will be joining us for the Fall 2015 Class. It is going to be a diverse group of entrepreneurs from five countries, including Estonia, the Czech Republic, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

From the sector perspective, companies range from collaboration, music and hiring, to personal security and 3D printing. A full list of companies participating in Techstars London Fall 2015 are listed below:

Ambie is a legal, personalised, music streaming service for businesses.
      Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 9.25.37 PM Deekit is a virtual whiteboard to help remote teams work seamlessly.
Hackajob is an online marketplace that matches technical candidates directly with employers and then the candidates apply by completing job-specific challenges.
Headliner is a marketplace connecting event planners with the world’s live entertainment to easily book acts for weddings, celebrations or corporate events.
NomNom lets you aggregate, organize and categorize all customer feedback in one place.
PingWHEN is a ‘smart’ personal safety mobile app.
PrintToPeer automates fleets of 3D printers in commercial or university production labs.
Sorry as a Service is a customer retention solution that enables businesses to send apologies, measure, track and optimize their retention activities and reduce churn and negative sentiment.
 unnamed Spero builds mobile communities around chronic illnesses. Their first product, Spero for Cancer, connects fighters, survivors and supporters of cancer.

TeskaLabs provides enterprise-grade security solutions for industrial and consumer mobile applications. is a new computing layer between the OS and the apps that reinvents what search means.

Top Learnings from Startup Weekend London

This post is written by 

Startup Weekend London was one of the most inspiring activities I’ve engaged in a while. Not only did I get to meet talented individuals but also work with them.

My Team



There was a Spanish HR professional who delegated her two kids to her husband and was the first to remember all of our names. There was a young Englishman who started his own business delivering snacks and nutritious goodies to schools and small organizations. Another talented individual who started his own business when he was 16 and rejected top corporate offers to work for a startup, eventually working his way to head of digital marketing. Then, there was the developer whose work ethic stood second to none and who created the most amazing codes within a couple of days. And finally a biochemist, turned philosopher, turned television producer, turned visual poet, and almost a Steve Jobs lookalike with his own Wikipedia page who was also our team leader.


To name a few: disruptive technologies, predictive algorithms, data is not just for nerds, the sheer velocity of change (e.g. when Zuckerberg was receiving accolades as the most innovative person in 2009, Instagram did not even exist). However two important points were my highlights.

Firstly, I learned what startups can teach large companies. I realized how complacency can become a sin. Many established corporates lack the innovation factor and even more so, a platform that encourages creativity. Although big companies can efficiently leverage their resources, formulate objectives to increase their shareholder value (on paper), and standardize their processes, they don’t know how to encourage emerging ideas enough. Large companies will have enough ‘tick boxers’ who make sure you are compliant with redundant company policies, but they won’t have enough executioners who can do new things. Large companies will have executives who can operate, but not enough talent who can create. One of the reasons Apple thrived was because Mr Jobs encouraged new ideas. There is a big opportunity for established companies to create a culture similar to the Startup weekend, not only for the sake of their business model, but to have a healthier work environment.

Secondly, I witnessed first-hand, the importance of agility when you are moving towards your newly formed goals, ideas or projects. Pivot is the key word to look for when starting your team, as there will always be an ‘aha moment’ where you have to rethink almost everything and start from square one. The team has to be agile enough to be flexible and respond to threats via iterative innovation. Our team comprised of the right balance of vision, technical skills, marketers, designers and business people (in other words a good combination of hackers, pirates and hustlers).

If you have an idea that you have always wanted to work on, there are resources available that will help you get there; that’s the beauty of today’s world which has come a long way since the dot com era.

You don’t have to attend a Startup event if you don’t want to; there are other tools such as business canvases, mentors, blogs, networks and analytics. But, if you have the opportunity, I definitely encourage participation as it offers a laid back ambience where you can explore your ever burning ideas.

The collaborative shared office campus that hosted Startup Weekend London had an unlimited supply of beer on tap (but that’s not the only reason why we all look so jolly in the photo above) along with an abundance of other snacks (nutritious of course). More importantly, you will gain the experience of working with people that you might not normally liaise with and develop some solid business acumen (like how to sell your minimal viable product within 60 seconds). And the most ‘innovative’ thing is that you will accomplish all of this within 54 hours!

Happy Startingup 🙂

Techstars London Winter 2014: The Trilogy

Just over 3 years ago Techstars announced its launch in London and in the intervening period, it has gone on to open a further three programmes that includes Techstars Berlin, the Techstars Metro Accelerator and the Barclays Accelerator which has recently opened in New York. Any doubts about whether the European tech scene has hit its stride has been dispelled.

Demand to get tickets for the Techstars London Demo Day has been unprecedented and with over 1,000 people signed up; making the event into one of the top 20 tech events in Europe. As a result, a second screen at the Genesis Cinema has also been opened to allow everyone to attend – effectively running a second Demo Day simultaneously – think Techstars “unplugged”.

Alongside the Demo Day itself, fireside talks and panel discussions have also been arranged with moderators including David Rowan (WIRED), Mike Butcher (Techcrunch) and Robin Wauters ( Participants include Liam Casey (PCH International), Nicolas Brusson (BlaBlacar), Usman Haque (Umbrellium), Roland Lamb (Roli) and Mikkel Svane (Zendesk); as well as investors from Union Square Ventures, Wellington Partners, Balderton Capital and Index Ventures.

From over 1,000 applications to pick from Techstars London Winter 2014 finally settled on 10 companies that includes our first company from Kazakhstan, and founders from the Middle East, Canada and the US. There is also a strong representation from London and elsewhere in the UK – including companies from Edinburgh, Cambridge and Norwich!! The batch also includes five companies led by previously successful entrepreneurs with the average age of the founders being 33 years old.

  • BidVine:  a service to help you find the right professional without all of the legwork;
  • Big Data for Humans: a B2B solution that automating customer insights without massive costs of employing data science;
  • GeoSpock: a real-time database that can handle can any scale data with no performance degradation;
  • Indybo: modular robotic toy company that transforms the way kids learn about programming and electronics;
  • Kimono: an enterprise messaging platform that transforms how people communicate at work, with an unbelievably simple solution;
  • Knyttan: is a vertically integrated fashion brand whose unique technology allows it to offer more designs and respond to trends faster than any existing retailer;
  • Lystable: is the platform for the lean enterprise, helping large organisations manage their suppliers and external resource;
  • Rainbird: is a symbolic AI platform that is transforming the way that businesses are automating human-intensive knowledge work;
  • Swarm: allows you to create and crowd fund a collaborative company.
  • UB: provides a native shopping basket for apps that aggregate products, significantly increasing their conversion rate.

Week Three: New Regulations Affect London's Startup Community

Over the course of five weeks, UP Global is highlighting the 5 key ingredients for Fostering A Thriving Startup Ecosystem’ in cities: Bogotá, Seattle, London, Tehran, and Nairobi

whitepaper, UP Global


The Imperial West Innovation District is located near London’s White City. The project’s centerpiece is a 48,000 sq. meter ‘hub’ intended to support 1,000 students, researchers, and entrepreneurs through the Imperial College London.

startup weekend LondonEntrepreneurs at Startup Weekend London. 

The project’s hub will use more than half of a £200 public investment by the United Kingdom to develop the cluster in support of a dense, innovative workforce, and a culture for startups.

Fostering a Startup and Innovation Ecosystem suggests that governments can encourage entrepreneurs by providing hospitable regulation for operating and investing in startups. The UK’s premier entrepreneurial cluster will also be supported by taxes placed upon several of Silicon Valley’s most influential companies.

The UK government has followed other European nations by proposing targeted tax policies for Google, Facebook, and Apple– including a 25% tax on the ‘economic activity’ conducted by tech multinationals in the UK.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this so-called, ‘Google Tax,’ is structured to raise approximately £1 billion in tax revenue for the UK over the next five years; and like legislation in the EU, is directed at taxing companies that sell digital ad products overseas.

The revenue created by the UK’s prospective corporate taxes are intended to support startup policies developed by the government. London’s officials have been investing in the city’s startup community for several years, and are eager for additional funding.

“In 2010, aides to Prime Minister David Cameron stumbled across a cluster of British high-tech companies that were thriving despite the recession – and without any government aid,” Emma Vandore, an urban policy expert, wrote in the Lisbon Council. “Alerted to the potential of Silicon Roundabout, as the cluster is known, officials were quick to see the potential – and to take action. Within months, the Tech City Initiative was conceived and launched by [Prime Minister] Cameron.”

The UK government uses this kind of official patronage to generate excitement and legitimacy for London’s tech scene, and beyond Prime Minister Cameron, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have also been recruited to help promote London’s startup potential.

UP Global, Startup Weekend LondonWilliam and Kate, no strangers to the London tech scene, play with HP TouchPad at L.A. event

In contrast with an otherwise-strict immigration policy, the UK has recently offered regulatory support for an ‘entrepreneur’s visa’ as a way to attract startup talent from sluggish markets in Europe. According to Vandore, this policy was made possible through monthly breakfasts at 10 Downing Street, in which regulators and entrepreneurs discussed startup ecosystems.

London seeks to out-compete its European counterparts by cultivating a strategic, physical ecosystem for entrepreneurs and researchers to collaborate. It has accommodated foreign entrepreneurs who want to work at startups in the UK, and has piled on the support of regulators and academics alike.

But in its attempt to cater to startup businesses, the UK has also targeted tech multinationals (who invest heavily in entrepreneurship,) with a 25% tax rate, and this may reduce the willing participation of large companies in London’s startup community.

The question is, will such a tax help or hurt London’s startup ecosystem over the next ten years?  


We invite you to read along and lend your perspective.
What challenges are you facing in your community?
What solutions have you developed?
What questions do you have about these communities?


Announcing the 10 Companies for the London Winter 2014 Class

Today Techstars London welcomes another exceptional group of entrepreneurs into our Winter 2014 Class.  From across a broad spectrum, companies come from a multiple of sectors including B2C and B2B, but also include for the first time hardware companies (IndyBo & Kynttan) and crypto-currency startups (Swarm).

As a demonstration of the growing maturity of the UK ecosystem, a greater number of teams come from the UK including London, but also Edinburgh, Cambridge and Norwich!!  However, as with other programmes we have also attracted overseas teams from United Arab Emirates and Kazakhstan.

As with the previous Techstars London programmes, half of the companies include entrepreneurs who have participated in successful startups – but we also welcome two companies founded by younger single founders.  A full list of the companies participating in Techstars London Winter 2014 are listed below.

  • BidVine is a fast, free way to get competing quotes for local services from interested and available professionals.
  • Big Data for Humans brings analytics to everyday marketers so they can substantially increase ecommerce revenues and profit.
  • GeoSpock is a real-time geo-location database that allows for location based services to scale bigger, be faster & run cheaper.
  • Indybo is a revolutionary robotics toy that teaches kids the basics of programming and electronics in a fun and intuitive way.
  • Kimono is a new enterprise communication platform, enabling organised, productive messaging across teams, groups and between organisations.
  • Knyttan sits at the intersection of hardware, software and knitwear creating a platform for unique, custom clothing on an industrial scale.
  • Lystable is a beautifully simple tool that helps agencies manage their suppliers.
  • Rainbird allows you to structure package your expert knowledge creating a virtual ‘you’ others can consult with to solve problems.
  • Swarm is a Bitcoin-powered crowdfunding network with unique incentive structures for distributing risk and sharing rewards.
  • UB provides customers a single basket for the whole internet, save items from any site and checkout everything at once.

Welcome to a new world of finance . . .

If you are a startup trying to break into the Financial sector, an exciting new FinTech organisation, Innovate Finance, which only launched last week, might be the difference between rocketing to success and running out of fuel before you really get going.

For any startup that has struggled to thrive because of strict regulations, a lack of resources and support, or due to a lack of access to the right connections, Innovate Finance is opening the door to a store of opportunities to solve those problems.

Uniting the key players of the industry, Innovate Finance is bringing together talented new startups with established financial companies, policymakers, regulators, investors and key commercial partners, in order to achieve a transformation of financial services that could not be done alone.

Not only does the organisation have backing from big businesses, who are offering resources, market access and expertise to new startups, it is also receiving a wealth of support from the UK government, which is contributing over £100m worth of investment and establishing a new regulatory environment to support innovation in the financial sector.

With its strong ecosystem and the promise of new events and opportunities for startups, it is a very exciting community for any entrepreneur looking to break into the financial sector.

It’s not just the world of banking that is opening its doors to entrepreneurs either. Aviva, one of the UK’s biggest insurers, is also one of the founding 50 members of Innovate Finance. If you’re a startup with an idea that could transform the insurance industry, then there’s a real opportunity to grab here. Perhaps you could be the startup that finds a way to simplify life insurance, or that utilises wearable technology to create a great solution for insurance customers, or even the startup that comes up with an interesting way to make insurance feel more personal.

There’s a gold mine of opportunities – it’s just about unearthing that nugget of brilliance that could transform the industry for the better.

To find out more about Innovate Finance head to and if you want to find out more about Aviva’s work with the startup community head to


Weaving innovation into the arts worlds from trends in software development in IT

reemMeet Reem Zahran, Director of Offering Development at IMS health.

Throughout her career in software and technology, spanning mobile, SaaS, cloud and business intelligence, she has delivered products and services by managing transformational change and deployment of modern development practices.

How to use this knowledge and expertise in other industries? With a deep interest in arts and culture, Reem visits the key trends in software development to highlights areas which will spur innovation in the arts world.


What is it exactly that you do?

I build and run software development teams in the information and technology arenas. My core skills are to build up high-performing teams and design and integrate organisations.

I am particularly good at hiring talent as well as spotting gaps in operational flows/practices and organisational models. At IMS Health where I work now, I have built the first ever offshore development centers, established the first global QA & Test practice and the first ever mobile solutions team. Another key achievement has been implementing the first global Software as a Service business intelligence platform with 99.5% availability serving more than 20,000 users with several offerings hosted on the platform.

IMS Health is the world’s leading information, services and technology company dedicated to making healthcare perform better. IMS Health’s core value is to integrate and connect more than 10 petabytes of complex healthcare data on diseases, treatments, costs and outcomes to enable our customers to run their operations more efficiently.


What are the benefits of connecting such huge amount of data? 

By building these solutions we’re able to provide customers with simple and compelling ways of visualising complex data relating to their needs in order to understand their performance against competitive parameters. This enables IMS to monetise the data in new and different ways while enabling the customers to consider different strategies and take actions to optimise performance. It helps identify behaviours and is used as a basis for innovation and creating new business models which would not be apparent otherwise.


What innovative technology do you develop and use?

Mobile and business intelligence technologies for data transformation and visualisation.

I’m seeing more opportunity to use technologies such as these within the arts and exhibitions. The current Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican includes an application that takes the visitor into more of his world creating a new interaction and experience. Using this application as part of the exhibition offers a very different experience about the artist, his fashion and his story.


What type of skills do you need in your line of work?

Knowing talent and recognising people’s potential and creativity are critical. Empowering people and bringing together teams to look at how to solve problems within constraints is paramount to delivering great solutions.

While cost cutting is usually at the top of the agenda, when setting up teams, it is paramount to get the right people to bring their skills, their approach and attitude.


 What are the top trends you see happening right now? To help guide the StartupWeekend Art entrepreneurs, which ones are the most relevant to improve how we fund, make, share and enjoy art?

  • Cloud computing, data management and hosting; for cost effectiveness and scalability
  • Mobile technology with augmented reality will bring even more interaction in how we access and use data. This is something to watch!
  • Unifying the customer experience and enchanting customers. Offering compelling, customised customer experiences I believe is going to be huge. Key questions here are: what is the personal journey of the customer.

This last point I feel is very relevant now to art promotion and enjoyment. Any gallery or museum should consider the journey of anyone viewing the art form to create a richer experience.


Have you got a specific idea you can share?

People now go to galleries and museums with their friends to share the experience. It is becoming more of a social event with mixed groups of people and this dynamic offers new opportunities. I think some questions that need to be considered are:

  • Who do they go with?
  • What do they do in and around the exhibit?
  • How do they enjoy and share the experience?

Looking into this and gathering this type of data would help identify how to sustain custom and create new services/experiences. Considering how to collect data from these customers and how to build a view of the population of art lovers and the people they introduce to the exhibits will help create new value propositions.

Another route in integrating art into life could be facilitated using augmented reality for example, becoming part of the contemporary artists’ toolkit, providing remote views into exhibitions, buying limited edition art and so on.


Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

Come Join us for Techstars Demo Day in London – All are Welcome!

Techstars loves the London startup community, and for the first time ever we’re inviting the larger community to come attend Demo Day on June 20th, 2014. Check out some of the innovative companies you’ll get to hear from!

RSVP here: 

Following are 10 reasons why this cohort is awesome and you should come and attend.

1. We’re starting to like cricket



2. We’ve become fascinated with Sainsburys cookies



3. We work hard – sometimes too hard



4. We embrace the English weather



5. We love sharing



6. We work even at networking drinks



7. We love Oculus Rift c/o Facebook



8. Some of us have adopted royal manners



9. We work only on standing desks



10. We’ve learned to love English takeaway