Office Hours: Techstars Healthcare (Seattle)

Who: Startups interested in applying for the Techstars Healthcare Accelerator

What: Office hours

When: September 29

Where: Seattle, Washington

Details: Click here to register for the event.

Info Session: Techstars Healthcare (Seattle)

Who: Startups interested in applying for the Techstars Healthcare Accelerator

What: Info Session

When: September 28

Where: Galvanize Seattle – Pioneer Square – 111 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

Details: Click here to register for the event.

Info Session: Techstars Seattle (Portland)

Who: Startups interested in applying for the Techstars Seattle Accelerator

What: Info Session

When: September 27

Where: CENTRL Office, 1355 NW Everett, Portland, OR 97209

Details: Click here to register for the event.

Office Hours: Techstars Seattle (Portland)

Who: Startups interested in applying for the Techstars Seattle Accelerator

What: Office Hours

When: September 27

Where: Portland, Oregon

Details: Click here to register for the event.

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


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


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


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


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


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!


5 Questions to Ask Every VC

Raising money from VC’s creates a long-term relationship, so you may as well get a good understanding of each other and set up the foundation for a strong two-way dialog.  The VC needs you as much as you need them, so the discussions should feel balanced where you’re learning about each other on equal footing.  So, I suggest these questions to begin the first meeting and one important one at the end before you go.  Getting started….

1. I’ve done my general research on the firm but tell me a bit more about the current fund? They should answer with the fund size (e.g. 200M), when it was raised, total invested to date, the remainder left for follow-on investments.  Have they had any exits from the current fund (which companies, you can research later to find out how much they invested and likely returned)?  Does the fund has any specific theme or stage focus (seed, Series A…)?   Depending on the answers, you can get a sense of how likely they are to do new investments (you) and how the fund is performing so far (are they looking for some swing-for-the-fences (they have already done well on something or are very confident) or need safer bets).  If early in the fund life (they usually invest aggressively in years 1-4, then follow-on with good companies years 4-7 and need to return the fund in years 7-10, but are likely going out to raise new funds around year 5-7 depending on how it’s all been going) you get more latitude in both their interest and time to make the company work.  So, understanding where you fall in their overall cycle is important.

2. For the last few investments you (partner) or the firm did, can you tell me about the dynamics?  This should include their check size, did they lead or follow someone else, how long did the process take from first meeting to a funding decision?  You are looking for a clear process, a timeline of 4-6 weeks (or less).

3. Can you tell me how the firm makes decisions?  This should include some generic dialog about the # of partners, who decides on what, when they have meetings (most on Monday’s) and how many deals they have in progress right now.  Make sure you have some sense of the pecking order of the partner you are working with and how many other people you will need to convince.  New guys have a harder time doing deals or they likely take longer as they want to satisfy everyone and/or doing safer bets, so tenure, rank and the recent success of the partner matters.

4. Is there any area where you think you/your firm adds unique or disproportionate value?  Most VC’s give you a bullshit answer about a big network, ability to connect you with X or Y and some help with building out your team.  If you hear some good specifics, you can be done with this question.  If you get vague answers (highly likely), you can press one further with, “If I talked to 2-3 of your CEOs (currently funded companies) what would they say is an area where you have been especially helpful?”  Again, you’re looking for some specifics and preferably in areas where you need help to grow your company.

Now do your pitch…keep it shorter than you think it should be (~30 mins), pause for questions along they way…don’t read your slides…focus on customer traction and specifics…make sure they know how much you are raising and where you are in the process… then…time to go for the close…

5. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being you’re going to give me term sheet Monday with no questions on valuation, based on what we’ve discussed, how would you score this opportunity? You’re likely to get some squirming on this one but wait for an answer.  If you sucked, you are likely to get a 5 or 6 (they are being kind and not telling you it’s really a 3).  7-8 is pretty good and you’re not likely to get a 9 or 10, but if so, awesome for you!  I usually follow this up with a “what would we need to do/focus on to get you to a 9?”  This pins them into quantifying the aspects where you need to improve, at least for their investment criteria.  In some cases, they will ask for things that you do not plan to do and be OK with that as VCs vary widely on their criteria which can be affected by many things, some in your control, many not so much.

With the answers to these questions in hand, you should have a very good sense of the likelihood of next steps or an investment.  With issues around fund dynamics, you’re not likely to change that (unless you are a 9 or 10).  For the areas to improve, keep the investor updated when you make marked progress in these areas, usually around customer traction, shipping product or team additions. Regardless, this dialog has demonstrated that you have an interest in them, that you can ask specific questions and understand how the relationship might blossom.

Announcing Techstars Seattle Class of 2016!

We are excited to announce the nine companies that will be joining the Techstars Seattle 2016 program. This is our seventh year of Techstars Seattle — past classes have helped launch the success of companies like Remitly, Outreach, Bizible, Leanplum and Apptentive — and our program offers accepted companies access to the strongest ecosystem of investors, mentors, founders and corporate partners in the Pacific Northwest.

As with past classes, our 2016 class embodies the best of our regional innovation ecosystem, tapping unique centers of excellence like space / satellite communications, data visualization, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs / drones), online gaming, retail and enterprise SaaS. The program begins on Monday, February 22 and culminates with a Community Demo Day on May 18th, where the companies will pitch their solution and seek investments from top Pacific Northwest angel investors and venture capitalists.

The nine companies in the Techstars Seattle Class of 2016 are listed below:

Beam: connecting gamers through interactive live streaming

DroneSeed: replanting forests safer and 10X cheaper. Using drones.

Fig Loans: affordable credit for low income families.

Keepe: efficient marketplace connecting Property Managers & Contractors.

Kepler Communications: real-time access to space borne data.

Reflect: embedded analytics for your app.

Shyft: shift swapping made easy.

Subcurrent: a Slack bot for collecting simple and powerful feedback at work.

Validated: free shipping for yourself!

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! 


Meet the Seattle Techstars Class of 2015

We’re incredibly excited to introduce the Techstars Seattle class of 2015! We’ve spent the last several months reading applications, interviewing teams, and agonizing over our choices, but we’re finally ready to announce the eleven companies that are joining us here in Startup Hall, starting today.

As in past years, we’ve selected a class that reflects — and is best positioned to leverage — the deepest wells of technical and entrepreneurial excellence here in the Pacific Northwest. The eleven companies selected this year include teams focused on enterprise software and security, gaming and virtual reality, e-commerce and marketplaces, financial services, developer tools and data science. In addition to a strong cohort of local startups, we’re also happy to be welcoming teams from San Francisco, San Diego, British Columbia, Tel Aviv and Hong Kong.

The individual companies in this year’s class are listed below. We’re thrilled to welcome them to the Techstars Seattle community and look forward to keeping you updated on their progress between now and Demo Day.

AtCipher: Cloud security and zero-knowledge key management solutions Automatically maintainable UI components style guide
Candy Jar: Your online candy store
DataBlade: Web-based development environment for data analysis
Fish Bowl VR: On-demand usability testing for virtual reality
Giftbit: Accountable, money-back gift cards for business buyers
Innervate: Building massive communities of online gamers
Lightboard: Graphic design on demand
Matcherino: Crowd-funded e-sport matches
Mentio: Your mobile business mentor
ZIIBRA: Simple e-commerce for outstanding entrepreneurs

The Techstars Experience: Remitly’s Story

What’s it like to go through a Techstars program? Why choose our accelerator program over others?

This is the fourth post in our blog series,“The Techstars Experience,” with some thoughts from Matt Oppenheimer, Co-Founder and CEO of Remitly, an easy, fast, affordable way to send money online. Matt and his co-founders, Josh Hug and Shivaas Gulati, completed the Techstars Seattle 2011 Fall program.

Here are some highlights from Matt’s post, entitled, “Techstars is a Bargain.”

[re: the network and finding co-founders]
I love the quote, ‘if you’re the smartest guy in the room, you’re in the wrong room.’ You won’t be the smartest guy in the room during Techstars. Also, if you need an intro, it feels like you’re always one degree away from anyone in the world when you’re part of the Techstars network.

“Everyone gets something slightly different out of Techstars. For me, it was the product network. Having come from the banking industry, I had no product experience or network. Even before being accepted to Techstars, the Techstars network connected me to my co-founding engineer (Shivaas Gulati) so we could apply to Techstars and we then met our co-founder and Chief Product Officer (Josh Hug) in the Techstars program. Josh was our lead mentor and, after being co-founder and CEO of Shelfari (acquired by Amazon in 2008), he was looking to start his next company. Any smart founder knows that your team, especially your co-founders, make or break a business. The fact that I met both of my co-founders via Techstars was invaluable.”

[re: on focus & credibility]

  • Focus/momentum: If you really want to grow a business, you need to focus on it 100%. Techstars is a good launch pad to make this leap, if you haven’t already.
  • Credibility: Hundreds and hundreds of applicants, 10 companies. That’s a valuable stamp of approval and startups need that stamp to break through the clutter when raising capital, recruiting, etc.

[re: integrity]

“Knowing the integrity and character of the Techstars leadership team, it was no surprise that they recently announced their “Equity Back Guarantee. Like many great brands (Costco, Nordstrom, etc), Techstars can offer this because they know how much value they’re providing founders who participate in their programs.”

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read Matt’s full post

Want to apply to Techstars? Check out our Program Schedule.