← Techstars Blog

Thanks to all who attended our 3PM panel to hear from Scott Case, founder of the Startup America Partnership, Trey Bowles of the DEC, Benjamin Forman of ZBoard, and Thomas Knoll, founder of clipPR on the topic of “Founders Supporting Startups.”

photo (37)

Here are some highlights from the panel discussion:

On unexpected outcomes from founder networks:

  • “Knowing things that are ‘under the radar’ is valuable. Knowledge of things that are huge already aren’t interesting.” – Ben

  • “If you go to events like this [CES], you learn things that no one else knows.” – Ben

  • Constantly being passionate and sharing what you’re doing with others with spread your brand, personality, product much further.” – Ben

  • “When we create this theory that collaboration is better than competition we see the benefits” – Trey

  • “You will see generations of companies down the road because of the time that communities spent together.” – Trey

  • “The biggest thing that makes this possible is hearing people say ‘this is really hard’ in one on one conversation.” – Thomas

On instigating new professional relationships:

  • “Try to lead with a give; it’s easiest to build a relationship when you’re giving something.” – Ben

  • “If you don’t have anything to give, maybe you shouldn’t be talking to that person.” – Ben

  • “Give before you ask” – Ben

  • “I set up time every week for 30 minute calls with anyone who wants to talk.” – Trey

  • “Get involved in your community at whatever capacity that might be.” – Trey

 On how mentees can create more effective mentor sessions: 

  • “Email the mentor three questions that could be read on their phone on the way to the meeting – that don’t require substantial preparation.” – Trey

  • “Honor the time that you have with the mentor. Wrap the call up at 28 minutes if it’s a 30 minute time block.” – Trey

  • “Take the advice you got in the first meeting to earn a second meeting.” – Trey

  • “Mentors want to be helpful, but you need to make it easy for us to help you so that we continue doing so.” – Trey

  • “Ask specific questions. Big, vague questions will yield a worse answer and feel like a homework assignment for me.” – Ben

  • “Focused questions get answers from me that they can actually use.” – Ben

  • “I send mentees questions – What do you want to get out of this? Can you describe the problem that you’re solving?” – Thomas

Panelists stayed after the discussion to meet one-on-one with anyone who had questions or who sought mentoring.

officehours3 officehours2

Participants also came to the UP Global Stage to pitch their startups this afternoon and receive pitch feedback from experienced founders and mentors including Scott Case, Trey Bowles, T.A. McCann, Nick Seguin, and Kate Drane.

photo (38)

photo (39)



Claire Topalian Claire Topalian
(@clairetopalian) Blog, Professional Writing, Communications and PR Specialist. I craft compelling, mission-driven content for companies and individuals that amplifies brand awareness, fosters community, and drives engagement. My experience includes work with tech startups, major corporations, and international non-profits. @clairetopalian