Sarah Bain is Venture Principal for The Minnesota Twins Accelerator by Techstars and Techstars Farm to Fork. Before moving into the Venture Principal role, Sarah was a Senior Investment Manager at Techstars where she helped maximize the health and growth of over 150 Techstars portfolio companies with a market cap of $3.4 billion by deploying capital according to fund strategies, assisting companies through mentorship and connections to other capital resources, talent, customers, and expertise. She also spent 3 years running the Techstars Retail Accelerator in partnership with Target. Sarah’s passion for supporting entrepreneurs started while working on growing partnerships for a startup in New York City before working for Techstars.
01. What are the key elements you are looking for when sourcing startups for the Minnesota Twins Accelerator?
Team, team, team...aka great founders. Do they show passion? Do they show drive? Do they seem genuine? Do they have curiosity and intellectual honesty, by which I mean, are they honest with themselves and are they willing to admit when they don’t know something? Traction can be important, but at this stage traction means early usage or adoption not revenue. I also love seeing things that are completely different from what I’ve seen before - either from a product or business model perspective. Is this something that could help reinvent what a professional sports league looks like or can be? Will this truly innovate across the sports and entertainment spaces?
02. What are some of the biggest learnings from your career and the entrepreneurial journey that you bring to being a Techstars Venture Principal?
That being a founder and an entrepreneur is hard. My experience working with so many founders has made me more empathetic to their struggles and journey. It has allowed me to be a more effective thought partner.
03. What is your favorite thing about the Twin Cities startup scene?
The people. I’ve made great friends, found wonderful mentors, and am continually impressed by the amazing things members of our community are accomplishing. Plus, we have so many cool companies that are on the brink of really breaking out.
04. What do The Minnesota Twins bring to the accelerator?
They’ve made an active commitment to innovation and want to be leaders, something really cool to see from a brand that is so established and well-known. I grew up in Minnesota, and have seen firsthand the impact the Twins make in our community on the field and off, which aligns nicely with Techstars #GiveFirst mentality. Plus, people may not immediately think of technology when they think of baseball, but the Twins commitment to cutting-edge tech and data is really exciting for the entertainment and sports tech ecosystem.
05. Why is growing diversity in entrepreneurship so important to you?
Data shows that VC funding is going to founders with existing networks, connections, and resources — things that many underrepresented and female founders don’t have access to. Investors are missing out on so many exceptional founders and companies, and it’s important for organizations like Techstars to be at the forefront of making capital and resources available for every founder.
Learn more about The Minnesota Twins Accelerator by Techstars.