5 Questions with Jonathan Fentzke, Managing Director of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator

February 10th, 2022

Dr. Fentzke, Managing Director of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, is a space scientist by training and an experienced entrepreneur, mentor, and investor. Prior to Techstars, he served as CEO of FKM Group and was a cofounder and Board Director at OmniEarth and InSpace. He is an advisor/mentor at 43North, Parallel18, OneTen Capital, Grupo Guayacán. His Twitter handle is @jtfentzke.

01. What are the key elements you look for when sourcing startups for the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator?

I’m looking for a founding team that has a near obsession with solving a particular problem, the courage to challenge the status quo, and a willingness to not take themselves too seriously.

02. What are some of the biggest learnings from your career and entrepreneurial journey that you bring to being a Techstars MD?

I’ve spent the last 20 years developing a fundamental understanding of cutting edge technology and building products around that. Applying those lessons learned in deeptech and dual-use along with experiences traveling and working with teams around the world definitely help founders. Simply put, teamwork makes the dream work.

03. What do our partners, JPL NASA, US Air Force, Lockheed Martin, SAIC, Arrow, and IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) North America bring to the accelerator?

Our partners bring a vast network of support and access to customer discovery and real problems in need of non-traditional solutions. They also have world class mentors and subject matter experts.

04. What does Give First mean to you, and how do you apply it in your work and life?

#GiveFirst is a simple phrase with a big impact. Do the right thing, for the right reasons. It’s karma for entrepreneurs.

05. If you could have coffee with any entrepreneur, who would it be and why?

It has to be Alberto Santos-Dumont. He flew the first aircraft (not the brothers Wright) and contributed all of his inventions to society without patent protection. He came from a family of coffee producers in Brazil, so it seems only fitting (noting my wife is a Brazilian scientist, so I’m biased).


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