5 Questions with Martin Olczyk

March 1st, 2020

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2-min read

Martin is an MD at Techstars, and with more than 10 years of experience in the tech industry, he is currently running the Techstars Smart Mobility Accelerator in Turin, Italy. Previously, he was the MD at accelerator programs in Berlin and Amsterdam. During his career, he co-founded four companies across diverse industries, where he served in CEO/CFO/COO positions. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he spent several years in mergers & acquisitions.

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

As we invest in the early stages, the teams’ credentials have the highest priority. A coachable, fast-executing, and complementary team with leadership abilities is more important than product features. In addition, the target market size and growth projections are important to us. Furthermore, I personally like to see an ambitious but realistic sales and execution plan, a sustainable competitive advantage, and at least a path to revenues.

02. How have learnings from your career and entrepreneurial journey prepared you to be a successful Techstars MD?

Starting several companies across different industries, in different countries, failing and succeeding, raising venture capital, and being in the founders’ skin for several years, working relentlessly to build a successful company as well as working in mergers & acquisitions with clients across the globe, from startups to large corporations, gave me a very broad skill set to master challenges founders face every day across the entire lifecycle of a company. But my biggest learning during my entire career was to develop a deep sense for people across all continents, diverse backgrounds, and cultures.

03. What do our partners Compagnia Di San Paolo, Fondazione CRT, and the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center bring to the accelerator?

Our partners bring a deeply committed team of mentors and a global industry network to the accelerator.


Learn more about how Techstars mentors work: read the Techstars Mentor Manifesto.


04. Describe a situation with a startup founder or team where you felt like you made a difference.

I have invested in a great team with a not-so-great product. The team had no product-market fit, and was running against a wall. During our program and many brutally honest conversations, we were able to steer them in the right direction, help them to find product-market fit, and set the company for success.

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

This is a philosophy I live and breathe at Techstars—24/7, 365 days a year. The #GiveFirst mantra goes far beyond entrepreneurship for me and impacts my private life, where I increased to give first since joining Techstars. Give without expecting anything in return and you will experience the magic!


Learn more about Techstars accelerators and see which ones are accepting applications now.

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