Mar 31st, 2020
Since joining Techstars in 2014, Jenny Fielding has been helping entrepreneurs achieve their goals. While this journey may be more challenging now than it has at other times in the past, she's confident that her experience, team, and the resources of the Techstars NYC Accelerator are exactly the kind of support innovative founders need right now.
When I founded my first tech startup in NYC in 2006 (the same year that Techstars kicked off in Boulder), the region was a startup desert. Devoid of resources and community, local angel groups made founders pay to pitch and tech meetups were so small that they took place in tiny studio apartments.
Fast forward to 2020 and NYC is the second-largest tech ecosystem in the world and a great place to build and scale a startup.
But what makes for a thriving ecosystem is not just the obvious attributes - access to world-class talent, corporate partners, and investors, but rather the uniquely supportive and engaged local startup community. I’ve been amazed - but not surprised - to see how our community has come together to support its own during this crisis. We’ve seen conferences and meet-ups flip to virtual and mentoring sessions embrace Zoom. We have seen VCs lean-in, continuing to engage with founders and even issue term sheets! Most importantly, we’ve seen people offer genuine concern and care for each other and their collective success.
Admittedly, these last weeks have been rough for everyone. As the Managing Director of Techstars New York, I’ve found it difficult to see so many of our founders in such a vulnerable and concerned state. I’ve spoken to the majority of the 130 companies in my portfolio (many of whom are Techstars graduates) in an effort to be supportive. Having been a founder during the 2008 financial meltdown, I know what uncertainty and constant anxiety feels like. It sucks.
That said, I’ve never been more pumped to lead Techstars New York. The program provides ample resources for founders and our network offers the extra support that entrepreneurs need in these difficult times.
In response to the current crisis, we are hosting weekly AMAs with founders, investors and industry experts, supplying timely funding and partnership opportunities, and facilitating individual coaching sessions on topics like mental wellness and financial (re)forecasting. Collectively, our team has a good deal of experience navigating economic downturns and we are helping founders get through this challenging time as calmly as possible.
As we focus on our upcoming summer 2020 program, you can be sure we are taking precautions necessary to make sure everyone is safe and healthy. I will continue to ensure that we are doing all we can to minimize the risks and get us successfully through this crisis. While we currently plan to run an in-person program at our office in NYC, we have a lot of expertise in remote working and running virtual events and programs and will be able to pivot to a virtual format at any time, if necessary. In other words, we are ready!
Reflecting on some of the program themes that I outlined earlier this year, now is the time to lean into solutions around health, wealth, and happiness. At Techstars we believe that entrepreneurs hold the keys to solving the greatest challenges of our time and we are hopeful that they will kick-start the creation of game-changing companies.
Jenny Fielding is the Managing Director of Techstars New York and multi-time tech founder. Follow her on Twitter @jefielding.
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