Thoughts On TechStars

Today I was compiling a list of quotes from past TechStars companies.  I wanted to link to a few and add on a few thoughts:

My years at TechStars have been the most memorable, meaningful and intellectually stimulating of my life.  It is such a hard thing to explain, but in the same way, it is so simple.

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Why TechStars is Special

I spend my days around people that care.  People that are happy.  Folks that are working to change part of the world for the better.

This environment is the perfect place to build startups.

I freaking love startups, and at TechStars, we are funding up to 30 teams a year now.  30 teams a year have a life changing experience.  I get to be a part of it.  Pinch me.  We operate out of Boulder which I love, Boston, which I spent some of my college years and Seattle, which I grew up near (Pacific Northwest, close enough eh?).  TechStars invests a ton of coaching and mentorship, some office space, $6k per cofounder for a cut of 6% of the company.   This is one of my favorite parts of the application, because plenty of founders wonder if it is worth it.  I haven’t heard from a single founder after participating in the program that the 6 points wasn’t worth it.  One even went to say:

I robbed David Cohen blind. 6 points is a steal. Any start up with promise will earn these back ten-fold. You will get tremendous mentors, new customers, new partners, new investors, and a network of friends that will change your life.
You are surrounded by people that want to give back and teach what they wish they knew when starting their first startup.  There is some magic in that.

Office Space the Movie at Red Rocks

Friendships

Perhaps the best kept secret of the program is all the good folks you will meet. It isn’t just the cofounders, or the mentors, or the staff.  All play huge roles, but the community around everyone is the big special.
One of my good friends Mark O’Sullivan (met at TechStars) blogs:
So what did I really do over the last three months? 18 hour days, 7 days a week, no sleep, constantly nervous, lost 15 lbs, turned Vanilla into a business. Yes. All of that. But what do I come out of TechStars with besides a business? Friends. Friends for life.

So that’s me now: a TechStar for life.

I’ve met some of my best friends, watch people grow up, grow up myself and participate is some wicked smart discussions.

Stepping Up

Perhaps the best part of what I get to be a part of is watching people, perhaps for the first time in their life, step up in front of a group of people and say ‘this is what I am passionate about, something I think that you are going to love.’

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Causing Change

If you hang around this group long enough you are meeting people that are causing serious change around the world.  I can’t think of many places where that rings true.

The Flatirons from the St. Julian with Tim Ferriss

Momentum

The TechStars demo day creates a huge momentum push if you plan on raising money.   I met with a team last week that wanted to know in detail just how the TS teams were raising their funding in two or three months (the team had been going for over a year).  TechStars has a track record.  I’m not an investor, but after seeing many investors get into a few deals, I can say the network and momentum help.

Humble Yet Bold

The mentor network and leadership at TechStars is best described as humble, yet bold.  This is from a quote by Bob Ryne of Outward Bound: “Be firm yet gentle, humble yet bold, swayed always by beauty and truth.”  There is a gentle focus on character, not by any curriculum but on the strength of the community.

It certainly has a style to it.  If this fits you, or you have friends looking to really take off on a startup, send them over.

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