Techstars is Awesome

Entrepreneurial Communities, How to pitch a VC, Customer Development.  These were a few of the topics that were discussed at the Techstars Network Conference in Las Vegas last weekend.  This was a gold mine, for an entrepreneur in his 20’s (since I turn 30 this week, I’m using that phrase excessively).

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I plan to write separate posts on each of the topics above, but this post is about how Techstars is building a dynasty among startup accelerators while simultaneously lifting up accelerators nationwide.

In early 2011 Techstars decided to launch theTechstars Network – a group of independently owned and operated accelerator programs from around the globe.  The network currently has about 35 programs participating. Not only is this network great for all of the participating programs, it has placed Techstars at the center of the accelerator space.

David Cohen, founder of Techstars says this about the network,

“Over the next 3 years, the TechStars Network will ensure that 5,000 successful and experienced entrepreneurs and investors will mentor and support 6,000 promising young entrepreneurs, increasing their success rate tenfold and creating 25,000 new jobs by 2015 and a sustained engine for growing these figures over time.”

David Cohen

I believe that the Techstars Network will accomplish all of that, as well as the following:

  • Increase deal flow for all programs in the network – this helps all programs.
  • Bring the overall quality of participating programs up significantly – this helps entrepreneurs.
  • Secure Techstars place as the “Stanford” of accelerators for startup entrepreneurs – this helps Techstars.

So, that makes it a win, win, win, right?  Ok, so maybe it’s more like win, win more, and win the most, respectively for programs, entrepreneurs, and Techstars.  But, how can you argue with a program that is benefiting all parties.  It’s brilliant.  And to be honest, Techstars is doing plenty of other things right to be the number one accelerator.

As a participant of an accelerator (Betaspring, Providence, RI) this past summer, I’ve already witnessed some of the benefits of the network first hand.  When my team started the application process, we went straight to the list of Techstars Network programs to decide where we wanted to apply. This essentially gave programs that weren’t on this list a huge disadvantage. And, with the exception of Y Combinator, we didn’t even consider applying to any accelerators that weren’t in the Techstars Network.

brad feld One benefit to the network that was not in place at the time we applied was the Universal Application Process.  Teams can now apply at accelerato.rs and fill out one application for all the accelerators to which they wish to apply.  The application process allows for accelerators (even ones that aren’t a part of the Techstars Network) to accept a standard set of accelerator application questions and even add custom questions if desired.  The Universal Application is an initiative supported by the Kaufman Foundation, which will use aggregate data from applications for statistical purposes.  Individual application information is private to the accelerator that owns the application.  I would encourage all accelerators to use this application process as it saves entrepreneurs tons of time (our most valuable resource) and includes some great tools for acceptance selection.

I’m excited about all of the good that the Techstars Network will do for startups.  I clearly remember one quote that David Cohen made at the event, “If it’s good for the entrepreneur, then we support it”.  I genuinely believe that about David and Techstars.  I’d like to thank them and every other initiative that is helping startup entrepreneurs across the globe.