The Acceleration of TechStars

It dawned on me last night that as of tomorrow TechStars will have three programs running at same time with about 40 companies actively engaged in programs in Boston, New York, and San Antonio. Last week David Cohen, the co-founder and CEO of TechStars announced that he had raised a new $28 million seed fund called Bullet Time Ventures II. The final companies are being selected for The Kinect Accelerator.  The TechStars Boulder applications for this summer’s program close on Friday March 16th.

Not including the active programs, 126 companies have gone through TechStars since we ran our first program in Boulder in the Summer of 2007. We publish all of the results – as of now 110 are still active, 8 have been acquired, and 8 have failed. 772 people are employed by these companies. The percentage of companies getting funded at the end of a class has increased from 70% in 2007 to 90%. When we started, companies received $12,000 to $18,000 depending on number of founders. Today, they receive that, plus $100,000 in the form of a convertible note.

I’m most proud of the mentor network that has been created, the engagement from TechStars alumni in new companies, and the community involvement of local angels and VC investors in each geography where the programs occur. Whenever I visit one of the programs, the energy level is off the charts, whether it’s the first day or the 73rd day of the program.

In 2007, the idea of an accelerator was a new concept. Today it’s mainstream, as evidenced by the proliferation of accelerators around the goal and exemplified by the Global Accelerator Network.

The number of things in play at TechStars in 2012 is awesome. I’m incredibly proud of the entire team for what they’ve created, and where they are going with it.

If you are an entrepreneur, don’t miss out. Apply for TechStars Boulder now. And be part of the awesomeness being created in 2012 by TechStars.

  • Brad, its a terrific program and you rightly should be very proud of what you & David started.


    • Thx Chris. And thanks for all of your help and involvement!

  • I attended TS4AD last week and the quality level of mentors and applicants is phenomenal. I’m lucky to be part of the Boulder/Denver community and have been working closely with several mentors. These people are AWESOME because they care about you as an entrepreneur, they genuinely want to help and they become catalyst for your success! 

  • Brad, we’re rooting you and David on. I continue to be blown away by what this has turned into. It’s pushed us to really rethink the incubation and acceleration we’re personally involved in. Would love some commentary on how the convertible note process works and how the pay-back ratchet works. Again, congratulations for all you’re doing here. I’m really proud of you guys for doing this for our entrepreneurs. Noble as hell. 

  • Indeed amazing progress and one hell of an agent of change!

  • Congratulations on all of your success!  It’s spurred a host of other clones in South Korea as well.  Good luck!

  • Boulder is such a special place, not to mention the world famous TechStars’ Bunker… Impressive to see this core energy adapted to new locations, programs, and verticals with increasing levels of success!

  • There is no doubt in my mind [email protected]:twitter would not be having the success we’re having today [email protected]:twitter. In fact, there are many moments, when I seriously question if we’d even have made it through the summer of 2011 — let alone to our first customer, our first round of funding, and our first set of real results — without TechStars. 

    And we continue to reap the benefits of the network, the wisdom of the mentors, and the prestige of the brand. Thanks, Brad and David for building the community that is empowering us to build our company.

  • It’s awesome to have you guys here in Boulder. You’re changing the world for the better.

  • Brad, do you ever worry about being a victim of your own success?   Growth is easy to demonstrate to investors.  A commitment to quality is less so.

    40, 60, 80 companies… what about the dilution of mentors, dilution of the impact of demo day, of the TS brand itself?  Or is the larger goal just to spread the culture of entrepreneur ship to the world at large, the more the merrier…?

    • I’m obsessed with quality. Part of the reason that the individual programs are still only 10 “or so” companies is for exactly this reason. We have been experimenting with taking more – 12, 13, 15, but feel like we are maxing out at 15 per program.

      Same with mentors. We have many more people who want to be mentors in each geography than we take as mentors. If mentors aren’t active in a particular program cycle, we rotate them out and try new mentors. The goal is high quality engagement (both directions – mentor and mentee).

      With the brand we run experiments as well. When we launched the TechStars Network, we thought it would be a positive and the network members wouldn’t misuse the brand. Most didn’t, but the few that did hurt things for everyone. So we changed the TechStars Network to the Global Accelerator Network, expanded the board to include founders of non-TechStars accelerators, and broadened the focus, while maintaining out commitment to help other accelerators around the world grow and develop with high quality.
      My underlying motivation and belief is that there is an enormous amount of additional impact we can have. I want to help spread it far and wide, but quality always trumps quantity.

      • Awesome.  Well 4 classes with 15 companies each is much more attractive than one class with 60 companies.  Anyone whos been in public school in the last 20 years knows this.

  • Thanks for mentioning Global Accelerator Network. Appreciate that!

  • Thanks for helping make this possible Brad.

  • Thx to TS and all the other accelerators, it’s a wonderful time to be an entrepreneur. 

  • Yaniv Tal

    Just a few months ago I was one of those people saying “There’s no way I’m going to a summer camp for startups”. I then took an actual look at what the program is and realized how thickheaded I was being. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of entrepreneurs went through this same process. Like all innovators (and you guys are innovating) there’s an uphill battle of educating your customers and the public. I’m sure you faced some headwinds along the way but you’ve clearly passed the tipping point. There are now so many people advocating for your program that it’s become impossible to ignore. I had some e-mail exchanges with Clare and she introduced me to a founder in the Tech Stars Cloud program. He was incredibly friendly and the energy of having a founder help you as a complete stranger is infectious. Keep it up – it’s simply amazing.

    • Thx – we’ve worked hard to generate exactly the kind of enthusiasm and response you are feeling!

      • Yaniv Tal

        now we just have to make the cut. we’ll be applying to the seattle and NY programs. we’re called affluence dining!

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