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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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A Quality Benchmark for Accelerators: The Global Accelerator Network

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Global Accelerator NetworkWhen David Cohen and I came up with the idea for the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) in 2010, we counted roughly 100 accelerator programs around the US that were founded following the Techstars model. We labeled Techstars a “mentor driven accelerator” and reached out to others who were using the same approach to create what became GAN. From that initial outreach, 16 high quality accelerator programs joined us to launch the network.

Since then, accelerators have appeared all over the world. Some accelerators are incredibly high quality. Others are not. Some are major contributors to their startup communities. Others are detrimental to it. As with everything new that grows quickly, it’s a chaotic system with lots of innovation, creative destruction, and rapid change and learning that – if done well – is a great example of the power of the Lean Startup approach to entrepreneurship.

Today, the Global Accelerator Network is a worldwide organization of 52 accelerators located in over 60 cities around the world. We’ve maintained a high quality across the membership while expanding the network by being selective. Not every accelerator is/could be/would be a member in GAN, nor is it designed that way. To become a member, each accelerator must meet the following strict criteria:

  • Operate a 3-6 month long program.
  • Provide some sort of seed capital to their founders.
  • Take a small amount of equity (usually ~6%) and overall have terms that are favorable to entrepreneurs.
  • Take no less than 5 and no more than 12 companies at a time.
  • Surround those companies with 40-80 mentors.
  • Have funding for a two-year runway of the program.
  • Have physical space available for their program.
  • Have a strong management team who are typically proven entrepreneurs

In addition to these eight criteria, all members follow the established ethos (give before you get; put entrepreneurs first) of accelerators in  GAN, including a thorough review of an accelerator’s term sheets and numerous conversations to vet accelerator founders’ intentions and operational practices. We also review their leadership and mentor pool to ensure value.

Becoming a member in the GAN is not easy, but neither is operating a quality accelerator program. Feel free to drop me an email if you want to learn more about joining GAN.

The Naked Entrepreneur Interviews

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Sean Wise, a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, has an awesome web interview series called The Naked Entrepreneur Show. Sean is the interviewer for a 45 minute studio show that is entirely produced by students at Ryerson.

When I was in Toronto in the fall, I did an episode with him – it’s definitely in the top 10 of the interviews I’ve done.

David Cohen, the CEO of TechStars, also did an interview on The Naked Entrepreneur.

Enjoy. And it’s going to be fun to see what happens with the SEO on this.

Eugene Chung – New TechStars NY Managing Director

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Over at the TechStars blog today, David Cohen introduced the new Managing Director for TechStars in New York, Eugene Chung.

Thirty-five great candidates were interviewed for this position; the only offer we extended was to Eugene. His background includes NY-area investments BuzzFeed and Bedrocket while he was at New Enterprise Associates. Prior to that, he worked  at Warbug Pincus and Morgan Stanley. We were looking for deep competence and culture fit with TechStars and we found it with Eugene.

It’s been amazing to me to see TechStars NY grow since David Cohen and David Tisch launched it in the Winter of 2011. Tisch provided amazing leadership over the three programs, helping launch 36 new companies, of which 1 has been acquired, 2 have failed, and 33 have gone on to raise around $50m and employ over 200 people. The NY startup community has been awesome with engagement from over 75 mentors. And as the NY entrepreneurship scene has exploded during this time, it’s been fun to be part of it with both TechStars and our investments in companies such as MakerBot, Medialets, AdMeld (now Google), CrowdTap, Organic Motion, Jirafe, Next Big Sound (which was part of TechStars Boulder Summer 2009) and SideTour (which was part of the second TechStars Summer 2011 program).

Nicole Glaros is serving as Interim MD and will be based with Eugene in NYC during this year’s program. David Cohen will  be present as well, helping get Eugene up to speed. I”m also going to be spending a week at TechStars NY during the program from April 15 to April 19.

Eugene – welcome to TechStars. I’m psyched to have you as part of the team!

Cohen / Calacanis Interview on This Week In Startups

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A few weeks ago I did a long interview with Jason Calacanis on This Week In Startups. I got a bunch of positive feedback on it and thought it was one of the better long form interviews I’ve done in a while.

The other day Jason released an interview that he recently did with David Cohen, the CEO of TechStars. I listened to it earlier today – it was also excellent. I highly recommend it if you are interested in TechStars, accelerators, early stage investing, ramping your startup, and how David thinks about angel investing from his fund Bullet Time Ventures.

Venture Voice Interview with David Cohen on TechStars

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I’ve always enjoyed Greg Galant’s interviews on Venture Voice.  He interviewed me early on (Show #10) and the list of folks he has interviewed is dynamite.

Greg just interviewed David Cohen on TechStars.  The show notes give you a great outline of the interview content where David answers a lot of questions about TechStars, why it exists, how it works, and why you should care.

Don’t forget – TechStars applications are now open

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