Eamonn Carey

Managing Director at Techstars Connection

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON July 06, 2016

Discussion

eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
Hi, I'm Eamonn, the MD of Techstars Connection in partnership with AB InBev. Techstars is a global ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs build great businesses. Techstars Connection is a new program we're running in New York in partnership with the folks from AB InBev. I'm excited to be here today to answer your questions about how the vast Techstars network works, as well as anything to do with startups, product, venture, and more.
Kacey Wherley@kaceyraewherley · Marketing Manager, Techstars
What traits do you look for most in a startup team?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@kaceyraewherley great teams are key - it's always amazing to find great people whose skills complement one another, so that's a huge one. domain expertise helps - I love finding companies that tell me an origin story that basically describes them scratching an itch they felt in their professional or personal life. I love companies that have experimented and done a ton of a/b testing or customer discovery interviews to really help to nail their proposition. i also like teams who know how to keep me updated and how to manufacture a sense of urgency and excitement around what they're doing.
Marius Chawa@mariuschawa · UX Designer @ Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Hi Eamonn, i have 2 questions 1) what are the 2 biggest preqs you advice bootstrapping startups to have accomplished before approaching you for pre-seed funding? 2) how can they pitch to you?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@mariuschawa great question! 1) have a product or some version of what you're building so that I can look at it. This can be as simple as a clickable PDF or as complex as a fully fleshed out product, but have something to show me. If you need help building that stuff, I wrote a few tips on how to do it - http://mashable.com/2014/04/03/p... to your second question, I'm pretty easy to find on Twitter (same username as here) and elsewhere, so just feel free to reach out. Also my email address is firstname dot lastname at techstars dot com - simple!
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
If you had to pick a few pre-revenue startups to personally invest in via angel/seed round, which companies would you place your bets on right now?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@tomstocklein I'm a massive fan of what Viv are doing. I saw them demo at Pioneers in Vienna and was totally blown away. In terms of pre-revenue startups, I'm about to invest in at least a half dozen as part of the Techstars Connection program, so you can get a better read of the areas that excite me when we announce the teams!
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
What are some of your favorite apps that most folks may not have heard of?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@tomstocklein I'm a sucker for weather apps, so weather underground is great. I love Dark Sky. I've been messing around with Rex quite a bit recently, which I really like. Fast Like a Fox is a game I've been playing a lot of recently - it reminds me of the amazing button bashing games that I used to play on the Spectrum/Atari/Nintendo etc when I was a kid...
Elias Parisca@eaparisca · Founder and CEO at Anywr
Hi Eamonn, I'm Elias, CEO of Anywr. My Techstars Connection application is filled out and ready to go, we only need the team video. From the webinar, I see it's a very important part of the application. I'm wondering if you could share some insight into what you guys look for in the team video. Are you looking for specific information? Or are you looking for something creative and different? Thank you!
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@eaparisca my colleague Alex Iskold wrote a great piece about this - https://alexiskold.net/2014/09/1.... The team video is really crucial - that's the part where we maybe get to understand how your team fits together or get a feel for your personality. I've seen simple videos that have been screengrabs of Skype conversations that have worked. We've also had a few more Hollywood style productions that have been brilliant. In terms of tips, make sure you get across a little bit of your personality, make sure it's clear what everyone does. Aside from that, have fun. The ones that stand out are the ones where it's clear the company and the founders have a real rapport and real energy. Ultimately, we're investing in companies but also making a decision to hang out with them for 16 weeks on a pretty full time and full on way - so make sure that your team video makes us think that spending that time with you will be amazing for a wide variety of reasons.
Elias Parisca@eaparisca · Founder and CEO at Anywr
@eamonncarey this is excellent Eamonn, thank you!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Eamonn, what's one piece of advice that you find yourself consistently give to new founders?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@ems_hodge learn to tell your story. I get pitched a lot and even though I'm reasonably technical and have been in the industry for a long time, you'd be surprised how often I'm baffled by what they're trying to do. Storytelling and pitching is such a key part of what you do, that it's incredible how little attention people pay to it. Practice your pitch. Refine your story and make it easy for everyone to understand. That first two minutes is so crucial - if you're building something massively complex, we can get into the weeds in later conversations, but make me excited to have that later conversation first. Also, build things. I meet a lot of people who haven't put together wireframes, mockups or prototypes. It's so super simple to do that stuff that I find it bizarre that people don't do it more often. Customer development and conversations are important, and having something (even if it's only semi-tangible) is crucial to make those conversations count.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi! What have you found to be the best way to create an important network around you? Is there something that you would earlier in your life regarding that?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@theo_dimarhos hang out with great people. say yes to things as much as you can in your early career. I've made so many friends and met so many amazing people by going and speaking at events or going to meetups. Never be afraid to get in touch with someone and ask to meet them for a coffee. You'd be amazed at how easy it is to get really smart, influential people to give you fifteen minutes. Be open - get involved in events and things around your community. If you want an amazing way to build your network, go to a Startup Weekend. You'll meet some incredible people. Go to events that are on near you. Talk to people. Keep talking to the ones that you find inspirational. Send short emails to people you're not connected to but want to meet and ask them for 10 mins. You'll find that building a network is a) good fun and b) easier than you think. Do not send 'i'd like to add you to my professional network....' messages on LinkedIn - that's a surefire way to not succeed or engage with people.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
@eamonncarey Thanks, this was a great answer. I appreciate it.
Pablo Quiroga@pabloiquiroga · CEO, Fuelixir
Hi Eamonn, what do you value most from being able to expose yourself to international experiences? What are some differences and/or similarities in early stage company cultures around the world?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@pabloiquiroga one of the best parts of my job is getting to meet companies and interesting folks from around the world. I get to learn about opportunities, markets and cultures that are hugely different. I think entrepreneurs around the world are all massively passionate and eager in my experience. I think the biggest differences are around tactics and execution. Some parts of the world are much better at just doing things and running tons of experiments. Others think a little bit more before acting.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Hi Eamonn, Thanks for doing this ProductHunt AMA! What was the main motivation for TechStars to partner with a multinational beverage company?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@tomstocklein AB InBev is an amazing partner for us to have. When you think about their business, you start to understand the massive scale and expertise they have in everything from retail to branding and right through to logistics and beyond. The experience that they have within the company will be invaluable to the founders on the Connection program and the access and potential partnerships that will open up during the program will be absolutely huge. That scale, expertise and potential was a huge part of that discussion and decision.
Ryan David Mullins@rdavidmullins
Hey Eamonn, do you think that we've entered a new era of "disruption", one that has evolved away from the dominant "low-end" model so beloved in Silicon Valley? Seems that, other than a few areas (Government, Health Care, Education, Automobiles), it's not really possible to disrupt incumbents as in the past. The Lean and Agile movements are, more often than not, employed by all big companies. Seems these big companies move as fast as we do. Or, they just acquire you and integrate into their ecosystem. TL;DR do you see a new disruptive trend afoot? Or, is "being disruptive" already an outdated value.
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@rdavidmullins I don't think the idea of being disruptive is going anywhere. I think the phrase is a bit overused, which is probably why people maybe see it as an outdated value. I think there's a ton of 'disruption' happening across lots of areas. I've been reading hundreds of applications for the Techstars Connection program, and I can assure you there are a lot of amazing companies working to fundamentally change industries. In some cases they're funded. In some, they're super lean and agile - there's a real mix. In terms of big companies moving fast - that's true in some cases, but there are also legacy issues that a lot of big companies have that can hamper their ability to test things, figure out quick wins and acquire users etc - so the opportunity for startups in Government, health, education, automotive, bevtech and elsewhere is still enormous.
Harry Raymond@harryraymond · Building Smalltalk, Product Hunt NYC
Thanks for doing this Eamonn! Do you think the beer, wine and liquor industry has been slow to adopt new technology? Why or why not?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@harryraymond Thanks Harry! I think in some cases, the answer is yes. Some businesses and business units operate in heavily regulated markets, and that can make things tricky, which has probably been one barrier. I think in some cases, there are legacy issues and potentially some distrust of new tech. To give you an example, I talked to a friend of mine who runs a successful winery. He was trying to get some of the folks there to implement some IoT solutions and test out new tech to help with the winemaking process. To him, it felt like trying to play pool with cooked spaghetti - there was just total institutional distrust of tech. That's changing though - I think people are a) starting to see better and better tech solutions coming out b) see companies that have been founded by people who've worked in the industry and are scratching an itch they felt themselves and c) the business benefits are becoming clearer. With that said, I think a lot of the players in the liquor industry have been adopting new technologies for years - they maybe just don't talk about it quite as much for a variety of reasons. I think that's starting to change, and hopefully with this Techstars Connection program in partnership with AB InBev, we can help accelerate some of that change and some of those businesses that will really have an impact on the companies they work with.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
How do the different TechStars locations differ in terms of talent, space they are tackling, etc?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@bentossell different programs have different focuses - so the corporate partnership programs we run are typically vertically focused - Barclays are heavily focused on Fintech, Target on retail tech and so on. The city programs (London, Berlin, NYC, Boston, Austin and many others - http://www.techstars.com/programs/) have a much more horizontal focus, so they can take in a wide range of companies. The programs are quite similar in terms of how the three months works - obviously each individual MD runs things their own way, but there is a lot of commonality.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
If you had to be a Tech CEO/Founder for a week, who would it be and why?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@bentossell tough question! It would be hugely interesting to be Evan Spiegal right now - just to see how Snapchat is changing and growing. I'm a huge fan of products that have some level of whimsy or mischief baked into them, and I think they're definitely one of those companies, so it would be cool to see how that moves the needle in terms of users/growth etc etc. They're making a lot of smart moves right now, so it would be cool to see inside the company and get a view on their roadmap etc etc - also they're building something that's touching so many users, which is always fun.
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · Words @ProductHunt & @AngelList
Is there any particular YouTube video, book, or podcast you recommend to founders as a must watch/read/listen to with advice for startups?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@nivo0o0 too many to mention. Ben Horowitz's 'Hard thing about hard things' book is amazing. A must read. Everyone should read 'Venture Deals' by Brad Feld. Hooked by Nir Eyal is incredible. Without their permission by Alexis Ohanian is great. Keep an eye on my upvotes/submissions on Product Hunt to get an idea of others. In terms of podcasts, Andreessens is brilliant. The Information's podcast is superb. Exponent is definitely a must listen. There are tons of other recommendations in here - https://tydanco.com/2016/01/25/e... Top tip - listen to podcasts at 1.5x or 2x speed. There are so many to get through and not enough hours in the day. Also, I've found that listening at a slightly faster speed forces me to listen a little more carefully. Bonus, people sound way funnier when they're slightly sped up...
Marius Chawa@mariuschawa · UX Designer @ Hewlett Packard Enterprise
I'm currently in Atlanta.. I'm curious to know your thoughts on Location? do you believe it matters.. should founders move to locations like SF, NYC, Boston where there's more funding, startup ecosystem
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@mariuschawa short answer is yes, but... Longer answer is yes, but that it depends a lot on what you're doing. I know a lot of great companies who have the majority of their team in locations far away from London, NYC, Boston etc etc - but they do have some level of senior representation there. It's important to have a presence in big markets. It's easier to meet investors. Early stage VCs and angels typically like investing in their own back yard - it makes it easier to get to board meetings and have face time with their companies more regularly. Bigger cities also draw in more talent, but that brings increased salaries and expectations to the table. Some bigger cities give you more ready access to your potential customers/users, but by the same token, you might have just as much access if not better access in Atlanta. I would certainly see there being strong merit in having a presence in a major hub - but think carefully about whether or not you want to base your entire team there.
Raed Marouf@r_marouf · Data Analyst, Elm
Hello Eamonn & thnx for being here! My question is: should we, entrepreneurs and startups in Saudi, expect Techstars to start anything locally?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@r_marouf hi Raed! Thanks. I've actually spent some time in Saudi - I did some talks at a Mobily Developer conference in Riyadh a while ago and looked at investing in a Saudi business about two years ago. I think it's a really interesting market - lots of phones, lots of people and not a lot of apps that are properly localised for the Arabic speaking market. One of my portfolio companies is actually looking at launching their soon. With regards to Techstars in Saudi, we've run multiple Startup Weekend events there (more here - http://www.startupweekend.sa/) and we've got another one coming up in just over a month.
Will Martin@willpmartin · founder liveduel
Hi Eamonn, I've heard other Techstars MDs say that they evaluate teams based on Team, Team, Market and Idea. Do you follow this philosophy and do AB InBev share similar values?
eamonncarey@eamonncarey · Early stage investor.
@willpmartin team, team, team, market, traction idea. we all view the world in a pretty similar way and I'm no different. For me, the team is *the* most important thing in an early stage company. The mix of skills, personality, how long the team have known each other etc etc - that's all crucial. Lots of the companies going through Techstars end up pivoting - in a small way or in very radical ways, so we try to make sure that we back the right type of team that can go through a pivot and keep executing. Our partners at AB InBev are aligned with us on that one as well - the team is really paramount.