Nicole Glaros
cody
Alex Iskold

Nicole Glaros, Cody Simms & Alex Iskold

Techstars

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 27, 2015

Discussion

Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
Hi All, Nicole, Alex and Cody here from Techstars. Techstars is a global ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs build great businesses. We're 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. Fire away!
Corley
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
Hey all - thanks for joining today! What is something counterintuitive you've observed / learned as part of working with so many startups?
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@corleyh for me the counter-intuitive thing about working with so many startups is that you often hear there are only so many ideas out there...but i'm always amazed by how many new ideas I hear about every day. The thing that separates the magic from everyone else is the team. A mediocre team can take a great idea and make it a problematic company. A great team can take a mediocre idea and make it great.
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
So, you're stranded on a desert island and you can only choose one Techstars-incubated product to take with you. Which one is it?
Eric Leebow
Eric Leebow@ericleebow · Founder and CEO
@rrhoover Sphero
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@rrhoover Homemade, from the latest Techstars NYC class. www.gethomemade.co Not sure how they will be able to deliver delicious home made food to a desert island, but since this is a hypothetical question ;)
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
Holy cow, lots of questions already!
Jarod Stewart
Jarod Stewart@stewartjarod · Sr. Software Engineer, Yonomi
@nglaros and lots of great answers already! :D
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@nglaros Luckily we do more faster.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hey everyone! Thanks for joining today :) What is the best thing about working at Techstars?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@ems_hodge The best thing for me is to be able to help amazing founders build solid, lasting companies.
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@ems_hodge the biggest part of my job everyday and the job of just about everyone at Techstars is to just be helpful to entrepreneurs. it's awesome.
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hey, Nicole, Cody, and Alex! What's the biggest misconception about Techstars?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@rrhoover Hi Ryan. ;-) Probably that "you're too far along" for Techstars. Because we are not a curriculum driven program, rather a mentorship driven program, the things we focus on during the program adapt and change to the needs and stage of each company. Our goal is to drive huge value to each company, regardless of the stage. And we have a healthy distrubution of companies at various stages within each program. From the expected idea phase, all the way up to raised over $10M in funding, selling hundreds of thousands of units. Our model adapts to each company. ;-)
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
How do ya'll position yourself relative to YC? Why should a founder choose ya'll instead?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@eriktorenberg I think YC is an amazing program and is excellent for startups in the valley that a) don't want to move and b) don't need anything else other than a microphone. Techstars is pretty great at developing not only the startup, but the founders as well. We have a saying here - #TechstarsForLife - meaning we want to support you not only in this business, but the next one, and the one after that. So if you're looking to build a billion dollar company, and want people that have your back for the rest of you're life - we're a pretty good option.
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
YC has announced plans recently to evolve their model and footprint. What big opportunities do you see for the evolution of accelerators generally? Do you anticipate groups moving upstream of accelerators? Incubating and developing talent as maybe an alternative to college? Do you anticipate alternative programs where people are directly funded, rather than startups?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@alexcartaz I think most accelerators only address one general time period in the life of a company, and there are still many time periods to address. We think about the whole entrepreneurial journey, and how to address needs from idea (hence the UpGlobal acquisition) to IPO. And I LOVE the notion of supporting people, rather than just startups. Most companies die b/c of founder and people issues, so working that out would be a huge advantage. There is still a ton of room for innovation here... we're just scratching the surface on how to help people and companies be more successful.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What are 3 top qualities you look for when assessing TechStars submissions?
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@bentossell TEAM! At Techstars the three most important qualities are all team. It's about half of what matters to us. Does the team have good chemistry together? Do they have the right skillsets for the problem they care about? And most importantly, do they seem to have the amazing attitude they'll need to knock down all of the walls and hurdles that get in their way as they face so many unforeseen challenges along the journey. Startups are hard. The team needs to be amazing. Beyond team, we look at market, progress, and the idea/product itself.
Adam Corey
Adam Corey@frumpy
@codysimms what does it take for you to get confidence that the team is right? Founder interactions during meetings? References from prior employers or investors? Customer feedback? Hearing the passion in how they discuss their biz? It's a qualitative measure and thus hard to know for sure. Any tips?
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@frumpy @bentossell yeah it is in fact mostly qualitative. we do our best to have numerous interactions with our top candidates during the application review process. Each Techstars program handles it a little differently but typically there isn't one single do or die interview for Techstars...rather it's a handful of small interactions over a multiple week period where the MD and team are getting to know the founders and learn about who they are, what drives them, how they relate to one another, and how well the respond to feedback.
Phillip Yang
Phillip Yang@geekyyang
Hi guys. Thanks so much for doing this. What are your thoughts on a non-technical founder? If they have the ability to lead, drive their vision, and have formulated a strong team - would that account for their lack of technical aspects? Thanks!
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@geeky_yang Hey, so there is a misconception about this. The conversation is not about non-technical founders but rather about ability to execute on the business and make progress. As an example, a restauranteur isn't technical but can create a business. Or another example, more relevant, neither founder at Plated, a Techstars company, is technical, but they have the skills to execute the business. So really the question is -- are you the right person to start and execute on the specific business. It is not just about the business idea, but rather about business execution.
Phillip Yang
Phillip Yang@geekyyang
@alexiskold @geeky_yang Thanks! Great insight!
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What are some of the biggest things you're grappling with right now?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@eriktorenberg How to manage the 200+ unread emails in my inbox. No really, i struggle with this. 90% of emails are total crap, but filtering, prioritizing tools don't reduce the number of emails, they just sort them for you. How do we train people when to send emails, how to send them, etc. If we reduce the # of bad emails people send, that would be pretty cool. That, and taxes. I f'ing hate filing taxes.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
If you were going to start a company right now what would you start?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@eriktorenberg I wouldn't, because my wife said that would be the end of our marriage.
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
@nglaros you mentioned giving the education system a kick in the ass- where would you start?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@katesegrin I'd probably start from the ground up. Let's think about how people learn, understand best practices in other parts of the world, design programs around that, then spend half the money on lobbists to get the government's head out of their collective asses.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
HUGE thank you to our friends Alex, Nicole, Cody for taking the time to chat with us today, for all the support they've given us, and for all they do for the entrepreneurial community.
Wen Wilson
Wen Wilson@acreerph · CEO & FOUNDER , HEALTHCITE
@nglaros . As a new healthcare startup and contemplating applying to the Sprint Techstars Accelerator program in Kansas for 2016, what would be your advice for marketing to users or customers? (The chicken and egg problem).My customers will be the healthcare provider and their patients will be the users.
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@acreerph That's such a generic question that I'm not sure how to answer it. Customer development is a MASSIVE part of making sure your startup is succesful. Get in front of your customers now, do whatever you have to do. This will lay the groundwork for how you market in the future. Maybe ask other companies that have similar markets to you, what they do to get in front of customers?
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@nglaros What's the biggest mistake that people make when starting off a new business?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@russfrushtick they don't do enough customer development. Or said another way, they come up with an idea, then try to find a market for it. That's all wrong. Build your team, then come up with a market that you're excited about, then go out into the market and find a problem that people are willing to solve, THEN start to build a solution.
Edwin Espinosa
Edwin Espinosa@edwinespinosa09 · Angularjobs
@nglaros when you receive requests for advice, from founders, is there a quality score you personally use to decide whether to offer advice? The best advice I've been given is to research what issues/topics people are interested in and if your request for advice falls into that category then it makes sense to reach out. Thoughts?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@edwinespinosa09 Hi Edwin. I actually try to offer guidance whenever asked, but the more the questions tap into my areas of expertise, the more value-add my guidance can be. So figure out what you need help with SPECIFICALLY, then find people who are experts in that, before reaching out. That will ensure the time spent is most valuable
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What are your favourite things about working at Techstars? Highs and Lows :)
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@bentossell Love working with founders. The whole program is an incredible experience. A low is when companies graduate. We stay in touch a lot but still miss having founders around in the space.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
How do you tackle time-constraints... understandably each founder thinks they have a great business and are passionate (hopefully) so want lots of advice but you have to spread your time across so many people in the same situation...how do you aim to keep your time commitments relatively equal so no one is favoured/ignored?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@bentossell We have a system for this. First we do 30 mins 1-1 with every company every week. We then do open office hours in 20, 40 or 60 mins increments and as founders need more of our time, they can book us. We are pretty organized and follow this kind of calendaring: http://alexiskold.net/2014/03/31...
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@nglaros - What was the "aha moment!" that took your from getting your Masters in Sport Psychology to fully immersing yourself in the tech world? P.S. Go Gators!
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@andrewmettinger I love this question. Market, pricing, product, that stuff isn't the hard stuff. The hard stuff is the people part. In fact, 65% of startups fail due to people issues (says Noam Wasserman from Harvard). Learning how to deal with the people issues, helping them communicate, get out of their own way, be intellectually honest and not ontologically arrogant... that's the hard part. Fostering unwavering trust and honesty in an organization is, in my opinion, paramount, and that ain't easy.
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello All! I have been following up all the startups from Techstars. At what stage do you like to consider startups? What are few of best attributes that strike out to you for sucessful entrepreneurs? Favorite blogs each startup should refer to?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@neeeharika You are never too far along for Techstars. Read this post by David Cohen: http://www.techstars.com/youre-n... for resources, I have a collection of articles on all topics here: delicious.com/alexiskold
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What space do you think is overlooked in the tech world?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@bentossell Government software. Police / Fire departments. Traditionally a slow sell, but the tide might be turning. Check out http://www.spidrtech.com in the latest NYC class for example.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Do you think a remote-accelerator could work?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@bentossell Hi Ben. I think it could work, but would be tricky. IMHO one of the biggest value adds of Techstars is the relationships that are developed between the founders of the companies. When done right, it becomes their strongest network that persists for a lifetime. That's hard to replicate remotely. You can do it remotely, but are limited to focusing only on elements of the business (so think education), rather than relationships. Also, one thing I've learned, is that founders learn by doing, not by listening.... so having hands-on, real-time support is pretty critical.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Which product in the TS Venture Fund or that have gone through the accelerator do you wish everyone on Product Hunt knew about?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@andrewmettinger All of them. :-) Really, there aren't that many, but @consipre is pretty cool. So is @SmartVisionLabs. And @Pana. And there's a new one that we're about to announce that is FUCKING (can I say that here?) BALLER. The fun part about VC is you get to invest in things you love to brag about. :-) The bad part about VC is you have to say no to a lot of cool things.
Sarah Jane Coffey
Sarah Jane Coffey@savvysarahjane · Reboot.io
Hey Nicole, What's it like having it all? Just kidding. Please don't answer that question. Ever. In all seriousness, all three of you are parents. It can be hard to feel like you can be both a successful entrepreneur/team member/professional and a participating parent at the same time. What is something you've found that helps you navigate wearing both hats?
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@savvysarahjane Hi Sarah Jane! yeah, it's really hard. it's incredibly important to carve out time for the family...for me, breakfast and dinner are super important. We've recently started putting phones away during evening time at home and then i'll hop back on calls or emails as needed after kid bedtime. And then weekends are important. Make special time to do special things with the kids on the weekend. Prioritize getting to school activities. Just like everything else with a startup, it's a matter of priorities. Make sure this one is very high on the list.
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@savvysarahjane Own your schedule, don' t let your schedule own you. My exec coach had me do an exercise where I mapped out my ideal work day. I blocked time for email, meetings, exercise, priority 1 projects, and thinking time. I'm in the office by 9. I leave by 5:30 or 6. And for the first time in probably 5+ years, I feel somewhat in control of my life, which means when I go home, I'm more present, happy, and relaxed with my kids. Also, sleep helps.... ;-)
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into advising startups? Other than starting a startup ;)
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@bentossell Develop specific expertise. General advising isn't really a thing. Whats your forte - marketing? biz dev? design? Pick something and be great at it.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What's something you used to fervently believe that you now see as misguided?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@eriktorenberg I used to think that everything is always solvable and that rational people can always reach consensus. Ah... the things I believed when I was 24 :) Wiser now (I hope :)
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@nglaros - What kind of future for tech do you see in Boulder? It's not a traditional tech hub, so what do you find promising? Any particular industries?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@andrewmettinger You're right, Boulder is a melting pot. I think enterprise SaaS companies do pretty well here, and a growing number of consumer plays. Through my own travels, one thing I notice is that Boulder is a great place for founders wanting to avoid burnout. Companies work their asses off here, but they play hard too - that leads to a more balanced and enjoyable life. I think that's the future of startups - how to make this a lifelong journey, rather than only in your twenties...
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What are your favorite books and why?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@eriktorenberg Complexity by Mitchell Waldrop and Godel Escher Bach by Douglas Hofstadter -- transformed the way I think about the world. Anything by Haruki Murakami but particularly Wind up bird chronicle -- he is my favorite writer.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
If you were us asking you questions, what would you ask??
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@eriktorenberg What does it take to create an awesome startup? What does it take to get into Techstars?
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
What have been each of your proudest career moments to date?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@ems_hodge I am pretty proud of all the companies and all demo days here at Techstars. Created and run two companies, sold first one to IBM, so that was awesome too.
Daniel Nelson
Daniel Nelson@daniel_b_nelson · Founder/CEO Tursus
Hi Nicole, Alex and Cody! I'm a solo tech founder that's brought a product to market. I'm a solo founder more by circumstance than choice, just haven't found the right person/people to join as cofounder. (I'm always looking and talking to potential cofounders) While I know solo founders tend to not get into Techstars, do you think there's a chance I could get in knowing the chances of finding that right cofounder would greatly increase given the vast Techstars community? Has this ever happened before? Thanks in advance! :)
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@daniel_b_nelson one of the most important thing about startups is that there really are no rules! so while it's true that it's harder to get into Techstars as a solo founder, it's not impossible (we have had solo founders in programs previously). But we've noticed that it's much much harder to get the most out of a program like Techstars as a solo founder. You are doing so much for your business while in the program -- meeting awesome mentors, building product, doing everything you can to grow your numbers, learning -- it's just hard to do all of that by yourself while also running your biz. And on top of that, you miss the shared experience of having someone to relate to while you do it. But again, startups have no rules so it's not impossible. Just a lot harder.
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
What kind of technology or vertical is Techstars most excited about?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@neeeharika Hard to speak broadly, each program and each managing director is different. I am personally very excited about VR and AI right now.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What is the most common failure you see/hear about?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@jacqvon Founders' issues probably most common. Lack of Product Market Fit / Traction is another one.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
If you were running Product Hunt what would you be focusing on and what direction would you take? p.s. Ryan can be PM in this scenario 😉
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@bentossell Would probably expand into other verticals like Movies, Music, etc. Had a bit of this experience with GetGlue, my previous startup. The challenge is monetization. In the current state this is ad play, but needs to have massive pageviews. If they can crack subscription, can stay more niche, but still need to get to millions of paying customers per month. Regardless, I would pick company direction backwards from what makes money. @rrhoover -- call me ;)
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@alexiskold @bentossell i think the community they are building at producthunt is world class and incredibly powerful. Keep building things the community wants!
Eric Leebow
Eric Leebow@ericleebow · Founder and CEO
Are there any technology categories that Techstars typically avoids accepting startups in because the industry is oversaturated or there are too many companies trying to do something similar?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@ericleebow Mobile social local event-discovery startups. If I had to guess, I'd say 10% of all applications look like this. Yes, it's a problem. Yes, someone will figure it out. But probably not with me.
Eric Leebow
Eric Leebow@ericleebow · Founder and CEO
@nglaros What should we do if we have a Mobile social local event-discovery startup? I applied to Techstars multiple times. It seems as though you're never trying to dissuade a founder from applying again, as you mention in your rejection to apply again.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What is the craziest thing you've seen in a pitch?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@bentossell Actually the craziest thing is 1 min pitch without explaining what the company actually does.
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
What is an "Aha" moment you've had in your career?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@katesegrin Believe in yourself. Go to where you want to go, not where wind is blowing.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What is one thing you wholeheartedly disagree with that people seem to hyped about?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@bentossell Sharing economy. It is a myth imo. What it is actually is utility and money saving economy. People aren't compelled to share, they are compelled to save.
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@bentossell Cry-it-out for sleep training (if you have a newborn you know what I mean). Being proud of working 80 hour work weeks. Guns kill people (instead of people killing people). Shit, did I just start a political battle on Product Hunt?
Andreas Klinger
Andreas Klinger@andreasklinger · Tech at Product Hunt 💃
One question i love to ask every VC - and almost all of them try to avoid answering it - so feel free to just pass :) What deal that got away is the one you regret the most? (rejecting or simply not being fast enough)
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@andreasklinger No big ones for me yet, as I've only been doing this for 2 years. But I am sure there will be some soon ;)
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@andreasklinger I can answer this one. Canary. Tinder. :-)
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
You get given $1Billion - you can either start a startup of your choice, doing whatever... OR you can continue to advise - what would you do?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@bentossell Invest in renewable energy and making the planet better. Pull Elon Musk.
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@bentossell if someone is handing out billion dollar bills (do they make those?) i think i'd tell them to give it to charity!
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@bentossell Definitely a startup. Since Alex is covering energy, I'd probably do food. Or something around education. Want to move the needle? Try giving our education system a kick in the ass.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Are there too many accelerators out there in the world?
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@eriktorenberg i think like any ecosystem, the early stage startup ecosystem continues to evolve. When it comes to accelerators, I think great ones will thrive and not so great ones will struggle. New ones will continue to emerge -- some of them will become great, some of them will be ok, some will not. Some will find really unique advantages that make them awesome for founders.
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@eriktorenberg Probably, in the US. But we're seeing accelerators go to a more vertical focus (which is good), and expand globally (which is good, as long as it's done with quality). Generally I think accelerators are a fantastic service to entrepreneurs, but we've all heard stories of programs that don't know what they're doing, which ends up hurting companies. Best thing for founders is to do your homework on the accelerator and specifically the managing director running the accelerator.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
So much has been great - What's a major initiative that has NOT worked for you in the past 2 years?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@eriktorenberg Major initiative? none, probably. We do lots of little experiments before we turn it into a major initiative. If something doesn't work on a small scale, it probably won't work on a large scale. so we've killed lots of little things, but nothing big.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
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Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What questions should people ask before joining a startup?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@bentossell What is the big vision here? How is the company capitalized? What is my personal opportunity? How much of the company will I own? What is my best case outcome here?
Eric Leebow
Eric Leebow@ericleebow · Founder and CEO
@alexiskold Why should a later employee be given ownership in a startup when they aren't taking on any risk or providing any capital? How many employees did you actually give equity to at GetGlue?
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Will you do more Brand-partnered accelerators?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@eriktorenberg probably. ;-)
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@eriktorenberg we've had great success with some of our vertical accelerator programs. A few examples include Barclarys Accelerator (which is now in London and NYC and recently expanded to Tel Aviv and Cape Town) and Disney Accelerator in Los Angeles (which I what I work on mostly). Programs like these provide founders with incredibly unique access, relationships, and opportunities. I certainly expect we will see more of them. In the last few weeks we've announced the Techstars Retail accelerator in partnership with Target in Minneapolis and the Techstars Healthcare accelerator in partnership with Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles.
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
Hey everyone, this was pretty fun! Feel free to email me anytime at nicole@techstars.com
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
@nglaros Thanks so much! It was great!
Yoshi
Yoshi@dnxx28 · Freerance Engineer
Hi Nicole, Alex,Cody!! I'm Japanese Yoshi. I wanna know about FaithStreet recently and is it growing now? I thought I wanna do like FaithStreet or OnFaith in Japan. Many shrines or churches in japan so I like FaithStreet !!
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@dreadnoughtxx Sure. Seems like a great idea ;)
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@dreadnoughtxx The founders of Faithstreet are pretty awesome, just reach out to them.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
Hello all! What's something that you've changed your mind about within the last year?
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@jakecrump i was of the opinion that there are only so many good startups out there...but i'm increasingly starting to believe that the amount of educational resources available to startups, the number of entrepreneurs who do it again and again and again, and the increasing pervasiveness of technology in our lives means that the well of great interesting startups is only getting bigger and bigger.
Dominic DiMarco
Dominic DiMarco@dominicdimarco · CEO - MobileIgniter
@nglaros How did you get to be so awesome :)? I'll be visiting Breck 12/27-1/16 if you hit the slopes this winter.....
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@dominicdimarco DOMINIC......... flattery will get you.... everywhere!
Ray Antonino
Ray Antonino@raynino1
Hello All, does TS have any plans for a #Construction accelerator?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@raynino Hi Ray! I would love to answer that question directly, but then I'd have to kill you. HA! We have lots of plans, unfortunately I can't disclose any of them, but they're all pretty bad-ass. So stay tuned!
Wen Wilson
Wen Wilson@acreerph · CEO & FOUNDER , HEALTHCITE
Is a business plan necessary? What is your take? I have a 20 slide pitch deck and I'm hearing that is enough , whilst others say no you do need a business plan , especially for investors?
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@acreerph Hi Wen, your question is of course situational. But the one thing I do know is that your business plan is almost certainly wrong! Startups operate in too many unknowns for there to be a business plan that can be seen as an obvious plan (the way a bank may fund an entity in a more stable type of business environment.) Depends on the credentials of you and your team, how much you are trying to raise, and from whom. At Techstars, we don't typically look at business plans. And I'd say most seed investors we work with don't look at them either. We look at team, team, team as the primary decision input. We also take into consideration market (is this a big market or one that's seeing large shifts), progress (can you execute and show evidence of ability to find product/market fit), and finally idea/product (we want to love the product but more importantly we need to believe you will knock down walls to make it great). The more capital you seek to raise, the more likely you'll need to show numbers to raise it, but that's typically more a function of current traction than future business plan. I do think it helps to have a financial model of your business, so you can get a feel for what you think will happen and can track progress, but know that it's almost certainly wrong and adjust as you go!
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What is a typical work day like for each of you?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@jakecrump During the program: 1-1 meetings in AM, then time for todos and email, lunch. Office hours, more 1-1 with companies. Workshops and talks in the evening. Off program it really varies. Looking for companies, doing Techstars global stuff. Oh and I also do a bunch of blogging year round ;)
Danny Lowney
Danny Lowney@dannylowney · Growth ⛏@ Sup
@alexiskold @jakecrump Love this insight!
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@alexiskold @jakecrump +1 to Alex. The 1:1 time with companies while in program is critical and amazing.
Andreas Klinger
Andreas Klinger@andreasklinger · Tech at Product Hunt 💃
The backstory with TechStars and StartupBootcamp seems a bit confusing… Did you two use to be related in the beginning? I heard rumors that StartupBootcamp originally planned out to franchise partner of Techstars but then you just agreed on a license/partnership deal?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@andreasklinger Hi Andreas, Techstars open-sourced its model in the early days (actually still do via GAN.co), and StartupBootCamp was one of the first programs to leverage our model. I think what they've done is great, but we don't have a formal relationship today.
Adam Corey
Adam Corey@frumpy
Have you noticed a material difference between U.S.-based programs and international programs?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@frumpy Material difference? No. But definitely subtle differences, which IMHO is awesome. Each community has its own strengths, cultural norms, and traditions, which brings diversity of thought and approach. One of the great things about our model is that as we have offices in all those different locations (22 programs now!), we begin to understand how a startup needs to change, adapt, and even learn from, and leverage those local norms. Differences between communities is what makes us all stronger. :-)
Nicole, Alex, Cody - Rumor has it there's another 'arm' to TS - Minority Owned Startups? Truth? and, if so, please share 'where' I may find out more info? TY
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@rlsetzer Hi Rebecca. There isn't another arm, we're one big family. However we do support a number of initiatives that focus on underrepresented founders. First, there's the Techstars Foundation (foundation.techstars.com), then there's Patriot Boot Camp & Rising Stars. Startup Weekend also has a number of programs that focus on underrepresented founders, and we are doing a ton of work around diversity here at Techstars.
@nglaros - Thank you for clarity AND ALL YOU DO for Tech Community and those of us - certifiably crazy Entrepreneurs!
Felipe Barreiros
Felipe Barreiros@felipebarr · CEO, Bits
@nglaros We're building our startup on a B2B consulting/execution. My big thing is to deliver a new product in just 8 weeks. Although we've successfully break even, we're trying to find ways to make money while I sleep. Any thoughts?
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@felipebarr Make money while you sleep = the dream! :-) Consulting is lucrative but tough b/c you're limited to your working hours. Going the software route is pretty awesome. If you can figure out how to deploy something your customers will pay for on a recurring basis, you have magic.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What would the you of 2 years ago think of yourself today?
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@jakecrump holy sh..t dude, you've turned it around.
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@jakecrump nicole, go take a fucking vacation!
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
@jakecrump "Cody, you really should be a better surfer by now dude. Get out there more!"
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are the 3 resources that have most improved your life? (blogs, books, movies, advisors, etc)
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@jakecrump 1. Fred Wilson & Brad Feld's blogs 2. David Cohen's mentorship 3. Book: Complexity, Godel Escher Bach and Wind up bird chronicle.
Nicole Glaros
Nicole Glaros@nglaros · Chief Innovation Officer, Techstars
@jakecrump Executive coach. Clara (scheduling tool). My kids (is that a resource?)
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
Is there anything you absolutely need to get into your workflow? I need a cup of coffee and a good podcast to get going in the mornings.
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
@jakecrump Exercise. Can't do my job without regular exercise. Also, I quit drinking 2.5 years ago and never looked back.
Alex Iskold
Alex Iskold@alexiskold · Managing Director, Techstars NYC
Hey all thanks so much, we had a ton of fun!
cody
cody@codysimms · Executive Director, Techstars
Thanks everyone! This was awesome. cody at techstars dot com if I can be helpful!
Eric Leebow
Eric Leebow@ericleebow · Founder and CEO
That's all!
the doer
the doer@thedoerdoes · frontend developer, UX designer
What kinds of app are still missing for startups when you consider startup community as the end users? What kind of needs your society still have that could be tackled with software? When you look at your work, which part of your job can be more pleasant and efficient for each member of the community?