Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Where Are They Now? Featuring FullContact

Check out our newest “Where Are They Now?” video featuring Techstars Boulder 2011 alum, FullContact. FullContact provides cloud-based contact management solutions for businesses, developers and individuals. Learn more about their success post-Techstars and their “Paid paid vacation” policy, where they actually pay their employees to go off the grid!

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Seeker Spotlight: UKWIR – Steve Whipp

UKWIR Seeker Spotlight: Steve Whipp

 

The United Kingdom Water Industry Research (UKWIR) recently launched its first Challenge, Detecting the build-up of blockages in complex fluid networks. This $15,000 Ideation Challenge is seeking innovative solutions to stop blockages on the networks which can result in spillages from sewers that lead to troublesome property flooding and to contamination of waterways. We recently spoke with Steve Whipp, Project Manager at UKWIR, about the Challenge.

Hello Steve, thanks very much for speaking with us. For those not familiar with UKWIR, can you tell us a bit about your work?

UKWIR was set up by the UK water industry in 1993 to provide a framework for the procurement of a common research program for UK water operators on ‘one voice’ issues. UKWIR’s members comprise 21 water and sewerage undertakers in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What are your key objectives for this Challenge? Can you tell us more about the problems you’re addressing and the goals you’ve set for this Competition?

Sewerage networks were built starting over 100 years ago and have served us well. In the UK there are over 500,000 kilometers of pipes. Periodically we experience blockages on the network which can be due to a number of reasons. For example silt or fat deposits can build up and these cause the pipes to become partially or totally blocked. So next time it rains we can see flooding because the system is blocked. What we want to do is develop a system that can detect when blockages are starting to build up and then we can send in crews to make sure they are kept clear.

What was your primary motivation for crowdsourcing this Challenge to InnoCentive’s Solvers (as opposed to using more “traditional” means to solicit ideas and solutions)?

The UKWIR program group considers this as a key strategic challenge that has to be addressed. We typically work with consultants, suppliers and universities to carry out work but we’re not seeing new ideas that will address the problem. So we’ve decided to see whether an open innovation approach can provide some fresh thinking and suggest some new ideas that will lead to a solution.

What are some of the key attributes you’d like to see in a winning solution?

The main features of a solution would be that it can provide alarms to an operations center to advise when blockages are occurring. It will be a monitor that can be installed on existing networks probably at manholes. It should be able to reliably and accurately detect when blockages have built up to 50% of the pipe diameter. The system will be robust and capable of operating in sewer conditions and will be self-powered and capable of communicating into SCADA systems. Ideally the system will need little maintenance and should provide a cost effective solution to enable real time on-line monitoring.

Thank you for your time, Steve. Any final advice to Solvers as they tackle this exciting Challenge?

Just to say if you think you have something we should look at but are not sure about putting it forward please do so – we’d love to hear from you about your idea. There could be a massive market for any system and it’s all about providing excellent customer service in pre-empting problems before they occur.

Click here to view the UKWIR challenge.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Techstars vs. Y Combinator: From a Founder Who’s Been Through Both

The following post is written by Weiting Liu, Founder & CEO of Codementor, a live help marketplace for developers.  Weiting is a serial entrepreneur and an alumnus of both Y Combinator (YC ’07 SocialPicks, ’12) and Techstars (Seattle ’13 Codementor).

Make Something People Want and Do More Faster.

Being one of the rare founders to be both a Y Combinator and Techstars alum, I’ve had the privilege of going through two of the top accelerators in the world. Unlike YC and 500 Startups which seem to have more common overlaps, there have been very few founders who’ve gone through both YC and Techstars programs.

Over the years I’ve been asked countless times about what my experiences were like going through the programs, how helpful the networks were to my startups, and how I’d recommend fellow founders to choose which one to join.

I have the utmost respect for Paul Graham, Sam Altman, David Cohen, Brad Feld, all YC partners and Techstars directors. YC and Techstars are the two earliest accelerators ever created, yet they are now being run with very different visions and philosophies.

Depending on what your goals are, you might find one of them to be a better fit for you and your startup….

Read full post.

p.s. Techstars founder David Cohen is hosting an office hours on Codementor to answer your questions about Techstars and more. RSVP here.

 

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Seeker Spotlight: Brendan Cassidy

GeneralFusionGeneral Fusion has launched its first Challenge, “Method for Sealing Anvil Under Repetitive Impacts Against Molten Metal”, in partnership with Innocentive. The Theoretical Challenge seeks a new sealing method for a key component of General Fusion’s Magnetized Target Fusion energy system, offering a prize of $20,000 for a winning solution.

Hi Brendan, thanks for joining us today. To start, could you tell us a bit about General Fusion?

Simply put, General Fusion is developing commercial fusion energy. Founded in 2002 near Vancouver, Canada, our now-65-employee-company – mainly physicists and engineers – is supported by a world-class group of energy venture capital funds, industry leaders, and technology pioneers, such as Jeff Bezos. General Fusion is widely recognized as the global leader in Magnetized Target Fusion, which we believe to be the fastest, most practical and lowest cost path to commercial fusion energy.

What is fusion energy?

Fusion occurs when two hydrogen atoms are heated to extreme temperatures and “fuse” together, creating a helium atom and releasing energy. Fusion powers the sun, and all of the stars for that matter. Here on Earth, heat energy from fusion could be used to produce steam to drive electrical turbines or for industrial process heat.

And what would be the benefits of fusion energy over existing energy sources?

Fusion energy holds immense promise as a clean, safe and abundant energy source. Fusion generates neither pollution nor greenhouse gases. The process is inherently safe in that it can’t run away and produces no long-lived radioactive waste. The fuel is hydrogen –which we can easily extract from seawater and can derive from lithium, both of which are in abundant supply. There’s enough accessible fusion fuel to power the entire planet for hundreds of millions of years.

So how does it work?

Our Magnetized Target Fusion system is based on a sphere into which we pump molten lead-lithium in order to form a vortex – just like the one you see when you drain your bathtub. Once every second, magnetically-confined hydrogen plasma (hot, ionized gas) is injected into that vortex and an array of pistons – or hammers – simultaneously strikes the surface of the sphere, driving a pressure wave into the center of the sphere and compressing the plasma to fusion conditions.

What’s the origin of this first challenge from General Fusion?

The sphere itself isn’t one continuous shell, but rather it has holes all around the surface – one where each hammer strikes. Inside each hole is a cylindrical metal plug – we call them anvils – and the hammers strike the anvils, which move back and forth a few millimeters on each impact, transferring the energy into the molten lead-lithium. This challenge is seeking a new methodology for sealing our anvils into the sphere, while still allowing them to move. This is an engineering problem that we need to solve in order to turn our fusion technology into a commercial power plant.

What are you hoping to achieve with this Challenge and can you describe the impact of a successful solution?

We’ve been working with a simple graphite gasket seal which can survive a few dozen impacts before it deforms and needs to be replaced. This has been good enough for us to develop our core fusion technology by allowing us to build full-scale prototypes of the pistons and anvils and even a prototype sphere with fourteen of these assemblies (this device is shown in our challenge image) in order to study and optimize the collapsing vortex.

Now we’re looking for a sealing method that will survive impacts once a second for years at a time, or tens of millions of impacts per year. A successful solution to this challenge might not get us there right away – we’re asking for something that will take 1000 impacts – but it will allow us to build a full-scale system demonstrating our Magnetized Target Fusion approach and will hopefully even seed the development of a solution for a commercial power plant.

What was your motivation for crowdsourcing this Challenge?

General Fusion is a small company trying to solve a big problem. We’ve got quite a few talented, smart people here, but we know that there are many talented, smart people elsewhere. We want to tap into a large pool of knowledge spanning a broad variety of industries in order to find solutions that are creative, practical, or perhaps even already proven in other applications.

This is an example of a problem we believe we could solve ourselves, but doing so will take time and resources, and will probably involve us learning the hard way what won’t work. We think there may be solvers out there who have already worked on similar problems and who have already learned these lessons, or maybe there’s someone who will come up with a really clever idea.

What other benefits do you predict from crowdsourcing?

We’re always looking for ways to go faster. Crowdsourcing this challenge could lead us to a solution faster and more cost effectively than working on it internally would. It will also allow us to focus on the other key technical challenges, like plasma physics, in order to progress our fusion technology.

What are the key attributes you’d like to see (or not see) in a winning solution?

The big constraints on this problem are the environmental factors (high temperatures and extreme pressures), the repetitive impacts, and the need to allow the anvil to move. We’re keen to see what kind of creative solutions solvers come up with to address all of these constraints at once.

Any final words of encouragement for our Solvers?

This is an opportunity for anyone to contribute to our mission of changing the world with abundant, clean, safe and affordable energy.  Fusion is hard, and we appreciate your help!

The path to fusion requires many difficult problems to be solved, so we’ve already got a few other challenges in the works that will span a variety of fields, from engineering and materials science, to physics and to computing. So if you don’t win this challenge, or if it’s outside of your area of expertise, keep your sharpened pencils at the ready!

 

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Monday, April 27, 2015

The Techstars Experience: SpotHero’s Story

At Techstars, we’re often asked what it’s like to go through our program. Founders want to know how our accelerator program is different than others – what makes it better?

This is the second post in our new blog series called “The Techstars Experience” with some thoughts (originally posted on Medium) from Mark Lawrence, Co-Founder and CEO of SpotHero, a mobile on-demand parking app and website that helps drivers find parking and reserve a spot.  Mark and his co-founders, Jeremy Smith and Lawrence Kiss, completed the Techstars Chicago program in 2012.

Here are some highlights from Mark’s post, which as he describes as, “a retrospective on the 7 reasons why joining Techstars was one of the most important decisions of my life.”

[re: time to market]

“Techstars showed us that speed is the greatest asset a startup has. We learned how other successful companies bring products to market in a short amount of time. This reinforced that the sense of urgency and the ability to move fast and change quickly is what can allow a small company to seize an opportunity like no other.”

[re: Mentorship]

“Mentorship might seem like an obvious part of an accelerator, but we were surprised by how many incredibly talented mentors we had access to during the program. From the founders of OpenTable, GrubHub and CDW to the CEOs of publicly traded companies, we spent time learning from some of the most successful people in the world. We met with about 100 mentors 1:1 so we could really get to know them better, pick their brains and learn from their experiences. Whether it was entrepreneurs, marketers, salespeople or lawyers, each one forced us to start thinking about how these different specialities come together to form a profitable business. We developed strong relationships and suddenly we had people, besides our families, who were invested in our success.”

[re: Raising Capital]

“Techstars helped us understand the ins and outs of bootstrapping, raising seed capital from angels, going the institutional route and courting VCs from around the world. We became smarter at raising capital by learning which types of investors seek certain types of deals, how they approached the process and what they need to hear from you. In addition to helping us better understand the investment process, Techstars provided us with the opportunity to pitch to our company to a wide range of investors, including some of the biggest VCs in the country and we gained great exposure.”

[re: Working with Techstars]

“Through participation in Techstars, I’ve grown as an entrepreneur and learned invaluable lessons about growing a business, fundraising and thinking bigger.”

“Three years, three offices, 12 cities, 30+ employees and $7 million in funding later, I am incredibly grateful for all that Techstars has done for SpotHero.”

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read Mark’s original post here.

Want to apply to Techstars? You still have time! Applications for Chicago, London, and Seattle close at midnight this Thursday, April 30. Barclays NYC applications close on Tuesday, May 12.

(Are you a founder with a story to tell? Contact us at info@techstars.com and tell us about your Techstars Experience!)

 

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Startup Fundraising 101: A How To Guide

You have your hands on an awesome product and you’re gearing up to launch your business, but you need seed funding to get it fully off the ground. What type of funding is available for your startup, and how can you access it?

We’ve partnered with the folks at the General Assembly to break down the different types of funding available, starting from early-stage options to growth-stage options, and go over the pros and cons of each one.

What is bootstrapping? What is an angel round? What are accelerators? What is venture capital?

Navigate fundraising options with ease. Get the Guide and Get Growing.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

The Trial & Error Prize (CPN Challenge)

TrialAndErrorThomas Edison’s attitude encapsulates the spirit of the Trial & Error Prize.  After trying two thousand different materials in search of a filament for the light bulb, his assistant complained, “All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing.” Edison replied very confidently, “Oh, we have come a long way and we have learned a lot. We know that there are two thousand elements which we cannot use to make a good light bulb.”

Too often – not just in scientific studies – but in society as a whole, when experiments or projects do not go according to plan, we treat them as failures rather than lessons that we can learn from. The current research community therefore tends to only publish scientific studies with ‘significant’ results and ignores studies that seem uneventful. Nevertheless, we can learn as much from ‘negative’ results as we can from ‘positive’ ones.

Lessons learned from research help to minimize the duplication of experiments and narrow down pathways of innovation. They may also lead to the generation of novel ideas to tackle the same problem. The goal of the Trial & Error Prize is therefore to foster the publication of research in an easily accessible format, which scientists would have been hesitant to reveal in normal circumstances. This will help make spinal cord injury (SCI) research more time and cost effective.

This Prize is a first for InnoCentive in that the top applications will be decided using a crowdvoting open review system on ResearchGate where applicants will upload their work. This will not only ensure a more democratic judging process but it should also act as a hotbed for improved information-sharing and collaboration, as researchers will be able to review and comment on each other’s work, and therefore learn from one another.

This Prize is also part of the ground-breaking CPN Challenge Program which will give up to $10 million in prizes and grants over the next 10 years for those who can provide significant improvements in the quality of life of people living with spinal cord injury.  To build and maintain a thriving SCI research community, this Prize will run throughout the course of the Challenge Program. There is $3,000 available every quarter with the first ranked article receiving $1,500, the second $1,000 and the third $500.

The deadline for our first round of applications is 1st June 2015. For more information and details about how you can enter the Prize, please click here. If you have any queries please email trialanderror@conquerparalysisnow.org

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Techstars Experience: One Founder’s Story

At Techstars, we’re often asked what it’s like to go through our program. Founders want to know how our accelerator program is different than others – what makes it better?

Today we are kicking off a new blog series called The Techstars Experience with some thoughts (originally posted on Medium) from Dane Lyons, Co-Founder and CTO of Knowtify.io, an Engagement Marketing platform that helps software businesses easily and effectively market to their existing customer base. Dane and his team recently completed Techstars Cloud program in San Antonio.

Here are some highlights from Dane’s post:

[re: Techstars the company]

You could define Techstars as an accelerator for early stage startups. In reality, it’s a lot more than that. Techstars is a family of incredible people who understand more than the Xs and Os of starting a company…

[re: The Application Process]

Techstars was far and away a better experience. I’m obviously biased in my assessment but the biggest difference for me was transparency. To kick things off, I had a face to face meeting with Blake Yeager, the 2015 Cloud Managing Director, before ever submitting our application. From there, he made himself available by email and Google Hangout for the next few weeks in case we had any questions. That alone made it a better experience… The vibe just felt right…

[re: Mentorship]

“The first month of Techstars is like speed dating for companies and mentors. You talk to as many entrepreneurs as possible from the Techstars network. The goal is to find 3–5 people you like working with to help grow the company over the next 2 months leading up to demo day….I’m sure we easily talked to more than 50 people… In the end we paired up with 4 pretty amazing mentors…The second month of the program was about spending a few hours per week with each mentor and really cranking away on messaging and the product. This is where our vision really started to come together.”

[re: Give First Philosophy]

Brad Feld, one of the founders of Techstars, lives by this wonderful ‘give before you get’ philosophy. The idea is not born out of pure altruism where you give but don’t get. It’s hard to pay bills without the getting side of the equation. What this means is don’t worry as much about being transactional and clearly defining what you get for what you give. Instead, just focus on giving first. If the relationship evolves then getting will follow.”

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read Dane’s full post here.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Announcing New MDs for London, METRO Accelerator and Boulder

As Techstars continues to expand, we are bringing on new talent to help manage our global programs – now totaling 18 programs in 13 locations. Read on to learn more…

Meet Max Kelly, our new Managing Director of Techstars London. Max has a long background running innovation and entrepreneurship at Virgin. While there, he was responsible for the strategy of the group and for starting several companies which eventually exited for over $500M. Alongside his Virgin commitments, Max also co-founded lastsecondtickets.com which had a successful exit in 2014.

(Not to worry, Jon Bradford isn’t going anywhere. He is helping Max get up to speed through the next program before taking on a broader role in the Techstars organization.)

In Berlin, we recently brought on Rob Johnson as the Managing Director for the Techstars METRO Accelerator. Rob was co-founder of Makers Academy which quickly exploded into Europe’s largest coding boot camp and was recently ranked by the Guardian as the #1 place to learn to code in London.

In Boulder, Nicole Glaros will continue as a Partner in Techstars Ventures as well as moving into a Chief Product Officer role where she will be responsible for assuring that we continue to maintain a high level of quality across all of our programs. Nicole is passing the baton for Techstars Boulder onto a team of two new Managing Directors, Zach Nies and Natty Zola (clearly, it takes two men to fill Nicole’s shoes).

Zach Nies is the former Chief Technologist for Rally Software. His entire career has been dedicated to entrepreneurship at startups and inside large companies. He uses that experience, guided by his core value of Learn, Do, Teach, Learn, to help companies of all sizes successfully bring new products and services to market. Zach has served as a Mentor with Techstars since 2008.

Natty Zola is the co-founder of Everlater (an anagram of e-traveler), a consumer travel blogging platform and a CRM tool for tour operators, which was acquired by AOL in 2012 and merged into MapQuest. Natty brought his company through Techstars Boulder in 2009 and understands the entrepreneurial journey first-hand.

We couldn’t be more excited to bring them on as co-MDs who have been an integral part of the Techstars program for many years.

Check out this new video which gives more details on the transition of our Boulder program.


Welcome Max, Rob, Zach and Natty. Good luck to all of you and to Nicole in your new roles!

 

 

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Techstars METRO Accelerator

Are you working on a startup in the hospitality or food tech space? Can your product help a restaurant, hotel, catering company or cafe do business better or more efficiently? Want access to a global retailer’s 5,500-person salesforce and resources?
Then come learn more about the Techstars METRO accelerator at one of events. Rob Johnson, Managing Director of the program, will be available and ready to answer any questions that you may have about the program.
Sign up for one of our live events:
April 27th in Berlin – Register Here
May 11th in London – Register Here
May 13th in Paris – Register Here
May 27th in Shanghai – Register Here
June 1st in Tel Aviv – Register Here
Can’t make it to one our live events? Sign up to attend one of our online webinars:
May 1st at 3PM CET (Central European Time) – Register Here
May 7th at 10AM CET – Register Here
May 15th at 12PM CET – Register Here
May 24th at 9PM CET – Register Here
We’ll be accepting applications to the Techstars METRO accelerator from April 27th until August 3rd. The accelerator kicks off on October 12th in Berlin and culminates with Demo Day in January 2016.
Have questions and can’t make it to any of the above sessions? Please contact rob.johnson@techstars.com

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Where Are They Now? Sphero in the New Star Wars Film

The latest company in our Where are They Now? series features Boulder-based Sphero, who first graduated from Techstars in 2010. Their extremely passionate mentor, Paul Berberian, joined as their CEO later on that year. Sphero has grown quickly and even with their popularity and success, decided to go through the Disney Accelerator powered by Techstars program in 2013. This experience led to an exciting opportunity to create a new robot named BB-8—a new character in the upcoming installment of the Star Wars series!

Sphero is also making a positive impact on the world with their SPRK (Schools, Parents, Robots, Kids) program. By combining technology and robots, they’re teaching and inspiring children of all ages.  Whether you’re an educator or a parent, SPRK lessons give kids a fun crash course in programming while sharpening their skills in math and science.

Check out the video below and congratulations to everyone at Sphero!

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The Science of Going Viral: Story #5 in the Techstars “Bend the Curve” blog series

Welcome back to our final installment of the Bend the Curve blog series on Techstars.com! We are excited to share with you the newest book for entrepreneurs, Bend the Curve, authored by Andrew Razeghi. (More about Andrew below.) In this handbook for entrepreneurs, Andrew has captured the brilliance and insights of over a dozen of our most sought-after mentors. Everyone from first-time entrepreneurs to seasoned veterans will find useful, practical advice from other founders that you can use on your journey.

Over the past several weeks, we have been releasing short excerpts from the book including stories of entrepreneur success and failure. Today, read about Emerson Spartz, who began his entrepreneurial journey at age 12. We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the lives of startup founders. To order the book, visit: http://bendthecurve.co/

Bend the Curve
Chapter 12: The Science of Going Viral

The words projected on the screen behind him set the tone for what’s to come. Hi! I’m Emerson Spartz. I want to change the world. Emerson Spartz speaks with the cadence of a man on a mission. He talks fast—really fast—as if his tongue is in a race to catch up with his brain. His tongue has no chance. Spartz wastes no time, knows what works, and is generous in sharing it. He—along with his team at Spartz, Inc.—has turned the art of virality into a science, a science he began studying at a very early age.

At 12 years old, Emerson Spartz convinced his parents to let him drop out of school to homeschool himself. A month later, he created a website called MuggleNet, a Harry Potter fan site that quickly drew over 50 million page views per month. “I had to grow up really fast,” Spartz recalls. “Through MuggleNet, I was managing a part-paid, part-volunteer staff of 120 people. I learned how to code, how to write, how to lead, how to edit, and how to design. We published three books, one of which became a New York Times bestseller. The success of MuggleNet allowed me to represent the fans at a press conference with J.K. Rowling. It went extremely viral because she rarely does interviews.

Spartz combined his early success with an insatiable appetite for the study of influence, which became the foundation of his company. Spartz, now 27, is co-founder of Spartz, Inc. along with his wife Gaby, she too a once-precocious 12-year- old founder. Her site, Daily Cute, is a website of images of baby animals. As Emerson recalls from when he met her as classmates at Notre Dame, “I hit the jackpot!

Both MuggleNet and Daily Cute are now two of what is a growing portfolio of Spartz Media websites and apps that collectively draw over 17 million readers and over 25 million followers on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Spartz now launches a new property once every six weeks. Among the properties he’s launched over the years are GivesMeHope, Memestache, OMG Facts, Unfriendable, As Failed on TV, SmartphOWNED, Dose, in addition to new mobile apps in gaming (Blanks) and dating (Twirl). Spartz now has nearly forty people working for him full-time including data scientists, web developers, and editors. Together, Spartz, Inc. media properties educate, inspire, and entertain over 100 million people every month.

Spartz is in the business of virality. Using predictive science to measure viral potential, Spartz can predict the likelihood of a piece of content going viral or not. Thus far, Spartz Media has a 90 percent success rate. Spartz refers to his proprietary algorithm as an “awesomeness meter.”

In this chapter, we’ll talk about:

  • The science of virality
  • Making stuff go viral
  • Really useful techniques you should use

I liked that. Give me more. To order the book: http://bendthecurve.co/

About the Author

Andrew Razeghi is  an educator, author, speaker, consultant and angel investor. He is a limited partner in Techstars and integrally involved in the Chicago program. Andrew is a lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is also founder & managing director of StrategyLab, Inc., a growth strategy & innovation consulting group.

Andrew is a contributor on the topic of innovation for a series of shows on The Travel Channel and is the author of several books including The Future of Innovation, The Upside of Down: Innovation through Recessions, and The Riddle: Where Ideas Come From and How to Have Better Ones. The Riddlewas chosen by Fast Company as one of its “Smart Books.” You can reach Andrew by email at andrew@strategylab.com or follow him on twitter @andrewrazeghi.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Good luck, Techstars NYC Winter 2015!

Today we are graduating the 6th Techstars NYC batch. The companies worked super hard during the program, and we are delighted to see just how much growth and progress they’ve achieved.

This batch was remarkable in a number of ways.

First, it was the most tech-focused group we’ve ever had in NYC. A new kind of data store, innovative translation service, software to optimize ISP delivery, complex 3D and virtual reality algorithms, in-browser interpreter for running R, microservices, NodeJS management and even the world’s first printer for electronics — this batch tackled it all. For more about the innovation that these Techstars companies have launched please read this post on my blog.

Secondly, we had the most international group. Five teams moved across the ocean to participate in the program. They came from Australia, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Here is a little bit more about each company, and the progress they made.

BentoBox offers restaurants a platform to manage mobile-first websites, marketing and operations. Over 100 restaurants in NYC, including Union Square Hospitality Group, Spotted Pig, Breslin and Meatball Shop are using Bento Box today. The company is seeing 30% MoM growth, and is now expanding to other cities.
Cartesian Co enables rapid electronics prototyping with their desktop 3D printer for circuit boards. Think MakerBot for electronic circuits. To make this technology possible, Cartesian team had to invent a new kind of ink. To date they’ve sold $300K worth of printers to both hobbyists and big names like Google and NASA.
DataCamp is an online data science school that offers hands-on courses using video lessons and interactive coding challenges. Over 100K data scientists have signed up. DataCamp is ramping up its monthly revenue via subscriptions, and have partnered with GA, Coursera, top universities, Microsoft, IBM and Accenture.
Stefan’s Head – is the first text-message driven retail brand. Looking for something off the beaten path? Look no further. Whimsical Stefan is your weekly shopping concierge and companion. He dreams up cool, limited edition products and texts you when the next one is ready. Hurry, if you snooze, Stefan will offload his stuff to other peeps. To get on the list: TXT STEFAN: 646-759-0904.
irisVR builds software to share, edit, and visualize 3D models in virtual reality. With their platform people can experience spaces in VR before they are built. IrisVR helps save money on costly updates and post-construction changes. IrisVR has 1,200 beta signups including top AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) firms in NYC.
Keymetrics offers a real-time platform for managing and monitoring NodeJS applications. Their open-source product, PM2, has been downloaded more than 600K times and grew 14x in the last 12 months, and is now seeing 40% MoM growth. Keymetrics powers tens of thousands of websites around the world and has Intuit, PayPal, and Southwest Airlines among their beta customers.
Localize offers localization as a service, and helps translate your website with one line of code. They make a typically painful process completely painless with no dev effort. The company now has 150 paying customers and served translated pages to over 10MM unique visitors in March. Localize has been experiencing rapid growth, averaging 15% revenue and customer growth WoW.
LSQ is a platform for developing and deploying microservices. Similar to how Docker popularized containers to make application deployment simpler, LSQ is making it easier to build large-scale applications using microservices. LSQ released its first version during Techstars and has 50 beta customers.
Pilot is a new kind of internet provider for businesses. It is fiber-based, 10x faster than Google Fiber, features transparent pricing, 100% uptime guarantee and white glove service. Pilot built smart software that helps guarantee speed and makes it easy to manage internet in the office. They have 150 customers in NYC, 30% MoM growth and will be soon expanding to Chicago.
Spoon University is a food network for the next generation. They have experienced more than 10x growth in the last 4 months, and now have 2.5MM uniques. Spoon University is building a new type of media company: a true network. 3K students contribute content from 100 campuses around US. Warning: this site is very addicting.
Stream is new kind of data store designed for building, scaling and personalizing feeds. 500K apps have feeds in them and they keep re-inventing the wheel. Much like Elasticsearch changed the game for search, Stream is making building feeds easy. The company has 100 customers, and has seen 50% growth WoW in Techstars. They served 10MM feed requests in March, and have Rhapsody, eToro, and StockTwits in beta.
Unique Sound is a platform for composers and sound creatives to showcase their work and get hired. As the mobile video is growing the demand for high quality original music grows with it. UniqueSound now has a database of 1,000 composers who have done projects for L’Oreal, Mandarin Oriental, and Samsung.

 

The companies are grateful to all 136 mentors who have helped them accelerate their businesses and made this special video to highlight their top mentors.

The post Good luck, Techstars NYC Winter 2015! appeared first on Techstars.



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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Join us at the Metro Accelerator Launch Event in Berlin

Introducing the Techstars METRO Accelerator in Berlin, Germany!

Building on successful accelerators across the globe, Techstars has partnered with METRO and R/GA to bring the world’s first hospitality & food tech accelerator. The program kicks off in October and offers intensive mentoring and unprecedented access to the resources of one of the world’s largest hospitality and retail companies.

We’re looking for a diverse group of companies across payments / ordering / delivery / inventory management / food tech / supply chain optimization / logistics / big data / mobile / B2B SaaS for restaurants, hotels, cafes and catering companies.

Come learn more about the 13 week program at our April 27th launch event in Berlin!

The post Join us at the Metro Accelerator Launch Event in Berlin appeared first on Techstars.



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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Important Program Deadlines

Just a quick announcement about several upcoming important deadlines for Techstars’ global accelerator programs!

 

4/19 – Disney Accelerator applications CLOSE

4/26 – Chicago, London, Seattle applications CLOSE

4/27 – Metro (Berlin) applications OPEN

5/10 – Barclays (NY) applications CLOSE

Good luck to all of our applicants!

To learn more about how to get into Techstars, check out this Q&A with Ari Newman, Partner of Techstars Ventures.

 

The post Important Program Deadlines appeared first on Techstars.



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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How the Disney Accelerator Powered by Techstars Program Changed My Life

Founder Guest Post: By Ken Fukazawa, CEO of Tyffon, makers of ZombieBooth and Show Your Disney Side

“Why don’t you apply to the Disney Techstars accelerator program? I think it’d be perfect for your company.”

A friend of mine said this to me about two weeks before the deadline for applications for the program. The main product of our company, Tyffon, is an app called ZombieBooth 2 that turns selfies into zombies. At that time, the app already had over 20 million downloads across the series, but the majority of users were men in their 20s and 30s. The nature of the app and its target demographics might not be considered suitable for Disney.

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I’m not sure what made my friend think that the Disney accelerator would be a fit for my app, but once I had the idea in my head – I couldn’t let it go…

How it All Began: Inspired by Disney’s Haunted Mansion
I’ve always been inspired by Disney. When I was four years old and first visited Disneyland, their “Haunted Mansion” made a strong impression on me. The high artistic quality and variety of tricks made me feel as if I had entered a fantasy world, which inspired me to want to create similar things in the future. Based on this experience, I started to draw scary pictures of skulls, ghosts and zombies, growing up to become a child that loved frightening people. Without these experiences, ZombieBooth may have never been born.

When it came to apply for the program, I was apprehensive since there was very little time to prepare everything and because English is my second language, it made it even more challenging. In spite of all this, I completed our application before the deadline and we were selected to join the program!

Up until then, we had done business completely on our own, without any mentors or networking, simply developing code in earnest from a small apartment. At the time, the company was comprised of just three of us living in Tokyo, but we soon headed to L.A. to participate in the program. The four months we spent in the program were the busiest and the most fulfilling of our lives…

Working with our Sphero Heroes
The Disney Techstars  program was  an amazing experience for our company. One reason was that the other participants were from truly awesome companies. When the Sphero robotic ball first launched in Japan, I bought one straight away and fell in love with  it. When I got to the U.S., I was shocked to learn that one of our fellow cohort companies at Disney Accelerator was Sphero! The other companies also had tons of experience and cool products, so being able to sit with them side by side, sharing the experience of building our business and giving each other advice, was an extremely stimulating and meaningful experience.

The Power of the Network
Another benefit of this program is the 100+ mentors to guide you. Getting advice directly from respected experts, such as Disney executives, was extremely valuable. New ideas and different ways of thinking became ingrained in our thought process which helped to clarify our direction.

On top of this, we were introduced  to so many new companies and people — and this was the thing that was the most directly beneficial for us — the network. Until then, our company had only done business  in Japan and, therefore, we had very little connections in the U.S. However, by the time we finished the program, we had so many connections with many mentors, the people they introduced to us, Techstars’ staff, alumni, and more. From this network, we were able to meet with people from Disney Parks & Resorts, which then led us to developing an app in partnership with Disney…

Show Your Disney Side
Our new app, called Show Your Disney Side, allows you to transform your selfie into a variety of Disney characters such as Anna, Elsa, and Star Wars characters. The photo after the transformation moves around as if it were alive, allowing you to swipe the screen to make the eyes and face move, and also by tapping the screen you can make characters do special effects such as making it snow (if you are Anna). As with the Haunted Mansion characters (the ones that originally inspired me on this journey), the app was designed so you can unlock special content by physically going to the Disney theme park.

disney

When Demo Day was finished, we were allowed to use the Disney Accelerator office, which was very close to the Disney campus, allowing us to walk to meetings and make progress while maintaining frequent communications with others. Everyone at Disney is extremely creative, and we were able to learn a lot from them as we developed our projects together right next to them.

Media Coverage Boost
From this direct networking, another great benefit was that we were able to grow our company’s presence externally. Right after Demo Day, the LA Times posted a large article featuring Tyffon, and after Show Your Disney Side was released, they also featured an article about the app and our company. We were also featured in a variety of media which allowed us to promote our company and our products much more widely. Without our participation in this program, it would have been very difficult for a no-name company like ours, without any marketing or promotional activities to speak of, to be featured in such influential media!

Give First Really Means Something
We received many more benefits from this program, but the final one to mention is the amazing people from Techstars. These people gave their full support to all the participants, working hard to make the program as effective as possible. They truly live their value of “Give First.” Without the kind and professional support we received from all the staff, as well as our Managing Director, Cody Simms, we would have never been able to achieve these results. Not only that, even after the program was finished, they have continued to help us out in many ways and we have experienced first hand the “power of the network.” 

The Techstars global ecosystem has proven to be extremely valuable for the future life of our company and we are proud to be a part of it — Techstars for life!

To apply for the Disney Accelerator Powered by Techstars, apply HERE. Deadline April 19th.

(Are you a Techstars founder with a story to tell? Contact us at info@techstars.com and let us know how you have experienced the “power of the network!”)

 

The post How the Disney Accelerator Powered by Techstars Program Changed My Life appeared first on Techstars.



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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Google Wallet now covers Seamless purchases and is supported in Shopify, ChowNow and Shopgate

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Ever since Apple Pay came to be, it’s seemed mobile payments are finally here to stay. Google is taking advantage of the renewed interest by breathing new life into its…

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Amazon has filed its first ever lawsuit over fake product reviews

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Amazon has filed a lawsuit against four websites – buyamazonreviews.com, buyazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net and buyreviewsnow.com – for allegedly selling fake product reviews. When you are buying a product on Amazon, you…

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Watch now: The evolution of online news

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What is the future of news – and online news in particular? Jimmy Maymann, the CEO of the Huffington Post, does not believe in paywalls because often the content is…

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Canada and Russia beat tropical countries to top global deforestation list

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Not very long ago, tropical countries like Indonesia and Brazil were cast as the main villains of global forest conservation efforts. These countries have been chopping down huge swaths of rainforests to make way for agriculture and palm oil plantations, among other uses

By and large, they still are — but compared to other countries, there may be sufficient evidence now to pass the villain baton to other national actors. And these other nations aren't ones that you'd normally suspect.

According to new data from Global Forest Watch, the deforestation story is becoming more complicated, which could be good news for those who have worked with governments of tropical nations to slow their deforestation rates, but bad news for the stability of the planet's climate overall. Some of the new top players in deforestation are located thousands of miles north of the equator, in Russia, Canada and the U.S., Global Forest Watch found Read more...

More about Climate Change, Forests, Russia, Global Warming, and Us World

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