Monday, July 27, 2015

Meet the Seattle Techstars Class of 2015

We’re incredibly excited to introduce the Techstars Seattle class of 2015! We’ve spent the last several months reading applications, interviewing teams, and agonizing over our choices, but we’re finally ready to announce the eleven teams that are joining us here in Startup Hall, starting today.

As in past years, we’ve selected a class that reflects — and is best positioned to leverage — the deepest wells of technical and entrepreneurial excellence here in the Pacific Northwest. The eleven companies selected this year include teams focused on enterprise software and security, gaming and virtual reality, e-commerce and marketplaces, financial services, developer tools and data science. In addition to a strong cohort of local startups, we’re also happy to be welcoming teams from San Francisco, San Diego, British Columbia, Tel Aviv and Hong Kong.

The individual companies in this year’s class are listed below. We’re thrilled to welcome them to the Techstars Seattle community and look forward to keeping you updated on their progress between now and Demo Day.

AtCipher: Cloud security and zero-knowledge key management solutions
Brand.ai: Automatically maintainable UI components style guide
Candy Jar: Your online candy store
DataBlade: Web-based development environment for data analysis
Fish Bowl VR: On-demand usability testing for virtual reality
Giftbit: Accountable, money-back gift cards for business buyers
Innervate: Building massive communities of online gamers
Lightboard: Graphic design on demand
Matcherino: Crowd-funded e-sport matches
Mentio: Your mobile business mentor
ZIIBRA: Simple e-commerce for outstanding entrepreneurs

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Seeker Spotlight: Skoll Global Threat Funds

Skoll Global Threat FundsToday we’re speaking with the Skoll Global Threat Funds, who have just launched their latest challenge on water/climatic events.

Thanks for joining us today. To start, could you tell us a bit about Skoll Global Threats Fund’s mission and key activities?

 The Skoll Global Threats Fund is a private foundation based in California and we are committed to safeguarding humanity against global threats. In particular, we focus on a number of global threats that this challenge touches on: water, climate, and pandemics. We believe that the dramatic advancement in data and technology in the past decade, as well as our ability to connect with different people from different sectors, has the potential to give us some exciting solutions to tackle these very big threats that we face.

Why is this an important public good problem?

 We live in an increasingly interconnected and complex world. While the rapid exchange of goods, information, and ideas has brought opportunities to many, the increased interconnectivity has also increased our vulnerability to systemic risks.  In the last 10 years, we have seen an increasing number of water and climate shocks, such as extreme local floods and droughts that have triggered global crises and led to disease outbreaks, social unrest, migration, political instability. For example, droughts in China and the Middle East and a heat wave in Russia all contributed to high food prices that contributed to the start of the Arab Spring. We need a better way to monitor and alert if, where, and when these types of events may happen in the future.

Briefly, what are you looking for with the challenge?

We are really looking for new ideas and new approaches that can identify early indications that a water or climatic event in one location, such as floods or droughts, can trigger direct and indirect impacts elsewhere in the world. It is exciting to sometimes hear that there is so much data in the world, but what we are looking for is how to harness that data to solve big global threats.

What could strong submissions lead to?

We believe that the strong submissions can be the beginning of creating a near-real time monitoring system to predict these types of globally networked risks. As sectors tend to be siloed, and data disparate, we hope that  the submissions can lead to creative ways of fusing and analyzing data across disciplines, for a more thoughtful and informative analysis.

Any final words of advice or guidance for people looking to enter the Challenge?

We are really excited to see what the solvers come up with! We are looking for new, unusual, and diverse ideas. We are really hoping to see that a new network of innovators on water and climate shocks emerges out of this competition.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Techstars Experience Live from London: Hackajob

What’s it like to go through a Techstars program?  Why choose our accelerator over others?

This post in our series, “The Techstars Experience,” features highlights from weeks one and two of the London program from Mark Chaffey, cofounder of and CEO at  Hackajob, an online marketplace that matches technical candidates directly with employers. Mark talks about validating assumptions, growing his business and finding inspiration from other founders.

Re: Stop Working, Start Thinking

I’m sure many startups get into the flow of working, ploughing away at their endless to-do-lists and trying to hit ambitious targets. The month before Techstars we most certainly were. However, this week we’ve been forced to stop working and start thinking. As frustrating as it sounds for a hungry founder, it’s allowed us to dive deep into our business and truly understand our competitive advantages. I would strongly recommend every startup founder to do this for at least two hours, once a week. Ask why. Find your biggest assumptions and validate them. Don’t get caught in a repetitive cycle, make sure you’re delivering on your KPIs.

Re: Mentor Madness

This week we met 32 mentors for 20 minutes each. From CEOs, to Product Gurus, to Venture Capitalists, anyone you could possibly want to meet was there. I think this is one of the biggest advantages of the Techstars network and programme; giving you access to minds that would be so hard to meet elsewhere. These sessions provided us insight but more than that, I was surprised at how willing these mentors were to introduce us to more relevant people; from the 32 meetings we had, we now have another 13 setup. One week, 45 new contacts to help us grow our business. That’s the power of Techstars.

Re: Inspiring Stories

Every Thursday we get to listen to stories from founders and this week it was William Shu, co-founder of Deliveroo. I love listening to successful people, it always inspires me to work that little bit harder the next day (inspiration much needed, as we will discuss next). William’s story was a great one, a former investment banker who decided to solve a problem he first discovered in 2003, with his best friend from his childhood. I found it astonishing that he first had this idea more than a decade ago but no one had successfully executed on it until he started Deliveroo in 2011. It shows that timing is as important as anything and clearly with the rise of mobile, a solution that provided high quality food delivery was needed. 

Check out the full post here.

Want to apply to Techstars? Check out our Program Schedule and apply today!

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Funding and M&A Activity Across the Techstars Ecosystem

Congratulations to these Techstars companies that were recently acquired!

  • Fosbury (Austin ‘13) acquired by Verve.
  • Klooff (NYC ‘13) acquired by American Kennel Club.
  • WeDeliver (Chicago ‘14) acquired by Deliv.

Also, congratulations to the Techstars Alumni companies that have recently received notable investments!

 do DigitalOcean $83M DigitalOcean (Boulder ‘12) raised $83M in Series B funding this past week. DigitalOcean is a simple cloud hosting provider built for developers.
Realty Mogul $35M Realty Mogul (Microsoft Azure ‘12) announced a $35M raise in July. Realty Mogul is a marketplace for accredited investors to pool money online and buy shares of pre-vetted investment properties. Realty Mogul is crowdfunding for real estate.
Imprimir Distil $21M Distil (Cloud ‘12) raised $21M in Series B in June. Distil analyzes web traffic and blocks malicious bots from entering websites.
logo-mark-sketchfab Sketchfab $7M Sketchfab (NYC ’13) raised $7M in funding in June. Sketchfab is a marketplace for 3D files, whether it lies in creating web-sharable 3D files, browsing them, searching specifically, or buying them.
Ecovent_Logo_BLK_orange_BLU_house_only(288x288) EcoVent $6.9M EcoVent (Boston ‘14) raised $6.9M in June. EcoVent is a smart, room-by-room heating and cooling system that features a smart HVAC monitoring and control system that eliminates temperature imbalances and cuts utility bills by 35 percent.
 AdYapperLogo_Web1 AdYapper $4.5M AdYapper (NYC ‘13) announced a $4.5M raise in June. AdYapper delivers the team, technology, and data necessary for brands to quickly reclaim losses due to non-working media, and optimize to the media that best drives results.
Zagster_icon_-_small_400x400 Zagster $3.5M Zagster (Boston ‘12) raised $3.5M in Series A funding in July. Zagster provides bicycle sharing systems for the world’s leading businesses and institutions.
Knyttan Knyttan $3M Knyttan (London ’14) raised £2 ($3M) in seed funding in June. Knyttan is a vertically integrated fashion brand whose unique technology allows it to offer more designs and respond to trends faster than any existing retailer.
Get_Ambassador Ambassador $2.35M Ambassador (NYC ‘11) announced a $2.35M raise in June. Ambassador helps companies like Spotify and T-Mobile manage their referral marketing programs. Ambassador creates, tracks & manages custom incentives that drive referrals and evangelize your users.
 Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 3.31.02 PM Spoon University $2M Spoon University (NYC ‘15) announced a $2M raise in July. Spoon University is the everyday food resource for millennials. They cover everything from the best local restaurants and simple, unintimidating recipes to how to navigate your first kitchen, all written by people under 25.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Meet the Barclays Accelerator Powered by Techstars Class of 2015

Today we welcome 11 companies into the 2015 Barclays Accelerator in New York! This program is a FinTech-focused collaboration between Barclays and Techstars. Having run two successful programs in London, we are thrilled to expand our presence across the pond to New York, where we will be supporting entrepreneurs shaping the future of financial services and beyond.

This class represents a diverse cross-section of technologies and entrepreneurs with half of the companies coming from overseas to join us in NYC. We are excited to announce a dynamic group of problem solvers working to change the world as we know it!

Cashforce logo black letters floored Cashforce saves money & time of CFOs by generating accurate cash forecasts by processing data from banking and ERP systems.
ChainalysisLogo2 Chainalysis builds the layer of compliance and networking for the future of value exchange on the blockchain.
fmg-logo-1 First Mile Group has developed an API to handle compliance, customer on-boarding, identity verification, and ACH payment processing for developers.
LOTCrop3 Liveoak simplifies financial paperwork through real-time videoconferencing, collaboration, and in session eSignature anywhere/anytime/any device.
Logrr_logo_color Logrr provides password-less authentication for end users and centralised identity management for cloud services for enterprises.
logo OGY creates a safer, faster and more advanced electronic Bill of Lading for the shipping and transportation industry.
Print Remesh is a SaaS platform that uses Deep Artificial Intelligence to allow organisations to quickly gather, rank and filter voting by a crowd.
newseeds Seeds builds micro-lending into games, converting free users into paying customers through an ad surfacing during the game.
Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 10.51.25 PM Syndicated Loan Direct provides transactional research for the syndicated loan industry, serving banks, law firms, asset managers and PE firms.
VEQURITY_logo_HT_RGB Vequrity is a cloud-based platform for developing, selling and executing live, hands-on cyber trainings on real systems, ultimately creating a marketplace for security trainings.
Logo-To-Print Wayerz offers a fully integrated digital platform that allows banks and their corporate clients to optimize their international wiring processes.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

[VIDEO] Mentor Spotlight: Jennifer Lum of Adelphic Mobile

Today’s mentor spotlight is on Jennifer Lum! Jennifer is the co-founder of and Chief Strategy  Officer at Adelphic Mobile, has been a Techstars mentor since 2011, as well as an investor in several Techstars companies.

Check out this one-minute spotlight video to learn what Jennifer believes is key to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

BBVA Open Talent 2015 Competition

BBVA Open Talent is a startup competition with the goal of identifying the most innovative projects, support them, look for synergy and implement them. The three concepts that best define the essence of BBVA Open Talent are entrepreneurs, startups and open innovation.

The competition is for entrepreneurs and startups with technological and innovative fintech projects. This is the seventh edition of an international contest aimed for entrepreneurs and startups. BBVA wants to foster innovation in the financial ecosystem, including these topics:

  • Mobile banking
  • Payments and money transfer
  • Consumer Loans
  • Cryptonetworks
  • Alternative loans
  • Risk analysis
  • Investment management
  • Financial inclusion and education
  • Fraud management

BBVA Open Talent takes twenty finalists per region and provides them with an opportunity to present to reputable judges. All finalists will spend the day before the competition interacting with key global BBVA executives and decision makers.

During the immersion course, winners will spend a week in Mexico gaining first hand experience with the LATAM market and international scaling. This is paired with a week spent in London, spending more time with venture capitalists and embracing the local startup ecosystem.

Winners will also have the opportunity to enjoy a unique experience in El Celler de Can Roca with the Roca brothers in the heart of their restaurant and in La Masía, their innovation center.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 13.03.02

Also, the Special Award for Financial Inclusion of BBVA Open Talent 2015 looks for startups with digital financial solutions for low income customers or small business. The winner will travel to Maputo, Mozambique, to pitch their project at the Global Policy Forum in September 2015 and will also participate in the Immersion and interaction program.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 13.02.35
How to apply?
To apply, just follow these simple instructions:
2. Fill in your application, and in question number 43, select Techstars.
3. Done!
Good luck!
For more information, go to: http://bit.ly/OpenTalent15
To see this post in Spanish, click here. 

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Meet the Disney Accelerator Powered by Techstars Class of 2015

The printing press. The zoetrope. The cathode ray tube. RSS. The smartphone. Technological innovation has always played a key role in how media is created, distributed, and consumed. As technology grows ever more pervasive in our lives, its application to the world of media and entertainment has likewise broadened.

Today we are excited to announce the 2015 participants of Disney Accelerator powered by Techstars. The ten companies in this year’s program represent a diverse cross-section of technologies, and we are inspired by their visions for the applicability of these technologies in the media space.

Decisive Decisive is a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that uses real time data to enable advertisers to optimize mobile ad creative and targeting based on user engagement.
Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 10.47.55 AM EMOTIV is a bioinformatics company that uses electroencephalography (EEG) to track mental performance, monitor emotions, and control virtual and physical objects with thoughts.
FemLogoBig FEM Inc. has developed a personalized video engagement platform based on neuroscience and psychology that maps the emotional dimensions of how and why content resonates.
Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 10.48.33 AM HYP3R enables businesses and brands to identify influential customers at their locations and engage them in real time, when it matters most.
Logo-ImPerson imperson provides an artificial intelligence platform enabling fans to have conversations with their favorite movie and TV characters.
Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 10.51.58 AM Littlstar aggregates industry leading virtual reality content with its device agnostic discovery and distribution platform.
makielab-logo MakieLab lets kids bring toys to life by building their own customizable 3D-printed toys through creative games and apps.
Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 10.54.08 AM Open Bionics  is a robotics company creating affordable 3D-printed bionic hands for amputees, researchers and makers.
PunditLogoBig Pundit lets creators host audio Ask Me Anything (AMAs) with their Twitter network, transforming the talk radio experience for the social media age.
statmuseLogoBig StatMuse is developing an artificial intelligence platform to help sports fans explore data using simple, natural language.

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