It’s official: I’m joining Techstars as a Director in their Boston program!
I haven’t been as excited to embark on a new venture since my wedding day. A Techstars figure once told me, “It seems like my entire life has prepared me for being here,” and I know exactly what he means. I started as an investor, attending Demo Day first in 2010, then becoming a limited partner and a mentor in 2011, and got closely involved with a few startups a year since then. And now I’m all in.
Why? While at the core of Techstars is the tenet of Giving First, I now confess that this is 99% selfish—it just feels so good: I am rarely happier than when I walk into the Techstars office to the humming energy created by the many super-talented founders looking to make a dent in the universe.
Those warm fuzzy feelings stem tie into three themes.
I remember being blown away by my first “Companies meet Mentors” dinner. The grinning faces were not just the new founders there (those were the nervous smiles), but also the many stars of the Boston community: Katie Rae, Bill Warner, Reed Sturtevant, John Landry, Wayne Chang, Jen Lum and 60-70 more, the majority of whom I didn’t know at the time, but all united for the Techstars program. All hand-picked to help the 10 new teams, most of which ended up relocating permanently to Boston.
The emphasis here is the entire startup community. Now I am privileged to find myself right at its nexus. An important aspect of my job will be constantly improving and expanding this network, not just in Boston but across the globe. Want some examples? Last Demo Day, I finally met William Mougayar, who travels in from Toronto to mentor and spread his knowledge of Startup Management. I’d read his stuff for years, but it’s nothing like meeting the man. The last class of Boston Techstars companies came not just from the US but also from Australia, Croatia, Russia, Singapore and Holland.
And as part of my job, I get to further expand that community out to the angels, VCs, colleges—what could be better?
Think an old dog can’t learn new tricks? You’d be wrong. While I am an “experienced” entrepreneur (aka old), my personal learning has taken off during my time at Techstars. From getting current on relatively new areas such as blockchains, SaaS analytics, wearables and big data, to gaining fresh perspectives on classic topics like management and sales, Techstars is the place to be. The firehose is turned on and blasting at all time. And the instructors giving those lessons? Here’s a partial Boston mentor list. Imagine talking Bitcoin or video with Jeremy Allaire (founder of Circle, Allaire, Brightcove) or robotics with Colin Angle (iRobot). And I’m just going alphabetically, and just in Boston… Imagine what happens when you expand that network around the world!
OK, I lied. I do believe in Giving First, as explained in Nicole Glaros’ TedTalk. And I especially see eye to eye with Techstars Managing Director Semyon Dukach: he likes to talk about the ANGEL part of angel investing. As he discussed at a recent angel boot camp, “you need to think about the emotional returns–money doesn’t make a difference in your life, but finding someone you can really care about and help, THAT makes a difference.”
Amen, Rev. Dukach. And I’m blessed to have that opportunity. Thanks to all the Techstars community for allowing me to join you.