Last Evening Before the Fun Begins (Daily Double Bonus)

Rosa getting the Assoicates well prepared for the summer
Rosa getting the Associates well prepared for the summer

To cheat on my sidebets about my blogging output, I am putting out an afternoon version. 2 blogposts in one day = half of my weekly obligations in my wager with Twitter’s very own @r2r.

In keeping with the fun of the morning, this afternoon kept up at the same breakneck pace. In short order I learned:

  • More details about the $50 million raised by TS Boston 2013 alum Pillpack, proving Accel’s Fred Destin is the 2nd smartest Belgian after Tintin
  • one more of the new companies made its first cash sale today on a multiple year contract, boosting the number of companies starting the class with revenues from 9 to 10 out of the 13 accepted–we’ve got to get a gong to celebrate milestones like this!
  • a company with one of the most experienced and successful founders (5 of our companies have founders with previous exits!) let us know that he is considering a huge pivot from software to hardware since we reviewed their application…this is NOT going to be boring
Amanda doing QA field work
Amanda doing QA field work

The associates showed their TRUE hacking chops with the most important hardware hack of all…getting the kegerator up and running. And that, of course, required some iterative testing.

I had to leave the early in order to grab another quick beer at the office-warming party for Project 11. (One of my favorite seed funds—here’s a post I wrote about them way back in 2010. How many micro-VC seed funds were there back then? Precious few…) P11 is headed by former TS Managing Directors Katie Rae and Reed Sturtevant, along with their partner Bob Mason…who has consistently gotten the most praise of any mentor at TS Boston in my unscientific surveys.) It was a who’s who of Techstars mentors there. While I only stayed a few minutes, I saw Walt Winshall, Warren Katz, Preston Ford, Mike Dornbrook, John Landry and several more. Mentor Zen Chu (one of the founders of MIT’s Hacking Medicine, where Pillpack was hatched) agreed to help line up a few more healthtech mentors for one of our new companies that has a special health IT angle.

While this looked like the event of the week, I had a mission—I was going out with another one of the local Techstars teams to see Michael Skok (also one of the top-ranked TS mentors) and special guest Alex Osterwalder (inventor of the “Business Model Canvas”) give a class at MIT to a SRO crowd on the “Value Proposition Canvas”. We’ll be doing some of these types of exercises tomorrow on day 1, so it was good to take some notes. My favorite thing about Michael’s frequent lectures–he posts all of his “Startup Secrets” talks to the web, creating effectively the best organized, most clearly explained MBA-level course in entrepreneurship around.

Michael Skok and Alex Osterwalder play to a packed crowd at MIT
Michael Skok and Alex Osterwalder play to a packed crowd at MIT

When I started my “Blogging Techstars” series I said I was going to open-source as much as I could to help all of the entrepreneurs I can. Well, here’s my first tip to those wondering what Techstars’ Boston will be like? I’m suggesting to all of the companies that they review the relevant lecture by Michael before we tackle that part in our program.

Ahmed Hentati of MassChallenge
Ahmed Hentati of MassChallenge

Once I found the auditorium (at MIT, this can take 20 minutes–you need an app just to navigate the campus,) I was delighted to see two of my former interns there, Ahmed Hentati (now working at MassChallenge) and Rishitha Reddy Kotapalle (about to take an Associate position with Techstars in NY). I felt like a proud mother duck seeing the ducklings swim off on their own.

After the program, I shared a ride back on the T with some of the participants. There’s something brewing in Boston this summer, and it’s looking special.

Tomorrow we’ll finally meet everybody. You, however, will have to wait until Wednesday to get that news, as we’re keeping the companies under wraps until we introduce them to the alumni and the mentors on Monday and Tuesday next week.  Stay tuned.


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