A few weeks back we had the opportunity to sit down with David Cohen, CEO and cofounder of TechStars! Had a nice chat about TechStars, startups, eco systems and what it takes to form one.
The developments of TechStars over the last few years has been great to watch. Recently they launched the TechStars Network, which more or less gives you their whole program in a box – enabling you to start your own incubator based on their model. The organisation also has support by the White House program Startup America.
Most of the questions asked in on our facebook page were answered during the interview, but on some of them I’ll answer with what I know or talk about what came out of our discussion before/after the talk.
1. Is TechStars competing with other programs (e.g. Seedcamp, YC…) or collaborating? Examples?
Of course there is competition – all are looking for kickass early stage startups. But early stage != early stage. Also there are enough trees in the forest.
As I will mention below, there is a gap between Seedcamp and Y-Combinator/TS. Seedcamp rather only allows teams that already have a prototype built, or are already showing traction. This is, of course, also a huge bonus when it comes to applying for YC and TS – but not a must.
Nopes, no examples come to my mind, sorry Luiz!
2. What are the differences between the programs?
The different players in this area have different focus when it comes to startup stages, as well as geographical areas of focus.
Where YC focuses mainly on San Francisco, TS has spread out and only do 1 annual event in their locations (Boston, Boulder, Seattle, New York). The TechStars Network, as mentioned above and in the interview, enables acceleration programs to copy and paste the whole program, applying it to their location. Seedcamp overlaps somewhat with the TechStars program from a stage-perspective – I’d say that you could apply for the Seedcamp after TechStars with quite a high probability of being accepted.
We visited miniSeedcamp Berlin last year and what we saw there were products that were in prototype or early launch stage. Of the winners of Seedcamp’10, garmz.com was about to launch their beta shortly after presenting in Zagreb and wordy.com had already more or less found product market fit as they presented at miniSeedcamp Berlin. TS is valuable at a very early stage and Seedcamp is a logical step afterwards, if you couldn’t raise the money at Investor Day.
When it comes to HackFwd, the focus regarding team is entirely different, as are the equity stakes being traded. The approach taken by HackFwd is to enable individuals with ideas to kick off the shackle of the old jobs and focus on their vocation, which takes the shape of a startup. The HackFwd program also handles all the back-office stuff and administration. Both programs strive for simplicity, which is something I really like about them.