On Thursday February 11th 2016, we went to Techstars Seattle and met Mitchell Cuevas who is Sr. Marketing Director for Techstars globally. Techstars is a global ecosystem that empowers entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market wherever they choose to develop their business. The company is mainly known for being one of the best mentorship-driven startup accelerator. Indeed, from 2006 to 2015, this accelerator helped 526 companies to raise over 1.3 billion dollars. To spread its influence all around the world, Techstars acquired UpGlobal (Startup Weekend, Startup Digest, Startup Next, Startup Week) last summer.
Let’s talk first about its core program: the Techstars Accelerator. This 13-week program is placed in more than 18 locations worldwide. It provides its startups with a global ecosystem of influential founders, mentors, investors and corporations. During this program, entrepreneurs work more than 12 hours a week and Techstars provides them the best resources available to scale up their business. But even if you have skills and capital, the biggest challenge is to build the good team.
After the acquisition of UpGlobal, Techstars focused on accelerating the development of Startup Weekend worldwide. To briefly remember you, Startup Weekend is a 54-hour competition gathering 60 to 120 entrepreneurs (developers, business managers, designers), speakers, coaches, and investors to launch a simple demo version – also called MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This competition is almost non-profitable but let them spread their mindset and influence. You may now wonder how does Techstars make money?
When Techstars invests $100,000 in a startup, it takes 6% common stocks equity. If these companies are successful, it will be a great return on investment (several million dollars).
To sum up, Techstars has developed for its trainees a simple guideline which consist of six business steps:
- Be inspired. That’s why they promote Startup Week as well as Startup Digest.
- Learn from other people. Startup Weekend is one of the great event for it.
- Found your project, preferably in team, and build your idea. Startup Next will help you achieve that.
- Startup your business. At this stage, Techstars Accelerator will support you.
- Scale-up your business by focusing on your mission. After your graduation from Techstars Accelerator, you will still have support from their community.
- Be a proven champion by being recognized as the leading organization in your field.
This visit was highly valuable for us. We strongly believe that the advice Mitchell gave us will be helpful for us as wannabe entrepreneurs. Thanks to him, other staff members, and entrepreneurs we’ve met there. Now we better understand what challenges we will have to face in order to succeed in our startup journey.
Written by Cassandre Milius, Lucie Payet & Ylias Medbouhi