Teach Me How to Startup
It’s awfully hard to learn entrepreneurship out of a book, or even out of Hacker News comment threads. Sometimes, you just need to pin down someone who’s been there for an answer. But not every newbie has access to a high-powered mentor. That’s where the Young Entrepreneur Council wants to help, with its #StartupLab initiative.
#StartupLab is a Facebook application built by the Young Entrepreneur Council in a partnership with Citi, which you can access here. The organization also gives it away to organizations ranging from Junior Achievement to local high school enthusiast groups, so they can embed it on their own pages and distribute to their members. Through, users can access videos, free ebooks, and free lessons.
But perhaps the most exciting prospect is the live Q&As. Every Thursday, an entrepreneur gives up an hour of his time for a live chat. Participants have ranged from Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian to Foodspotting’s Soraya Darabi. You can either ask a question during the chat, or in advance (in exchange for tweeting about it in advance, that is).
Look At Me Now
We feel a little guilty. We’ve been fickle and easily distracted. Last year, the first two TechStars NYC classes were all we could talk about. But when their programs ended, we kind of forgot about them and directed our attention to the newest TechStars NYC class. Shame on us!
But back in the day, those first 23 companies were all the rage. Like shiny new toys, they were exciting and fascinating. There was even a reality television show about them. So even though their three-month, highly-competitive startup accelerator program has ended, these companies are still around. They didn’t just vanish into thin air. (Well, some of them did).
But all of this begs the question, where are these companies now? How have they fared in the big, bad world? Did they flop? Or surpass expectations?
We didn’t know, so we decided to find out. And it turns out that we weren’t the only ones who were curious about what these companies have been up to.
All the jobs
The NYC Startup Job Fair was packed with tons of New York City tech companies and startups on the hunt for that oh-so-hard-to-find tech talent, specifically engineers and developers. Hopeful applicants, some fresh-faced, some not so much, squeezed past each other picking up job descriptions and dropping off resumes and business cards.
All photos by Ben Weitzenkorn.
Contently, a startup which managing an online marketplace that matches freelance writers with work, has raised $2 million in a series A round led by Lightbank, the firm run by Groupon investor and board member Eric Lefkofsky. Local investors like ff Venture Capital and Consigliere Brand Capital also participated.
With Demo Day coming up tomorrow, ten out of 11 companies is the number to beat. That’s ratio of startups from TechStars inaugural class that got funded. But keep in mind not everyone had a killer Demo Day. For some, funding didn’t come till a few months down the line. “It’s like the SATs,” one mentor told Betabeat of Demo Day. “Some people are good at testing, some aren’t.”
There’s a lot riding on tomorrow’s event–the funding environment isn’t quite as frothy as it was for TechStarsNY 1.0, and the companies are well aware of that, mentors told Betabeat. “It’s a more fragile period of time than last Demo Day,” said the mentor. “They realize that they gotta be on their game.” As such, companies have been pounding out the decks, practicing demos for each other almost every week.
Perhaps it’s because the cameras aren’t around, or perhaps because TechStars New York is more established, but there’s less ego in this class and fewer type-A personalities. Investors promise that this Demo Day will still have plenty of showmanship and say this season’s TechStars class is fundamentally very solid. Many companies have partnerships; some have revenue. Almost all have raised money or gotten commitments–several New York VCs told us they had invested in at least one of the startups. Two companies won’t even really be raising money, one mentor said, because they don’t need it.”
Curious to know who pivoted and who’s already closed their round? Check out our cheat sheet, get your game face on for tomorrow and pick your ponies in the comments.
Update: SideTour announced their funding today on TechCrunch, a $1.5 million round led by RRE and Foundry Group. We noted in the slideshow they already had their lead investors locked down, but it seems unlikely now they will try to grow their round tomorrow.
Local Organic Content
It’s not a million dollar round on the first day of class, but Contently.com, which just joined the second class of TechStars NY, has raised a $335,000 debt round from Founder Collective.
The start-up has positioned itself as the anti-content farm, helping freelance journalists to manage their careers and big brands to produce editorial content that stands out, all while avoiding the SEO optimized schlock pumped out by Demand Media and others.
Speaking from personal experience, there isn’t much money in making freelance journalists your clients. But connecting professional writers with big brands looking for some high class advertorial could be a strong play. A corporation can afford to pay premium freelance rates, since they are chasing pageviews and online engagement, not a return on their dollars via advertising.