The Real TechStars of New York

TechStars NYC Poaches Eugene Chung, a VC at NEA, to Replace David Tisch

Mr. Chung. (Photo: TechStars)

In December, after reports about an impending downturn in the accelerator boom, some local investors expressed concerns about the future of TechStars New York. Would the next Demo Day be the same parade of oversubscribed startups when much-hyped graduates were still stuck in beta? Were the lessons learned in TechStars enough to prepare companies for life outside the bubble?

David Tisch’s departure as managing director added to that uncertainty. But TechStars CEO and founder David Cohen dismissed those worries, pointing to “heavy inbound interest” in the role. Today, he announced his new hire from the 35 candidates interviewed: Eugene Chung, a former venture capitalist with New Enterprise Associates.  Read More

The Real TechStars of New York

Investors Wonder About the Future of TechStars New York

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 1.20.14 PM

At any startup accelerator, Demo Days are a relentlessly upbeat affair–a parade of promotional pitch decks and stats about market size that somehow always reach up into the billions. But in New York City, Techstars’ biannual showcase takes the cake.

Founded in Boulder, the program launched in New York in 2011 (just as the startup scene cried out for tent poles to rally around) and easily fills auditoriums. Companies often announce “soft-circled” funding or even that the round has already closed. Mayor Bloomberg even called the number of investors who fly to New York to check out presentations, “proof positive that the TechStars is going to change this world and certainly change America and this city.”

Or as TechStars mentor Joel Spolsky put it before introducing one of the startups at Webster Hall: “Time to get my company oversubscribed.” Read More

The Real TechStars of New York

TechStars NYC Ships in Talent From Boulder to Replace David Tisch

Ms. Glaros (Photo: NearlyNicole.com)

TechStars NYC has been quiet since August, when managing director David Tisch announced that he would be stepping back from his day-to-day role at the accelerator program. Almost exactly a year ago, we profiled Mr. Tisch’s rise to prominence in New York’s startup scene largely through his role in building a satellite program for TechStars, which entered the local market just when it could benefit from a little infrastructure.

(Early observers will recall that the first class of TechStars New York was filmed for a reality show, but managed to escape the humorless vitriol directed at Randi Zuckerberg–probably because the TechStars version was for Bloomberg instead of Bravo, and involved about 100 percent fewer toga parties.) Over the past few years, Mr. Tisch has become a prolific angel investor through Box Group, and his name frequently shows up in seed funding rounds for New York companies–TechStars and otherwise. Thus finding a replacement who is as well-versed in the scene might be tricky. Read More

Teach Me How to Startup

About One New Accelerator Is Launching a Day, Says TechStars Founder

(Photo: CERN)

Yesterday we wrote that the tech accelerator epidemic had hit New Jersey. The truth may be closer to: The tech accelerator epidemic has hit everywhere. Tech accelerators are so in vogue that Forbes added an accelerator ranking to its “Midas List” coverage, which includes a list of the top 100 venture capitalists.

Incubators have become so popular that about one accelerator launches every day, David Cohen, the founder and CEO of TechStars, told Forbes. He’s said it before; he was echoing his own earlier line from a panel about accelerators at SXSW. “It’s become a new college for entrepreneurs,” he added.

Forbes has rated Y Combinator, TechStars and DreamIt Ventures as the top three accelerators in the country. We’re all for accelerators, but one a day seems excessive. Echoes of ’99?

Patent Wars

TechStars Adopts Twitter’s Patent Agreement

Mr. Cohen

Look out, Microsoft: patent troll haters are emerging in full force, and by golly they will not let you stifle innovation. After yesterday’s news that Twitter had adopted a Patent Agreement meant to stymie the patent wars, everyone practically fell over themselves in an effort to congratulate Twitter on its innovative thinking. The new agreement says that Twitter will not use patents offensively, and any company that acquires patents from Twitter has to get the innovator’s consent before using them offensively. It’s a smart PR move, and will no doubt further endear engineers and tech watchers to the microblogging service.

Now, startup accelerator TechStars has announced that it intends to insert these patent hack provisions into its own policy, and encourage all of the startups it incubates to do the same. Read More

How BrightNest Learned to Stop Nagging and Crack More Jokes

Mr. Shulman, left; Mr. Anthony.

Allen Shulman, the 47-year-old, snowy-haired architect who had been building homes for 25 years before he decided to do an Internet startup, promised us the sun was shining in Denver when we spoke this morning at 9 a.m. Mountain Time.

Betabeat doesn’t usually cover startups based outside of New York, but we’re making an exception: BrightNest has a New York investor, Quotidian Ventures, and its seed round, which closed in October, went unreported. Until now, sorry: $665,000 led by David Cohen through his fund Bullet Time Ventures, with New World Ventures, OCA Ventures, and 11 assorted angels participating, on top of a $335,000 convertible note raised from friends and friends of friends in January 2011. Mr. Shulman and his cofounder, CTO Justin Anthony, made sure to close their funding before they started the winter session at 500 Startups; the company is now raising its Series A.

When BrightNest’s marketing rep pitched us on the startup—”our goal is to make changing furnace filters and cleaning gutters sexy”—we thought it sounded like, well, a bit of a reach for a write-up, for reasons other than geography. A startup built around reminding you to clean your gutters? With all the Twitters and FarmVilles competing for browsing time, how could you ever convince users to spend time with something that most closely resembles a nagging spouse, bugging you to change the lightbulbs, and making you think about things you don’t want to think about, like the mold slowly spreading through your basement? Read More

The Real TechStars of TechStars

Want to Get Into TechStars? $5 Will Bring You Closer

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David Cohen, David Tisch and Katie Rae (Boston managing director) of TechStars are teaching a Skillshare class, “How to Get Into TechStars,” on January 5th in advance of the application deadline. The proceeds will be donated to Summer Internship Fellowship program started by the Berkley Center and Entrepreneurs Exchange Club. It’s a meet-and-greet as well as an info session, the description says, and you can grill the Davids in person and shove your business cards into their hands! Read More

The Real TechStars of New York

Tisch Out of Water: David Tisch Navigates Startupland and Comes Out a TechStar

(via We Are NY Tech)

On a warm October afternoon, before the weather turned, Betabeat was following David Tisch’s lead up and down University Place in search of an empty-ish coffee shop. Mr. Tisch, the bright-eyed, foul-mouthed managing director of TechStars New York, an incubator for young startups, shuffled along in his standard get-up: jeans, a hoodie, and a backwards baseball hat. His unruly black hair flipped out from underneath.

It’s a fitting uniform for Mr. Tisch, who in person can come across much like the founders he invests in. The grandson of self-made billionaire Laurence Tisch, his speech is peppered with the words “fuck” and “cool,” he burrows his fists in his hoodie, and, once we find a place to sit, jostles the glasses on the table when he crosses and uncrosses his long legs. “I’m pretty shy in groups. I don’t like big crowds. So being on TV is weird for me,” he said, referring to the Bloomberg TV cameras that followed him around for months to document the TechStars New York’s inaugural class.

Just 48 hours earlier, clean-shaven and in shirtsleeves this time, Mr. Tisch stood in front of the Cedar Lake auditorium in Chelsea, rearranging the paper nametags on reserved seats like an anxious dinner party host, albeit to maximize the free flow of funding rather than conversation.

By the time he introduced Mayor Bloomberg to the packed house of more than 500, including the haut monde of investors and entrepreneurs who make up TechStars’ list of mentors and backers, Mr. Tisch had a hard time wiping off his grin.

“David, thank you. Good morning, it’s good to be here at Demo Day!” the Mayor said, before glancing at the iPad-cum-teleprompter he placed on the podium. “I also wanted to welcome all the VCs and angel investors who have flown in here from around the country. I think you’re proof positive that the TechStars is going to change this world and certainly change America and this city.”

Two years ago, Mr. Tisch, would have been lucky to get a ticket to such an affair, much less license to arrange the wedding table. While his last name may be synonymous with New York industry, aside from a handful of angel investments, Mr. Tisch was a relative unknown in tech circles before his appointment at TechStars. Read More