Real TechStars of New York
Well, this must be reassuring to the startups nervously prepping their pitches: Business Insider reports that Eugene Chung, who replaced David Tisch as managing director of TechStars NY, is gone. The former NEA VC had only been around since January.
Nothing like a good game of fruit-basket turnover two weeks before demo day!
TechStars New York has had three classes for a total of 37 startups since it launched in the beginning of 2011. The guys at social media sentiment analysis startup Buellr have arranged a ranking of the top ten of graduates from all but the current class.
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.
It was all sort of an accident. Developers Jonathan Wegener and Benny Wong decided to take a break from TechStars NY and have a little fun at a foursquare hackathon. “It was the one day during the entire program we didn’t go to the office, just a way to step off the grind of 15 hour days,” Mr. Wegener told Betabeat.
The product, originally called Foursquare-And-Seven-Years-Ago, sent users an email reminding them where they had checked in one year prior. “People had a really strong reaction to it,” said Mr. Wegener. “We kept thinking of it as this jokey little app we built, but when we had so many users it was starting to cost us money just to send out the daily emails, then we couldn’t ignore it anymore.”
When someone gets around to writing the history of Silicon Alley, 36 Cooper Square is going to be front and center. The long time home of foursquare will now be the new office for TechStars New York, helping to incubate the next generation of Silicon Alley startups.
You, Hey, Get Into My Cloud
Our personal favorite among this recent crop of TechStars NY startups was Dispatch, mostly because we can relate to the pain point they are trying to solve. The company gives users a single login and interface for managing their files across all their different cloud hosting services. So I can, for example, bring together all the different music I have on Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music.
The finale of the TechStars reality show is out, and it’s starting to look like Bloomberg took the Davids for a ride. Everyone in TechStars was required to participate–Bloomberg kept referring to the show as a documentary, and the program directors insisted it would be good publicity for everyone. “Tisch and Cohen fought VERY hard to make sure the finale episode was positive,” Melanie Moore, one of the first New York session alumni who was uncharitably portrayed, wrote on Hacker News last night when her blog post, “TechStars, Lies and Videotape,” hit the front page. “They felt just as disappointed and betrayed by Bloomberg as I.”
The show stitched together unrelated scenes and built a narrative that was in places entirely fabricated. It made Ms. Moore look like a ditz, David Tisch look like jerk and Jason Baptiste look like a braggert. But how did it make TechStars look?
UPDATE 7/26/2011: TechCrunch broke the embargo, as usual, but Erick Schonfeld was nice enough to link back to this original story on the round.
ThinkNear has announced that Google Ventures, who the team met during their time at TechStars NY, is one of its backers. Other investors include Metamorphic Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, FF Venture Capital, Real Ventures, Zelkova Ventures, BoldStart VC, David Tisch, Bill Boebel, Ben Sun, David Cohen and Matt Turck.
“We had only planned to raise $1 million but got $2 million worth of interest before we stopped looking,” says Founder Eli Portnoy. “We chose mainly to raise from the mentors we met through TechStars, people we knew could add value.”
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.
The hottest ticket in town for young start-ups is TechStars NY, an accelerator which wrapped up its inaugural class with a demo day at Webster Hall that packed the house with a who’s who of East Coast investors. Today Techstar’s NY announced its second class, which is slightly larger than the first, more experienced, and features Read More