Funding Fun

Social Media Referral Platform Tout’d Raises $1.4M in Seed Funding

Mr. Kallenberg (Photo: LinkedIn)

New York-based “Word-of-Mouth” platform Tout’d announced this morning that they raised $1.4 million in a seed round led by Warner Hill Angels. Tout’d, led by Techstars alum Arron Kallenberg and Wall Street vets Rob Morelli and Saro Cutri, allows users to crowdsource questions like, “What’s the name of a good plumber?” to your social connections, who can provide helpful answers.

Tout’d users can sign in using Facebook Connect and have personalized recommendations immediately delivered to them based on their social circle. Picture Foursquare tips, but for anything, and with more in-depth details.

Tout’d CTO Mr. Kallenberg, who is basically the definition of “serial entrepreneur,” has had his fair share of experience knocking around startup ideas. “When I got to college I wanted to study cultural anthropology, but my family operates a commercial fishing boat in Alaska and the fishing industry took a nosedive economically, so I started a consulting company doing app development when I was pretty young,” Mr. Kallenberg told Betabeat by phone. Read More

Web TV

Dave Tisch, Alexis Ohanian and Other NYC Tech Favs Cameo in Hulu Dramedy Leap Year

Lights, camera, Tisch! (Photo: Leap Year)

When the Techstars reality show on Bloomberg TV gets too intense (What will happen to To Vie For!?!), award-winning producer Wilson Cleveland has a solution for you. His web series Leap Year, presented by Hiscox Insurance, chronicles the personal and professional lives of several employees at a startup called C3D, which is “like Skype with holograms.” The show follows the ups (but mostly downs) of building a startup, with a wry comedic voice and plenty of inside jokes for the tech set. In fact, the show garnered so many Startupland fans that a couple of  New York’s better-known tech glitterati make appearances in this season.

Today, Mr. Cleveland and the Leap Year team released an episode featuring none other than Techstars cofounder Dave Tisch, Shelby.TV cofounder Reece Pacheco, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian and Change the Ratio cofounder Rachel Sklar. Quite the star-studded cast. Read More

Real TechStars of New York City

Techstars Alum Shelby.TV Shutting Down This Weekend, Team to Focus on Rebuilding the Site from the Ground Up

The Shelby team hard at work on... something? (Photo: Reece Pacheco, Artwork c/o http://sirmikeofmitchell.com/ )

Apparently something’s up over at Techstars alum Shelby.TV. Cofounder Reece Pacheco just emailed Betabeat to say that the team would be shutting down the current iteration of Shelby in order to focus on rebuilding the product.

“It’s no secret that we’re building a new version of Shelby, rebuilt from the ground up, but we’re going to shut down the current version in the interim,” he wrote. “No big deal really, just a matter of focusing on one product at a time.” Read More

Look At Me Now

TechStars NYC: Where Are They Now?

23 Photos

Spontaneously (Summer 2011)

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. Read More

The Real TechStars of New York

How to Ruin Your Wildly Successful TechStars Demo: Fudge Facts on Stage

Mr. Gaal

You know what they say about karma, so don’t make us repeat it. It looks like good intentions backfired with Karma, a 4G hotspot provider initially founded in Amsterdam that presented this morning at TechStars Demo Day.

In press materials for the spring class, Karma’s one-line descriptor was: “Simple, honest 4G provider,” a sentiment repeated throughout its introductory blog post. But shortly after Demo Day ended, Travis Kalanick, the CEO of request-a-ride car app Uber, tweeted that Karma’s CEO Robert Gaal had not been honest in mentioning a partnership with Uber during the company’s pitch in front of crowd of more than 700 at Webster Hall. Read More

The Real TechStars of New York

Everything You Want to Know About The Spring 2012 Class of TechStars for Demo Day [Slideshow]

13 Photos

Wander (a beautiful way to share and experience the world)

After three long months of toiling away at 36 Cooper Square, TechStars NYC’s spring 2012 class is finally ready to say, “Hello, world.” Or rather, “Show me the money.” This morning, 13 startups will present their exhaustively-rehearsed pitches to a crowd of more than 700 for the program’s third Demo Day. (Check out our live-blog from Webster Hall.)

Back in March, managing director David Tisch promised us his most visionary class yet. “They all take big swings,” he told Betabeat. “I think the ideas are all going for something big. I don’t think there are  lot of safe bets or small bets.” Read More

The Real TechStars of New York

Liveblogging TechStars Demo Day

Managing director David Tisch on stage at TechStars Demo Day at Webster Hall.

Don your robes, apply your waterproof mascara and prepare for an indulgent celebratory lunch at some place like the Cheesecake Factory: it’s graduation day for the Spring 2012 TechStars. Each of the 13 companies will be introducing their products to a slew of mentors, investors and reporters at today’s Demo Day, with the hopes of knocking their socks off and–hopefully, fingers crossed!–nabbing some VC bucks. The show starts at 8 a.m., folks, so grab your coffee and we’ll see you then.

The Real TechStars of New York

The One TechStars NYC Startup That Won’t Be Pitching At Demo Day Tomorrow

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In March, TechStars NYC announced that it had selected 14 startups from an applicant pool of more than 1,600 for the chance at 13-weeks of mentorship and $100,000. But only 13 companies will be presenting at tomorrow’s Demo Day at Webster Hall. Betabeat has learned that StockTouch, which described itself as “revolutionizing finance with mobile data visualization,” did not participate in the program.

Managing director David Tisch would only say that the decision was mutual. We have reached out to StockTouch for comment and will update the post when we hear back. StockTouch CEO Jennifer Johnson was one of five female CEOs (and six female cofounders) accepted into the spring 2012 class. Read More

Accelerated Learning

Beware the Artificial Accelerator

Paul Graham, YCombinator overlord. (flickr.com/jolieodell)

In the world of startup accelerators, TechStars and Y Combinator are arguably top dogs. Each receives thousands of eager applicants every year, and only accepts an elite percentage of companies into their inner circles. But of course, with the success of the TechStars/Y Combinator models comes a slew of copycat accelerators that may lack the credentials and experience to actually help their applicants. 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?