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

Walled Gardens

Mobile Advertisers Cry Foul Over iOS5 Changes That Favor Apple’s iAd Network

Every Apple Has Its Thorns

The average user may not have noticed some changes to Apple’s UDID, but with iOS 5 the company has closed off a valuable source of information for independent mobile ad networks. “A lot of people are scrambling to find alternatives,” says Giancarlo Maniaci, the CEO of TapIt. “The UDID allowed people to track what apps a user had installed and give our clients a sense of how well their campaigns were working. Now Apple is the only one who can offer that.” Read More

Location Based

TechStars NY Grad ThinkNear Closes $1.6 M Round with IA and Google Ventures


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.” Read More


Eli Portnoy Debunks the Value of a Harvard MBA

Do not go to there.

Venture capitalist Peter Thiel pushed the debate about whether a college education is worth the student debt past the tipping point–he’d rather pay smart kids $100,000-a-piece to build a start-up–but the argument has taken on a life of its own.

Entrepreneurs have long romanticized the notion of a boot-strapped, self-taught success and held a healthy skepticism over whether a classroom can prepare you for the business world. But Eli Portnoy, a TechStars alum/Harvard MBA and CEO of ThinkNear, a location-based services start-up that helps merchants drive traffic to stores during down periods, takes an updated look at the current landscape.

It’s no longer just a choice between going to college or venturing out on your own. With the proliferation of incubators and accelerators, especially top programs offering a credible alternative, Mr. Portnoy delves into the specifics, outlining the upsides of going to TechStars versus getting a Harvard MBA. His conclusion? Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumors & Acquisitions: Mints and Migrations


We made it through Internet Week, guys!

THINKNEAR GOING FAR. The pre-launch TechStars grad ThinkNear has closed a round of funding, a source tells Betabeat, and is heading out to… Culiver City! We’ve heard of Culver City near L.A., but ThinkNear’s job listings page, which lists openings for four engineers, plainly says Culiver. Anyone know how much they raised, by the way?

LEARNVEST’S BIG ROUND. “We had not given that to TechCrunch by any means,” a slightly harried-sounding PR rep for LearnVest told Betabeat when we called to ask what the heck a content site needs $12 million more dollars for. “Wtf will they do with $19 million,'” a source Gchatted Betabeat. “For a newsletter that says ‘don’t take cabs every day! Use a 401k!'” Speculation is that LearnVest’s long-awaited money manager tool, something with more of the functionality of Mint.com, may be on the horizon. “They were trying to build some tools this time last year, and I think just needed a lot more tech resources,” another source said. Well, LearnVest? “In the next month or so LearnVest is going to be making some pretty big announcements,” the PR rep told us, and wouldn’t say more. Their jobs page is still mostly editorial and sales positions, though, with one opening for a web developer and one for a java coder.  Read More