Look At Me Now
Real TechStars of New York City
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.
The Real TechStars of New York
This is a guest post from “Hurricane Melanie” Moore, co-founder of Elizabeth & Clarke, a stealth fashion/tech startup in New York. This is a post-mortem on Ms. Moore’s first startup, the high fashion deal site ToVieFor, which was part of the first TechStars class in New York.
As you all know by now, the grim reaper has paid ToVieFor a visit. Sad face. I want to talk a little about the root cause of the closure, in the hopes that others who might be starting a new business do not make the same mistake. Also, some broader industry thoughts below–as I’m sure no one wants to hear me keep yapping about my failed startup for weeks on end.
The reason ToVieFor failed is the same reason almost all businesses fail: we did not build something that people wanted. I know it sounds like a *facepalm* moment, but following the steps of the Lean Startup method in order to discover what people want is so easily said, but so hard to actually do.
Real TechStars of New York
Last week on the premiere of TechStars, the startups got the good news about their golden ticket into the inaugural New York class (more selective than Hahvard, didja hear?). Last night, the reality show’s second episode (you can watch the whole thing here) focused on Lesson One: Humility–as in, it just might behoove you to get some. Fast. One startup picks up $1 million in funding. One startup goes to Hollywood to meet their idol. And we learn that you don’t have to know a whole lot about gaming to throw around the words “gaming mechanics.” Here’s what you missed!
Although the tongue-in-cheek excitement of a reality show that substitutes David Tisch for Heidi Klum and Bloomberg for Bravo was lost on some people, exactly no one in the packed house at Fiddlesticks in the West Village last night seemed to give a hoot. They were too busy watching their friends–and themselves–show up on teevee for the New York tech scene’s illustrious small screen debut.
RRE Ventures footed the bar tab for a breathing-room only crowd that included the grinning founders of TechStars companies like OnSwipe’s Jason Baptiste and Shelby.tv’s Reece Pacheco, along with the usual suspects like GroupMe’s Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht and Aviary’s Alex Taub, and the adorable “Bubby” Tisch, the eldest of the three generations in attendance, who gamely sat near the screen in over-sized glasses watching her grandson getting the f7$%ing bleep bleeped out of him on Bloomberg TV.
Seed Stage Slaughter
E-COMMERCE COMPANY MOVES IN ON CONCRETE JUNGLE. Amazon is building a new team in New York, Betabeat is hearing. Details are vague, but recruiters are reaching out to developers via emails with spelling mistakes.
No, wait! Didn’t Jeff Bezos invest in someone local recently? Someone, someone, who was it? Ohhh, now we remember: Mr. Bezos deigned to gave the local startup scene a boost in the form of a check to General Assembly. Standing on the shoulders of giants!
THE NEW BLACK. We recently wrote that TechStars alum Melanie Moore has officially shuttered her fashion startup ToVieFor for pastures unknown. Last we heard, she was considering two opportunities and would decide in the next few months. Ms. Moore has quietly updated her website, however. “I run an awesome fashion / tech startup called Elizabeth & Clarke in New York City. Though, you might know me from my first company, ToVieFor.”
New York-based ToVieFor, a members-only auction site for women’s luxury goods, has closed up shop after about a year of building the business followed by a spring at TechStars. The site is shuttered, the Twitter account is down, Tumblr is quiet, and co-founder Melanie Moore changed her LinkedIn profile to the past tense. “On the surface, we shut down because we ran out of money,” Ms. Moore said. “However, the root cause of this was a flawed business model. We were attempting to compete solely on price in a world where brands not only do not compete on price, they have essentially formed an oligopoly and set prices (vs take prices). As a result, it was incredibly difficult to convince brands to allow us to change up their pricing structure. And in retail, having those brand partnerships is critical to survival.”