Dear Friends and Family,
Can’t believe it has been three months since the start of Techstars. It was fast and relatively painless. Today I am homeless, unemployed and a bit hung over from the after after-party two nights ago. I have been terrible about writing and keeping in touch but here is a quick update about everything.
Techstars came and went very quickly. The months have been a blur having lived, worked, and socialized with many of the same people.
The first month was filled with meetings and mentor sessions for the teams. This is where we shaped the direction for the 10 companies going through the program. Many teams pivoted early and often but eventually found the right direction based on need, market size, and potential.
Month two came and all the companies were off to the races… Many of the mentors from the first month started working with the teams and setup meetings with businesses and industry leaders. This saved the teams’ months of networking and allowed extra resources for product development.
Meanwhile, myself and the other associates were working with teams in categories that fit our specific strengths. I mainly worked with three teams as well as help Techstars host a hiring fair for the companies.
I helped Osper, an educational bank for kids, with their reconciliation, as they are not quite fully operational. It was essentially lot of Excel and moved on from this project quickly.
Peerby, a company out of Amsterdam is a sharing platform that allows neighbors to provide neighbors with tools and items that they may need for the short term. This has been done before but these guys have cracked the sharing economy and have (by far) the best fulfillment rate. Unfortunately, my role was to help them launch in London and after much deliberation they decided to use all their resources to expand further in the Netherlands. It was still a great learning experience.
Lastly, I worked the most with Op3nVoice. They are a cloud platform that enables the extraction of keywords and emotion from audio or video. Their market was highly fragmented and I spent a lot of time researching and connecting them with potential users, both enterprise and individual. I will also be sleeping on their couch for the next couple of weeks; I guess some things never change.
The third month came fast and the CEO’s started to work with acting coaches and some of Techstars pitch experts where they developed their stories to prepare for the final challenge of Techstars, demo day. The event was held at St. James Theater and help 350 members that were mostly angel investors, VC firms, and members of the press. The presenters were phenomenal and people familiar with the program said that our teams and presentation were some of the best they had seen.
Here is some of the press from the day.
It is amazing that so many of us spent the past three months living and breathing this stuff and we were a blip on the radar for a quick minute on the tech scene.
Looking forward, I have a few choices to make from a lot of opportunity. While not 100% finalized, I have agreed to terms with a company that is working in the same building but not a part of Techstars. They are a backend solution for mobile app developers called Quickblox (www.quickblox.com). They are one of the two leaders in a very new market. The first company in the space grew very fast and recently sold to Facebook for $85m. I would be the first full-time business dev guy and will work with the CEO on enterprise sales, account management, and user acquisition with an emphasis on growth and retention. Over this two-month contract we will also formulate plans to open operations in the US, most likely San Francisco where the CEO is from. If I prove capable, I could be in the States by the first of New Year and be running US operations.
I (hopefully) will also be having a very similar conversation with one of the Techstars teams on a similar role.
The third and arguably most fun option would a director position at an emerging Accelerator (very similar to Techstars and run by a few of the same people) in Estonia. I will be flying out for a long weekend next month and hope to set it up so I can cross paths with Cousin Per! It would be intriguing as it is very close to Sweden, English is commonly spoken, and of course a whole new adventure. The program runs three months at a time so there would be plenty of flexibility.
One way or another, I will be returning home in the middle of December for the holidays and can’t wait to see everyone over the holidays. Anyways, if you have read this far I would love to Skype with all of you this week or in the near future J I hope everyone is doing well.