The last two years building and leading the TechStars NYC program have been an incredible time in my life. However, as with most journeys, the time has come for me to move on to the next challenge and take a step back from my day-to-day role as Managing Director of the TechStars NYC program. Today, I am proud to reflect on the community that we have developed and the momentum that the program has. So with a deep level of appreciation for the experience and sense of pride, I have chosen to take this less-active role to focus on starting and building new projects. I will continue to be actively involved in TechStars NYC, as a Co-Founder, investor, mentor, and participant in the company-selection process. I embark on this new path knowing that Techstars NYC stands on a strong foundation and excited and ready to create something new.
We launched TechStars NYC with the goal of enriching the New York City entrepreneurial ecosystem; tapping into the rich resources and energy of NYC and galvanizing the community through mentorship. We selected a small group of outstanding Founders with visions to disrupt whole industries and social norms. I’m extremely impressed with the quality of companies we have backed and the community we’ve created. TechStars NYC is the preeminent accelerator program in NYC with outstanding mentors, superb investors, a fantastic office, and a group of alumni founders building great companies. For any company looking to accelerate, TechStars NYC is the right place to do it.
Over the course of three programs, we funded 36 companies that moved into our office and made incredible product and business progress through their hard work. 34 of those companies are active, and they have raised over $50mm in follow-on capital and employ over 200 people. I am humbled to have worked with so many talented founders and continue to learn a tremendous amount from each and every company. I am looking forward to seeing many of these companies emerge as huge businesses over the next few years.
I am incredibly grateful to David Cohen and Brad Feld for giving me the opportunity to build this program and for their mentorship. I’d also like to express my gratitude to the mentors who have worked with TechStars NYC companies with dedication and genuine enthusiasm. TechStars’ investors, staff, and sponsors have provided tremendous support. A special thank you to Adam Rothenberg, the Director of the TechStars NYC program, who has been with me since day 1 when we opened our doors and started this journey – thank you!
I will continue to angel invest in early stage companies through BoxGroup and am excited to share more about what is next shortly. Stay tuned…
You always hear investors say it’s all about people. Well, it is…
It was just over a year ago that I sat in a dive bar, at 9am, watching the United States play Algeria in the World Cup. That was the game where Landon Donovan scored that amazing goal with like 4 seconds left to lift the US to the next round. Landon’s goal was the second most exciting part of my morning…
See, I was watching the match with these two guys I had met a few nights earlier, when Josh Knowles (now running Pivotal Labs) so kindly introduced us. They were Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci, the founders of GroupMe.
Truth be told, I don’t even recall what we talked about — it was the energy of the conversation that I remember. It was so clear that these guys were for real: the passion, intelligence, maturity (Jared was 23 at the time, now a grownup at 24), and vision all stood out. There was no question I wanted to invest in these guys…
Their story was easy to understand. They met years earlier as fans touring with the Disco Biscuits, a jam band that was started at UPenn, where I went to school, so I knew the band well. Their friendship grew, they knew they wanted to work together one day, and then they jumped at the chance when the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon came to town.
Jared and Steve wanted to be able to communicate with all their friends, quickly, all at once. They jumped in and built the product that they wanted. They were their own super users. They solved their own problem. And they did it with energy, elegance and fun. They were themselves the whole time, and they wore it on their sleeves. They even had a working demo that they used to communicate with investors. That was slick.
What I liked about Jared and Steve was that they were insanely confident yet humbly aware of the challenges, all at the same time. They knew what the product would look like, but more importantly, they knew what the product would feel like. Their intensity was palpable and you wanted to be around them. And they channeled this energy and vision into building a unique culture both in and around their company.
That is why, over the past year they’ve built a world-class team, built a world-class product, and built an amazing syndicate of investors and advisors. It’s been so satisfying being part of it. Congrats to Brandon, Steve, Pat, Jeremy, Cameron, Tara, Ajay,the dude with the long hair, and the rest of the GroupMe team. You worked incredibly hard and built a winning product culture in the heart of NYC. The engineering talent and product culture at GroupMe was a major differentiator in a crowded space.
Today’s good news is particularly sweet for me for another reason — it’s my first exit as an angel investor. What a cool feeling. And it reaffirms that core lesson that everyone repeats, because it’s true: invest in great people. First and foremost. Work with people you like and believe in and who get you revved up. The rest will fall into place. Experiencing this alongside betaworks, Lerer Ventures, First Round Capital, ThriveCapital, SV Angel, Founder Collective, David Cohen, Josh Stylman and Peter Hershberg, and more was awesome.
The partnership with Skype makes a lot of sense, and GroupMe’s future is very bright. I’m thrilled the company will be staying in NYC, continuing to build out its vision of changing the way people communicate and get together. Teaming up with Skype and its 175 million users is an amazing way to achieve this goal.
Great win for the NYC tech scene. And couldn’t have happened to a better group of people.
Geeks as Rock Stars
The New York startup community is overflowing with energy. The is an opportunity for TechStars, a nationally recognized seed stage investment program, to help accelerate the formation and growth of startups in NYC. As an organization focused on identifying, mentoring and sponsoring budding technology teams, TechStars has a proven formula to identify potential and accelerate success. I’m humbled and excited to join TechStars to help launch and run the New York City program.
The impact TechStars can have on the New York startup community is tremendous. Already, we have an amazing group of NYC mentors who have built and run the best New York-based companies. Our city is the perfect home for TechStars, as a native and life-long New Yorker, I am excited be part of an organization that will help new companies become great enterprises in this flourishing and vibrant startup community.
From my own personal perspecive, I’m delighted to work with the mentors, the investors, Brad Feld and especially David Cohen. It is a tremendous honor.
I look forward to engaging the entire community to help in building a core piece of the startup ecosystem in the best city in the world.
Check out the articles for more information:
On Silicon Alley Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/startup-accelerator-techstars-is-coming-to-new-york-city-2010-9
On the TechStars: http://www.techstars.org/nyc/
On Twiter: http://twitter.com/#search?q=techstars
Hello. You are present at the creation, of what, i’m not quite sure…
Ideally I’ll provide a little bit of everything on here. I’m shooting for some funny, some smart, some cool, some deep, some shallow, but mostly it will be an honest sharing of the things I am passionate about: Internet Startups, the NFL and the Giants, competitive Reality TV (I haven’t missed an episode of Survivor… ever), my five-year-old-like Food tastes (chicken fingers and fries), New York City, Cool Technology, Sports, Athletes doing dumb things, Travel, hooded sweatshirts and headbands, Kid Robot and random funny things (and maybe my dog Jones). I will also probably address my dislikes, such as Alex Trebek and Kates Paperie…
I spent way too much time deciding which platform to use, I asked too many people, got too many opinons and enjoyed playing with a variety of platforms. But I’ll be using Tumblr. Being able to blog my thoughts and share my content, as well as share other people’s posts through the platform is a compelling differentiator. But mostly, I chose Tumblr because it is a community (and built in NYC), and I look forward to being part of the Tumblr community…
Over the past 4 years I immersed myself in the New York tech community. I have worked at and invested in (via BoxGroup) amazing companies from the earliest stages, and collaborated with and felt myself energized by so many talented people. Im starting this blog to keep that going and to add to it.
The quality of thinking and genuine desire to help others succeed is so unique to the startup world. We are constantly exposed to ideas, thoughts, arguments, innovations, failures, cultures, markets, big successes, little successes, absolute gamechangers, and more so than anything, a viral passion and energy that runs through the core of the community. You cannot find this in any other career, it is so cool that I get to call this work. Doing this all in New York, as the tech scene continues to explode here, is priceless. I could not be happier.