October 9, 2017

Techstars Boston - Historical Impact, Future Vision


That is the amount of money raised by companies who have gone through Techstars Boston accelerator program. Twenty-five companies have also been acquired. To say the program has had an impact is surely an understatement.

The Boston program started in 2009, two years after the very first class was held in Boulder, Colorado. Shawn Broderick was the first Managing Director, who led the program for two years before handing things off to Katie Rae and Reed Sturtevant.

It was under Rae and Sturtevant’s watch where two of the classes have gone on to raise over $214,000,000, and have included notable alumni like Localytics, Placester, GrabCAD, PillPack, and many others. 

Semyon Dukach took over the program in 2014, leading four classes before stepping down to start a new VC fund called One Way Ventures, with former Techstars Director Eveline Buchatskiy.

Each Managing Director has held a very high standard with each class, ultimately making Techstars one of the top accelerator programs in the world. 

The torch has now been passed to the program's current Managing Director, Clement Cazalot. Cazalot was the founder of docTrackr – a participant in the 2012 program – which was acquired by Intralinks. Re-joining the Boston program is Aaron O’Hearn, who is a Director leading all the operations of the program. O'Hearn was previously part of the operating team at Techstars, and went on to be the CEO and Co-Founder of the Startup Institute. He recently returned to Boston after spending time with a startup in Austin. 

The new leadership for the Boston cohort also has a new philosophy for the program.

In a piece on Medium, Cazalot discussed the six categories that Techstars Boston is going to focus on for the upcoming accelerator: Financial Technologies, Cybersecurity & Compliance, Cloud Infrastructure, Health & Wellness Technologies, Hardware & IoT, and CleanTech & Real Estate. 

The goal for the current program is to focus on areas where Boston is world-class, and to use the power of Boston’s tech ecosystem to make companies stronger while, simultaneously, making the ecosystem stronger. 

“In 2017, you are not joining an accelerator to raise money anymore. You’re joining the accelerator to become stronger in the long-term at your trade and what you’re doing,” Cazalot explained.

Tips For Getting In

Techstars is only accepting 10 companies to be part of its accelerator this year, in an effort to make the class more impactful. Because the pool is so small, Techstars will be creating a unique class for each entrepreneur in the upcoming accelerator.

If you’re looking to be one of those companies, O’Hearn’s first piece of advice is to be self-aware.

“We’re looking at every interaction with a founder or founding team as kind of a behavioral indicator. So people should remember that we’re evaluating them at every step of the way.”

He adds that another way to differentiate yourself is to have someone recommend you to Techstars, like an alum, or another notable person connected to the program. 

Furthermore, O’Hearn strongly recommends that you be persistent.

“Don’t assume that because we don’t get back to you right away, that we don’t want to hear from you or talk to you. The more that we see you around at events or in the community – and the more persistence we see – the more likely we are to say that we should spend some more time and attention on that person.”

In addition to the above, Cazalot adds the key decision criteria that separates a candidate from the crowd.

“It’s all about the team. It’s all about why you’re passionate about the problem and not the solution. It’s about why you’re the one uniquely designed to solve this problem,” he said. “The lens I look at a candidate through is this: Would I be willing to work for you? Would I be ready to quit everything to work for you? If the answer is not an absolute yes, then it will be difficult.”

Applications close on October 15, so be sure to get yours in if you hope to be one of the lucky few. If you’re accepted, the program begins on January 22, with a concluding Demo Day on April 19. Click here for more information.

Alexander Culafi is a Staff Writer for VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter @culafia.

VentureFizz Location(s):