I've seen a number of pitch events, and I have to admit that the caliber of the presentations was really high at the TechStars event this week. Not only were the presentations informative and succinct, the presenters were articulate and personable.
Getting to this level of preparedness of course has a lot to do with the mentoring from David Cohen, who founded TechStars, a pre-seed mentorship program based in Boulder, along with Brad Feld, tech luminary, prolific blogger, angel investor, entrepreneur and co-founder of two venture capital firms, Foundry Group and Mobius Venture Capital.
TechStars has been around since 2006, and about 60% of the 20 companies that it has mentored have received funding. Two of them have been acquired. Socialthing was bought by AOL and Automattic announced its acquisition of IntenseDebate this week.
The Techstars model is pretty clever. Provide a little money and a lot of mentorship for a 5% stake.
The concept was born out of David's frustration of the angel investing process, which is typically - give a little more money and walk away without any real hand in nurturing the startups.
In this video, Brad talks about the Techstars approach, whereby they select 10 teams out of hundreds of applicants for a summer mentorship program in Boulder. TechStars pay $5,000 per founder (up to three founders). For three months the entrepreneurs stay in a 10,000 square foot facility. During that time, TechStars whips them into shape and makes invaluable introductions to executives at Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, etc. For the accomodations in Boulder, mentorship and introduction, TechStars takes its fee of 5%.
Watch Brad share the TechStar story.