Techstars VC Presents at Meet Our Fund 3, May, 2022
Meet Our Fund is a reverse pitch day where VC funds pitch to an audience of startup founders. MOF 4 was recently hosted by inside.com in October 2022. Four representatives from Techstars speak in this clip:
- John Hill is the a TechStars Evangelist.
- Saba Karim is a Fund Manager for Rising Stars at Techstars.
- Kimberly Smith is the Chief Capital Formation Officer at Techstars.
- Neal Sales-Griffin is the Managing Director at Techstars Chicago. **
In this presentation, you’ll learn about:
- Give First
- Career Advice for Founders
- How To Build a Network Through Techstars
- More Ways to Build a Network
Techstars connects founders with mentors, investors, and other founders. Their goal is to build the largest entrepreneurial network in the world with an ethos of "Give First.” In the startup world, Give First is the pay-it-forward principle that builds strong networks. It means trying to help anyone, especially entrepreneurs, without the expectation of getting anything back. If a founder reaches out to a Techstars founder, they are expected to reply.
Techstar founders practice what they preach. Isaac Saldoona, founder of SendGrid (acquired by Twilio for $3 billion in 2021) shared his founder story on stage in Italy to help the Italian entrepreneurial ecosystem. TJ Parker and Elliot Cohen, founders of Pillpack (acquired by Amazon for $1B in 2018) invited the entire ecosystem of Techstars Boston to their offices to share what it was like to go through the acquisition process. Moisey Uretsky, founder of the 3rd largest cloud-based hosting service in the world DigitalOcean, shared his story of the mental health trials and tribulations founders go through with 30 Techstar accelerators.
Adopting a Give First mentality can help grow a network of generous professionals around you.
Career Advice for Founders
Techstar evangelist John Hill advises entrepreneurs to grow their careers by growing their networks. Here are five of his career tips for founders:
- Build a network before you need it so it’s there when you do.
- If you’re looking for investment, lay the groundwork early.
- If you’re looking to work with an accelerator, start connecting with people who work at the accelerator.
- Build a quality network, not a quantity network. You’ll find success by attending events like Inside’s Meet Our Fund and being engaged with people in environments like this. Surround yourself with people you want to be.
- Have the audacity to dream big. When you see companies go from inspiration to IPO like we do, you see that anything can happen.
How To Build a Network Through Techstars
Techstars supports these strategies through a large menu of programs and resources for founders, entrepreneurs, and communities:
- Founder Catalyst is a 10-week, part-time, early-stage BootCamp, and accelerator programs. They are 3-months long and come with a $120K investment and hands-on mentorship.
- Entrepreneur's Toolkit allows entrepreneurs to learn by doing across 18 topics.
- Community programs include Startup Week, Startup Weekend, Startup Digest, and more.
John emphasizes that founders should feel free to reach out - he and Techstars are always ready to have a conversation.
More Ways to Build a Network
Today’s hybrid work world is full of IRL and virtual opportunities to find and grow your network.
In-person conferences are back in action after a pandemic hiatus. For example, CES was a ghost town in 2022 but buzzing with business again in 2023. In addition to attending conferences, try finding local chapters of national networking organizations like 1 Million Cups or your local chamber of commerce. Find professional organizations specific to your industry or use Meetup.com to find groups that gather around topics or activities of interest. Co-working spaces are great for connecting with professionals, especially if they host networking events like coffee talks or happy hours. Professional mentorship programs like Score can be a good early step prior to an accelerator. Finally, on a less professional and more physical level, the November Project is an energetic worldwide network of free group workouts in a city near you.
Networking is an international game. Social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Signal can seem tired, but everyone’s on them, so take advantage. Platforms that cater more specifically to networking exist too, like lunchclub, hivebrite, and inside.com.
The gap between in-person and virtual networking is being bridged with creative solutions like the Popl digital business cards, but you can DIY similar tools with resources like linktree and free QR code makers.
Put Yourself Out There!
Whether through an accelerator like Techstars, an in-person event like 1 Million Cups, or a networking site like Inside, the essential ingredient to successfully building your network is always the same - you have to commit to putting yourself out there! Go get ‘em.
Interested in attending MeetOurFund 5? Register early here and get free access.