TechStars – a new project that I’m involved in – officially launched today. The Daily Camera has a nice article titled TechStars set to rise over Boulder summarizing the basic idea of the project.
About a year ago, David Cohen – a successful entrepreneur, now an active angel investor, and author of ColoradoStartups – approached me about an idea he had about creating a startup bootcamp in Boulder for the summer of 2007. I immediately loved the idea – create an environment for up to about 10 teams / 30 first time founders to start up companies, give them a small amount of financing but support them extensively with an ecosystem of experienced entrepreneurs, have an intensive three month startup period, and see what comes of it. I introduced David to Jared Polis – a close friend and extremely successful entrepreneur – who also loved the idea. We committed quickly to co-found the program with David and his partner in his first business – David Brown.
There are a few other organizations – such as Paul Graham’s Y Combinator – that have done similar things in other parts of the country. David studied each of these projects and talked to some of the folks involved as he crafted the idea for TechStars. Having been through a number of iterations of the idea and plan, I’m very excited about how it has evolved and what we ended up with. For the quick summary, take a look at the FAQ.
In addition to being an amazing place to live (not withstanding the horrible winter we have been having – I promise all the snow will be gone by the time TechStars starts), the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Boulder is awesome. When I moved here (somewhat randomly – I followed Amy – always a wise move for a husband) in 1995, I didn’t expect to do any business here. Imagine my surprise when I found a vibrant and experienced entrepreneurial environment – looking back 11 years later, I can say with confidence that Boulder is one of the top 10 cities in the US to start a tech company.
TechStars brings together many of the best of Boulder’s local entrepreneurs, schools and investors. The mentor list is extensive – people like Kimbal Musk (Me.dium CEO), Mark Sawyer (@Last CEO – now owned by Google), Greg Reinacker (NewsGator founder/CTO), Todd Vernon (Lijit CEO, Raindance founder/CTO), and 20 of their closest entrepreneurial friends will be actively involved in the program. Many of the sessions – which run several times a week from 5/21/07 to 8/16/07 – are organized around these mentors and their experiences.
Each team will get seed funding of up to $15,000. While the seed funding is nice, the real value is the advice, mentoring, and connections provided by TechStars. When I started my first company – Feld Technologies – in 1987, I had a few mentors which I’ve written about in the past. However, the notion of having a summer full of concentrated mentors, surrounded by 20+ other entrepreneurs starting up their own companies, in one of the most beautiful and fun cities on the planet, blows my mind.
If you’re going to do a startup, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Consider applying and get off to a great start. We’d love to spend the summer with you.