Dec 16 2014

Two New Techstars Programs – Mobility/Detroit and Techstars++/Mayo Clinic

I’m fascinated with Detroit. When I was there in October 2012 with my partners Ryan and Jason to run the Detroit Marathon we talked about the idea of getting more involved there in some way. Jason grew up in Detroit and has lots of stories there. He goes back regularly to visit his parents and Ann Arbor where he went to school.

Since we were there, I’ve read a few books on Detroit and many articles that popped up about it’s downfall along with some of the entrepreneurial activities trying to revive the city. My partners and I believe that Detroit hit rock bottom around 2012 and in a decade has the potential to be an amazing city once again.

So, Jason and I started talking more about things we could do to positively impact the Detroit startup community and looped the Techstars gang into the conversation.

David Cohen, David Brown, and the team at Techstars grabbed it and ran with it. Last week Techstars announced the new Techstars Mobility program, Driven by Detroit. The local Detroit startup community engaged very powerfully in the idea. From the post about it:

“Throughout the development of the Techstars Mobility program, Techstars worked with Detroit based venture capital firms Fontinalis Partners, Detroit Venture Partners and Renaissance Venture Capital to recruit mentors and ensure capital was ready to deploy in the region. Many other venture firms have also contacted Techstars communicating their interest in bringing capital to Detroit.

Techstars will be bringing their proven accelerator model and extensive network of mentors, founders and corporations to Detroit to support this program. Techstars will also coordinate efforts across the Detroit entrepreneurial ecosystem as a member of the Detroit Technology Exchange (DTX), ensuring that Techstars can have a positive impact across the entire community. Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit will run for three years with a new class of 10 startups each year.

Several years ago I met Ted Serbinski. Three years ago he moved from San Francisco to Detroit to help rebuild the city. In his words:

“Ten years from now, San Francisco will be just as good as it is today. But in ten years, Detroit will be a roaring city once again, defining a new technology hub at the intersection of muscle and brains. Where do you want to be in ten years? Status quo? Or one of the heroes that rebuilt a city?”

I think Ted is awesome and it’s super exciting to have him join Techstars as the Managing Director of Techstars Mobility. He’s written a great story about how it came together and why it is so powerful at Joining Techstars in Detroit.

My partners and I at Foundry Group – especially Jason – will be playing a role in this new program. Also, expect something really fun from us in the next six months. Hint – it’s something we’ve done before that I’m not sure any other VC firm has ever done – at least not that I’m aware of.

And – if you missed it, Techstars also launched a new program with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota called Techstars++ with the Mayo Clinic. Look for a bunch of new Techstars++ programs coming, along with lots of interesting new startup communities in our future.