Over the last few years, it has become increasingly difficult for Boston-based fledgling startups to get a leg up; to get, well . . . started. It’s mind boggling, really. There is so much talent and there are so many good ideas, it’s just been shocking to witness teams and ideas die on the vine. Some of this is about the availability of money, of course, with many New England VCs choosing to invest in larger or later stage deals, but more of it, in my opinion, has been about the environment. While there are some avenues for startup entrepreneurs to get help and advice, they are few and far between and often hard to get access to. Recently, Y Combinator, the last bastion of Boston-area startup aide chose to leave Cambridge for sunnier digs in the Bay Area.
The good news is that TechStars has been planning a move to Boston for the last six months and has just announced that will be in full operation this summer. TechStars has been hugely successful in Boulder. Its success has been because the program is based on mentorship. TechStars has a terrific group of mentors (yeah, including yours truly) that guide, teach, coach and help new entrepreneurs accelerate their ideas into real companies. And, of course, there’s money involved. TechStars invests a small amount of money to kick start each of the companies in the program.
Does it work? Hell yes! Last year, TechStars Boulder’s second year of operation, 393 teams applied for 10 slots. The high number of applications were driven by the success of the companies involved in the program – 12 of the 20 that have been through it have received follow-on funding and 2 of the companies from the first year (2007) have already been acquired. See more here.
TechStars Boston will be managed by Shawn Broderick and backed up by Boulder TechStars co-founders David Cohen and Brad Feld. A long list of Boston-area Mentors has already signed on to participate including, Colin Angle, Dan Bricklin, Don Dodge, Eran Egozy, Chris Heidelberger, Nabeel Hyatt, Warren Katz, John Landry, Rich Levandov, Bijan Sabet, Ronald Schmelzer, Bill Warner and me.
TechStars Boston will be located in Cambridge and is now open for applications for its ten summer 2009 slots. Applications are due by March 21, 2009.