Raining lightly and rather grey as we arrived into Seattle, it felt like home. The English climate is far more akin to Seattle than to arid Santiago. The Space Tower was bobbing UFO-like along the misty skyline.
Here I will briefly recount the awesome time we had at TechStars for a Day (TS4AD) in Seattle. Coming 10,344 km from Chile was absolutely worth it. Whether we make the final final cut or not, it doesn’t matter. The advice, feedback and encouragement we have been lucky enough to gain here in the last few days have already moved on our thinking and planning in certain key ways. We are racking up a debt of Karma!
The TechStars mantra – Do More Faster – doesn’t quite capture what we want want to do right now. We want to do more at lightening speed. Special thanks to Andy and Kayla and everyone else here for making us feel like part of the extended family and like cousins visiting from afar…
Wed 6th June 2012
So after a rather brief sleep and some last minute preparations, we found ourselves transported into the basement of the TechStars building – where the magic happens… 9.30am and the day got off to a great start with rousing talks from a series of rockstars who we have long wanted to meet. Andy Sacks, Director of TechStars Seattle, got the ball rolling with bold and exciting statements like:
Adrenaline was pumping. Tough questions you could really get your teeth into were popping up here and there. Flashes of excitement when someone got a spark in their eye as you were telling them about your company. We met so many cool teams from all over the US. The candid and inspiring talks made us realise there is nowhere else we would rather be, but equally, just how far we have to go. By the end of the day you really did feel ready to “go to war” with your team as T.A. McCann put it…
We are ready to give anything our absolute best together and were thrilled when one of the mentors – Greg Gottesman, Madrona Ventures – said he *loved* our team video submission – cheers Greg. He also gave a great talk about creating and capturing real value.
For those of you who, like us a year or so ago, were not so well-versed in the intricacies of entrepreneurial programs like TechStars here is a quick low-down. TechStars is a mentor driven seed stage accelerator based in various locations around the US – an entrepreneurial bootcamp – and the success rate for graduating companies is awesome. It was founded in Boulder by the legendary Brad Feld. Now in Seattle alone, 3M was raised at the close of the 2010 program and 10M in 2011, with 2 companies already onto their second round of funding. The phrase ‘mentor-driven’ is a good clue – this program is all about the people.
Later in the day Andy went on to say that during the selection process they look for ‘breakout’ companies – either those which they think will be massively profitable, massively successful and/or will change the world. They are looking for people who will be up to that task.
The most surprising thing Andy said he had found since founding TechStars Seattle was how much he loves it and that it is a privilege to work with the teams. Yet he also said the selection process sucks because inevitably, no matter how hard they try, in the process they miss some great companies and have to turn down some awesome teams.
During the morning, we said hi to Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz. Jonny was delighted – I am pretty sure he loves Rand. I am a huge fan of his TAGFEE philosophies and they helped us start thinking about our own.
Next up come some words of wisdom from Ben Huh the CEO of Cheezburger – what he said really resonated with us:
T.A. McCann then took the floor to tell us his personal story and about how his experiences in sailing relate closely to what he does in his company today. He encouraged us to think hard about our personal stories and how the unique things that we have done in the past will help us succeed and support what we are doing today. Another great piece of advice he also hammered home was to,
We also loved many other things he said, some of which included,
Finally, as a closing anecdote – Keith Smith, CEO of BigDoor Media, said that,
We couldn’t agree more. TS4AD was pretty much all a massive high, but there were ups and downs to give definition to our excitement. Luckily for us we ended on a high. and Jonny nearly choked on his fries when Andy came over after the event to chat to us in the bar and give us more encouragement than we could ever have expected. Whatever happens, we have learned a phenomenal amount.
TechStars Seattle – you rock!