Last night, I was reading the article that appeared in TechCrunch about TechStars raising an additional $8 million for its programs and was reflecting on being a part of the TechStars community. As investors who’ve had a front row seat to the TechStars phenomenon for the last few years (and invested in a handful of TechStars graduates), you’ve heard my partners and I talk about the program as a model for creating a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem outside places like Silicon Valley or Boston.
What struck me while reading the article last night was the comment section. Dozens and dozens of current TechStars entrepreneurs and graduates of the program took the time to comment on what an incredible experience it is/was for them. My favorite comment was John Laramie’s “I’m going to start another company just so I can go back to TechStars.”
I woke this morning thinking about all the incredible entrepreneurs that we’ve met along the way and how their lives have been dramatically impacted as a result of David Cohen’s vision and dedication and Brad Feld believing in David to help make TechStars a reality. I hope David and Brad take a moment to think about magnitude of their contribution to the startup communities in our country. With budget cuts in education and immigration challenges threatening to stifle our position as the world leaders in innovation, contributions like theirs become all the more important.
I believe what sets TechStars apart from all the other incubators and accelerators that have come and gone is the sense of community and mentorship that David and Brad have fostered and maintained. They’ve facilitated lifelong relationships between hundreds of entrepreneurs (with each other and with the mentor network) that transcend traditional business relationships. We see it firsthand in the TechStars companies we’ve financed and it’s nothing short of remarkable. What’s fantastic is that it’s completely repeatable in every community in our country. All it takes is a successful, credible entrepreneur like David willing to be a similar lightning rod in their own community.
Congratulations to David, Brad, Nicole, Andrew, Andy and all the other TechStars folks we’ve met along the way. We’re looking forward to the beginning of 2011’s Boulder class in a few weeks and seeing more of the awesomeness that is TechStars.