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Mar 30

Contribution, Community & Mentorship

Posted by: Mark Solon        

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.



9 Responses to “Contribution, Community & Mentorship”

  1. slcaruso says:

    Awesome. Just awesome. So well said. David and all those involved at TechStars have truly left an indelible mark on many lives.

  2. avatar Nicole Glaros says:

    I think we're the lucky ones to have the support of amazing people like you and Hwy12. Cheers to continuing the trend!

  3. we've had a great experience in TechStars so far.

    it really is a stellar program and i'm looking forward to being involved for a long, long time.

  4. it is all quite a change for entrepreneurs….it was a few short years ago it wasnt happening and many many of the great apps and sites wouldnt have made it beyond the idea stage …thanks to all of you !!!

  5. avatar @geoffclapp says:

    Really an outstanding post, and something I've been thinking about a lot, and blogged about earlier today - the importance of community and mentorship, and also lessons I learned from mistakes in the accelerator process. I added a link to your post, really appreciate what you wrote.

    • avatar Mark Solon says:

      Wow, terrific (and thoughtful) post Geoff. Thank you for sharing that. Keep on going!

      • avatar @geoffclapp says:

        Thanks a lot Mark. I added a link back to your post here as well. I appreciate your feedback. Nothing to do but get back to work, but certainly hope I can help the community in the meantime, and we learn from each other. Sounds a little pollyana, but I really believe it. It was great to read your post and see I'm not insane (well, not for THIS reason!).

  6. avatar Bob says:

    If you really believe that budget cuts in education (we spend the most $ for the worst results) and immigration policy (we have thousands of engineers unemployed because H1B hires are cheaper and can't leave) is the reason we're losing our competitive edge, I'll be sure to steer clear of being funded by you :)

    You raise valid points that our education and immigration systems are a mess. Perhaps I am misconstruing your point. I would argue that government intervention is stifling our economy and allocating resources to areas that don't result in useful payoffs (bio-fuels, green-tech). We need an environment that encourages risk and fosters innovation - IMHO :)

    • avatar Mark Solon says:

      Good catch Bob. I agree with you 100% that throwing more dollars at education isn't the answer and I wrote that too quickly without thinking. If you'll let me rephrase it, I would change it to "the challenges we have in righting our education system".

      Not sure I agree with you regarding engineering however. We (and many of our venture colleagues) have seen first hand the impact that our flawed immigration system is having on promising entrepreneurs who want to come here to start companies or stay and work but can't.

      Thanks for keeping me on my toes and helping me clarify my point. Your summary is spot on.

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