Raising the bar at Techstars Boston 2012

Today was TechStars Boston Demo Day (#tsdemoday).

With what felt like a large proportion of the ecosystem in the room (including all the money), there was a good mix of friendly nerdiness (you know, Boston-style, not too agressive e.g. Ty Danco’s wonderful T-Shirt: “My, what big data you have”), snarky tweets (@brentGrinna: @doctrackr announces 2012 revenue is $150k greater than @instragram #tsdemoday), fun banter (“Hey Fred, I bet your next deal is backing my fifteen year old son”) and real business getting done (e.g. Ubersense accepting Atlas Venture money right before the show).  There was also a moment of sheer emotion when Marshall “Soulful” Jones took to the stage, preceding what was for me the best pitch of the day (Chris at Libboo, stealing the stage even from the mighty Matthieu of Psykosoft).

Overall, what is abundantly clear is that Boston is “leaning in” (QOTD, unattributed).  We need a more agressive, hacker-inspired culture of doing and a more open ecosystem, and Techstars has become an important catalyst for that.

It’s been argued that these huge lovefests are really about presentation over substance.  I am always a bit of a cynic and I would start from the same viewpoint, and given that I am one Techstars’ behind the scenes “pitch doctors”, I am partly to blame.   

But forget for a second the TED / Jobs influenced presentations complete with moving  personal anecdotes and beautifully delivered messages of disruption and vision, what sets this batch apart from any other set of incubatees I have personally seen in the past is how far along they have come on so little money.

Most of these teams already had the “three T’s” of Team, Technology and Traction.  Most have revenues and marquee customers.  Many were talking of scaling.  That’s a very far cry from slideware — these are real companies.  Boston is back, and Techstars is one of the reasons why.  Whatever you think of the great seed experiment, there is no disputing this: Awesome work, Team Project 11.

The bottom line: these are real businesses, and business that you should be backing.  

Final word to tweet Maestro Dharmesh Shah, forever trying to inspire new angels:  “@dharmesh: I am going to invest in at least two #tsdemoday companies. Why? Because I’m a red-blooded capitalist and enjoy making money.”

2012 05 03 09 41 55
2012 05 03 09 41 55


If you want to learn more about the companies, Scott Kirstner has done his usual wonderful insider job and delivers the most complete overview of the companies that presented.  Also at BostInno.

Techstars is for real.  This is a quick update on the class of 2011 and how far they’ve come on Bostinno

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4 Responses to Raising the bar at Techstars Boston 2012

  1. Brent Grinna says:

    awesome post, fred. thanks for all you’ve done to make boston a great place to build a company. 

  2. Tommy Rose says:

    Amazing writing Fred.  I was also great seeing you at the after-after party.  BTW, Boston is “leaning in” is attributable to Bill Warner.

  3. Krishna R says:

    Fred, great post! We are thrilled about building UberSense with Atlas’ backing! You guys rock.

  4. Jake S says:

    Hi Mr. Destin,
    As both a college student and someone who enjoys reading your blog, how should someone my age approach getting into venture capital? Do most people still get into VC through the traditional college –> Wall Street –> MBA –> VC route? I love startups, and wouldn’t mind creating one, except that I don’t have any ideas for one at the moment (and I don’t want to create a startup just for the sake of creating a startup).

    Thank you!