Techstars Boulder 2014 ALS Icebucket Challenge to Techstars Austin

Dear Techstars Austin Class of 2014.  Consider yourselves challenged.  That means you have 24 hours to either meet the challenge, or donate to ALS.  In fact, you should just donate anyway. Jason Seats, Brewbot, Burpy, Cloud66, Common Form, Experiment Engine, Fashion Metric, Free Textbooks , LawnStarter, NMRKT, Pivot Freight, & Smart Host!

With Love,

Techstars Boulder 2014

My favorite new research tool – Crunchinator

crunchinatorI’m always looking for a great tool to help me do research into what’s happening in the market.  My latest favorite tool, which launched on Tuesday, is called Crunchinator which takes CrunchBase data and lets you slice and dice it in almost any way you want.

Brought to you by entrepreneur and friend Eric Marcoullier, it’s a great way to narrow down your research time.  Thanks Eric for creating this great tool!

Techstars Boulder 2014 Schedule

And the Techstars Boulder 2014 schedule is out!

The first thing you’ll notice is the dates are very different than normal.  Historically we start in May and end in August, but this year I’ll be in NYC helping our new MD there, Alex Iskold, until June.  So Boulder will start a little later, and end a little later.  Good news is if you come to Boulder early, you can still enjoy some of our fabulous summer before hunkering down for the most amazing/productive/insane/connected/challenging/accelerating experience of your life.

Applications Open: March 17th
Early Application Deadline: April 13th
Final Deadline: May 4th
Program Starts: July 15th
Program Ends: October 10th

Also, I’m doing 15 min open office hours for teams interested in learning more.  Sign yourself up here!

 

Boulder Startup Food Drive

If you’re a startup in Colorado, you’ve got to get in on this.  Our friends at PivotDesk are organizing the first ever Boulder Startup Food Drive.  Startups around can drop off their non-perishables by 11/8 at the Techstars Boulder office.  PivotDesk will deliver those items to Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) to help families in need this holiday season.  So go ahead and donate that SPAM… (you know, the canned kind, not the digital kind).

Help spread the word…

 

Getting Colorado back on its feet

If you’re an entrepreneur or a startup, and want to help get Colorado back on it’s feet after the flood last week, consider donating to EFCO, the Entrepreneur’s Foundation of Colorado.

Many have already joined in, including Foundry Group, GoodApril (recent Techstars grad acquired by Intuit), the Defrag Conference, Silicon Valley Bank, Galvanize, Uber, Techstars, and more.

As a startup, you’re largely supported by your community.  Now’s the time to return the support.

If you’re interested in contributing, donate here, choose “Flood Relief” and dedicate to EFCO, so we can track the impact.

efcologo

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life


Mark wedding

Yesterday was our anniversary and I’ve spent an entire day trying to figure out words that adequately convey how much I love and admire my husband Mark.  Its times like these that I wish I were a poet.

While we’ve only been married for 7 years, we’ve known each other for 16.  We met on a 30 day NOLS course in the mountains in Washington, and every day since our relationship has only gotten stronger.  Mark is my calm and peace, he is my music, he is my 72 and sunny.  He is my energy source, my source of confidence and purpose.  He is an amazing father to our 2 children, he’s sacrificed everything to give me the opportunities I’ve had in life.  I don’t just love him, I respect him, I admire him, I try to be a little more like him every day, and he makes me a better person.

I love you, Happy Anniversary.

Gut wrenching decisions

Yesterday we made final decisions for the next TechStars NYC class.  It was absolutely gut wrenching.  We had over 1700 applications, we narrowed it down to about 40ish, and then picked the final class from there.  It took us FOREVER to decide this round – lots of debates back and forth between myself and Eugene.  There were so many teams we fell in love with, there were so many projects we fell in love with, and I think today I just realized what my least favorite part of my job is.  SAYING NO.  I absolutely hate telling an entrepreneur no, I really want to help all of them.

I take these decisions very seriously – and for those that were not selected for this next class – know that I love what you’re doing, I think you have what it takes.   I deeply and sincerely thank you for your time and energy.  And my best outcome for you (other than landing in another TechStars program!) is that you kick total ass and prove my decision wrong.

While this should be a joyous day for me… looking forward to what the future holds… today I’m going to just be sad and disappointed for a while.

TechStars early application deadline for NYC is today – why you should apply now and not wait

I’m spending about 95% of my waking hours right now on TechStars – reflected so in this blog!  Bare with me as I get through this.

Early application deadline for TechStars NYC is tonight at 11:59:59 ET.  I’ve complied an awesome list of reasons why you should apply TODAY and not wait until the final deadline.

 

TechStars for a Day Opportunity!
Applying by tonight makes you eligible for a TechStars for a Day invite.  TS4AD is a 3 hour min-camp, featuring a handful of awesome speakers, alumni, and mentors.  It lets you get a small glimpse of what TechStars is really like, hopefully you’ll walk away with great feedback on what you’re doing, new ideas on how to think about things, and maybe even a contact or two.  This year’s TS4AD features some amazing people including Ben Lerer, Joel Spolsky, Patrick Keane, David Cohen, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Jay Levy, David Tisch, Ben Siscovick, me, and more.  It’s a power-packed few hours, designed to add value to your startup and let us get to know you better.

I need time to get to know you
The earlier you apply, the more time I can spend on your application, watching your videos, perusing your website, playing with the demo, etc.  25% of our applications come in the last day – and if you do the math, there’s no way humanly possible I can get through them all with any sort of quality.  I end up skimming and skipping – and that’s just not how you want me interacting with your application.

You need time to prove what you’re capable of
If you’re paying attention, you know that an awesome team is our #1 criteria.  One of the critical aspects of the team is selecting a team that knows how to execute like mad.  Execute Execute Execute!  If you apply early, you can prove to us how quickly you can execute.  I remember working with the founders at Orbotix, before they had even conceptualized Sphero.  Every day, they’d show me a new device they built to show off their talents.  So go thee and execute – get your alpha launched, get users, improve your design – show me that you can build this thing you say you can build.  Pro:tip – A little used feature of the application is the ‘update’ capability.  Simply by sending an email to appupdates at notes.accelerato.rs from the email that was used to create the application, you can update it with any progress you’ve made.  I go in frequently and look for which applications have been updated with great stuff.

 

So stop reading this blog post and get your damn application in already!  http://apply.techstars.com

 

 

Working mama challenge #533

Wednesday I flew into and out of Chicago for an investor event (Excelerate Demo Day!).  But working mama challenge #533 almost got the better of me.  My alarm went off at 4am so I could catch a 6am flight.  But we still share a family bed, so my son Jackson decided he wasn’t happy that I was getting up.  I couldn’t spend the time to get him back to sleep because I was riding the line of being incredibly late for my flight.   So I had to get my husband up at 4am to help quiet Jackson to keep him from waking the rest of the house (which included my 2 year old daughter Aleka, my 10 week old niece Lyla, and sister & brother-in-laws Katrina & William).

Now I’m running late.  Very late.  I pull into the parking lot at the airport with 45 minutes till departure.  I sprint through the parking lot to the terminal, in heels, while simultaneously digging for my drivers license.  Of course the security line is long, which only serves to add to my anxiety level.  I get stopped at security because I have an ice pack (I’m still nursing Jackson, therefore I’m pumping, and need to carry a cooler with ice pack when I travel).  I’m already frustrated, mostly with myself for running late, but the TSA guy doesn’t help the situation by saying stupid things like ‘where’s the baby?’ (uh, I wouldn’t have to pump if I had the baby with me) and “good thing your ice pack is still frozen or we’d have to take it from you” (really?  I don’t think so – ice packs melt buddy, it happens, and you’d spoil the milk if you took it, and if you had any clue how much pumping sucks, you would never want to mess with a mama and her pumped breast milk for fear of losing life or limb.)

So after a verbal scuffle with the TSA guy, I arrive at the gate basically as they’re closing the doors to the plane.  At least I made it!

But now that I’m on the plane, I really need to pump before I ruin my only shirt.  And I’m trapped between two beverage carts that are taking forever.  So finally, the flight attendant lets me get up but directs me to the front lavatory.  In the rear of the plane, there are two lavatories, so it goes unnoticed if you take a while.  But at the front, there is only a single lavatory.  I sigh, knowing that people will be waiting for it to free up and it takes me a full 15 minutes to pump, 20 if you include prep time and cleanup time.

So there I am, sitting on the toilet on flight #533, 8 minutes into the pumping (and 7 minutes to go still), and the flight attendant begins to bang on the door.  “Are you okay?” he shouts over the hum of the engine.  “Yes” I reply, hoping he’ll leave me alone.  “Can I get you anything?” he presses.  “Nope, I’m fine, thank you.” I return.  I’m thinking please leave me alone now, embarrassed.  “There are people waiting out here” he pounds.  “I need another 5 minutes” I retort.  “Can you hurry it up?” he continues to push.

At this point in the story, you have to understand how I feel.  I’m sleep deprived, groggy, stressed out, and embarrassed.  But now, I’m pissed because he’s not taking the hint and won’t leave me alone.  “Listen”, I yell.  “I’m pumping breast milk.  Okay?  Your stupid beverage carts trapped people in their seats for over an hour, my boobs started to leak, I’m in my only shirt, I’m headed to a big investor meeting, and I HAVE to finish.  Okay?  Tell the guests I’ll be out momentarily or use the other lavatory”.

Silence from the other side of the door.  “Okay” he says meekly.

When I finally finish and exit the lavatory, he’s still standing there.  I blush.  He blushes, the first passenger in line smirks and avoids my eye contact, and the 2nd passenger in line is a woman and high-fives me.

Great.  Can I just go back into the lavatory and hide until everyone is off the plane please?

So I dedicate this posting, Working Mama Challenge #533 to all mamas that have ever had to pump breast milk on an airplane.

Hanging at Big Boulder Conference

Today I was lucky enough to moderate a panel called Blogs, Comments, Forums and Rich Social Data Gestures for Big Boulder Conference, an event of epic quality organized by Gnip.  I was joined by Mark O’Sullivan from Vanilla Forums, Mike Preuss from Formspring, Ro Gupta of Disqus, and Martin Remy from Automattic.

One of the great things about being a moderator is that you learn a ton about the topic on which you’re moderating.  I learned a lot about community and the value in giving people various ways to express themselves.  Some people like the long blog format – while others just prefer to comment on blogs.  Forums work for many, where there isn’t one dominant voice, rather a chorus of voices that make up a collective interest area.  Some (like me) focus on the 140 character updates via Twitter.  And some people go for the extremely lightweight interactions such as likes and smiley faces to engage in their comunity.  But regardless of your personal communication style, the platforms that exist today have allowed people with similar interests across massive geographic expanses come together. Mark was telling me about a Koren pop artist forum that likes to create user-generated stories about those pop artists, but that many of the users were in the US.  Martin mentioned that the Turks are some of the most vocal in social media. I learned that a share on Facebook goes about twice as far as a share on Twitter, and that people who login with their Facebook accounts are MUCH less likely to be spammers.  And finally that building a business exclusively on Twitter or Facebook can be extremely dangerous – one new feature rollout could literally kill your company.  And that the social data generated by all these services is massively valuable and monatized by companies like Gnip.

At the end of the day, I realized how lucky I am to be a part of a great community both online here and offline in Boulder.  And it was great to meet my fellow panelists and be a part of Big Boulder Conference.

You can read Gnip’s summary of the talk here.