Become a diversity leader in tech

Techstars and Chase for Business just launched a new project who’s goal is to increase diversity in tech. With over 700 founders of tech startups surveyed, we posted data, resources, an infographic and more on how you can become a leader.  And because reading about diversity isn’t nearly as good as taking steps on becoming a diverse company, there are great actionable and tactical things you can do to become a more diverse and inclusive tech startup.

Check it out!

 

 

A perfect summer weekend in Boulder, CO

I was recently asked by a founder, who was interested in moving to Boulder, what should he do and see while here to get a feeling for the town?

I came up with this list.  If you have other suggestions for how to spend a perfect weekend in Boulder, let’s hear them!

Hike Sanitas,  it’s a classic. Hike up the western side trail for a great workout.  Come down either the valley trail or the dakota ridge (east) side.
Any hike in Chautauqua is a winner, but hiking the 1st and 2nd Flatiron will give you views of the continental divide.
Go take a picnic lunch to the lawn at Chautauqua.
Have tea at the Dushanbe tea house, even if tea isn’t your thing.
Go rent a tube and float down the Boulder Creek Path (don’t do this if the water is raging!)
Or rent a city bike and bike down the Boulder Creek Path.
Or rent a mountain bike and check out the Valmont bike park.
Check out the Farmers Market on Saturday from 8am-2pm.
Have breakfast at Lucile’s (order the biegnets) and Snooze.
Have a margarita (or two) on the rooftop deck at The Rio, but DO NOT have 3. You will not be able to walk out of there. Skip the food.
Have a sunset drink at The Flagstaff House, the views are spectacular.
Eat at Pizzeria Locale, T*aco, The Kitchen and/or the Kitchen Nextdoor, and Frasca. Frasca is spendy but worth it!
Rent a standup paddleboard at the Boulder Reservoir.
Drive out to Red Rocks in Morrison, and hike around. Or go see a show there this weekend.

Good investors will be on your side

Last week I had a conversation with one of my portfolio companies, one I hadn’t spoken to in a while.  He wasn’t great at communicating over time, and honestly, neither was I.

When I asked him how it was going, he broke down in tears and unleashed a torrent of issues on me.  The biggest issue was the death of a loved one which was traumatizing to him, causing him to evaluate his own life, and deciding that being the CEO of his company wasn’t where his heart was anymore.  But there were a series of other issues that had been going on for a while, including some operational mistakes, and some fighting with one of his other key investors.

We spent a long time talking about possible solutions for the businesses (hire a new CEO, sell the business, etc).  We also spent a lot of time digging into why he felt that his heart wasn’t in it – he felt that he was in over his head (most entrepreneurs I know feel this way).  We talked about possible solutions for him, individually to find peace.  By the end of our conversation, he expressed remorse at not coming to me sooner.  He was afraid of how I would judge him.  Yet he was relieved when all I did was support him.  I gave him some guidance on how to talk to the investor he was fighting with – which was basically just be honest, open, and vulnerable.  This founder left my office, headed straight for that investor’s office, had that difficult conversation, the result being the investor is now trying to help the CEO navigate this tough time.  The CEO turned an antagonistic relationship around.

I see this behavior happen often, where CEOs are afraid to come to their investors.  Maybe they’re afraid of being judged, or what the investor will say, or developing tension and friction in the relationship.  But any experienced early-stage investor will tell you that bad stuff can, and will, happen to your company.  We don’t think the world is perfect.  In fact many angel investors get involved just so they can help entrepreneurs figure out problems.  But hiding issues, or glossing over them, not communicating with your investors about what’s working (so we can celebrate with you!) and what’s not working (so we can help you figure out how to solve it) is detrimental to your startup.  We’re on the same team as you, we want what’s best for your startup.   If you find yourself in an antagonistic relationship with one of your investors, you should be asking yourself a) in what way am I contributing to this relationship being antagonistic, and b) did I do enough homework on this investor to know if they have a pattern of bad behavior with an entrepreneur.  Notice that both the subjects there are you, the CEO.  Not the investor.

The earlier we’re brought in the circle of trust, the earlier we can help fix what’s wrong.  Being honest, open, authentic, and vulnerable with your investors is an advanced skill that every entrepreneur should learn.   Communicating regularly with your investors about the highs and lows is a reflection of how open you’re being.  It could just mean the difference between success and failure of your startup.

 

upandtechstars

Techstars and UP Global (aka Startup Weekend) UNITE!

Today, Techstars announced that we have acquired UP Global, which includes Startup Weekend, Startup Week, Startup Digest, and Startup Next.  But acquired isn’t really the right word.  It’s more like merge.  Or join forces. Or unite.  Or, REUNITE.  Like twins, separated at birth.

Techstars and Startup Weekend share early beginnings.  The idea was borne of Andrew Hyde, right in the Techstars offices with David Cohen.  The first Techstars class participated in the event, along with 70 other amazing Boulder individuals.  Since then, Startup Weekend has blossomed into other programs (like Startup Week and Startup Next).  With thousands of events in over 600 cities in 120 countries and 6 continents, UP Global has brought entrepreneurial access to the ground level.

Since then, Techstars has also grown.  Over 600 companies have gone through 18 programs across 13 cities.  They have collectively raised over $1.5B in capital, and are valued at over $50B in market cap.  Techstars Ventures has $300M in capital under management.  Our secret weapon; our network of mentors, alumni, investors, and corporate partners, continues to grow and strengthen by the day.

By joining forces, Techstars and UP Global can accelerate the pace of innovation by strengthening the path for entrepreneurs, providing better support for entrepreneurial communities, and helping to grow the worldwide entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The UP Global programs will continue to run as community events (and will keep their name)- we aren’t touching something that isn’t broken!  And Techstars programs will continue to run as they have.  Just a lot more collaboration between programs.

Join me in welcoming the UP Global team to the Techstars family!

 

Fundraiser for Calone For Congress

I met David Calone back when I first started at Techstars.  He has been a longtime supporter, mentor, and investor of the Boulder Techstars program for the last 7 years.  He’s a friend to investor, entrepreneur, and tech alike, and now he’s running for Congress representing Long Island, NY.

I’m really proud of David, not just for the impact he’s had at Techstars, but he has also been a leader in advocating for federal policies that would support the formation of more early-stage companies – including helping to create the Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship as well as Start-Up Day Across America. He currently serves as the Board Chair of “Patriot Bootcamp powered by Techstars” – which helps veterans and active duty service members get started as tech entrepreneurs. He also heads the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund, which helps provide initial funding to early stage technology companies emerging from Long Island’s research labs. Dave has long been involved in public service, including currently serving at the chair of the Suffolk County Planning Commission (where he has been nationally recognized for his regulatory reform work) and previously serving as a federal prosecutor where he helped prosecute cases focusing on international economic crime and terrorism.  We need more people like David in DC!

On Friday, June 12th at 4:30, I’m co-hosting a happy hour fundraiser to help David win that Congressional seat.  If you’d like to join, tickets are $100 and you can RSVP to laura@caloneforcongress.com,  You can also donate to his campaign directly at caloneforcongress.com

Techstars Boulder applications are now open!

I’m well rested after a long sabbatical and ready to tackle 2015!  And no way to bring in the new year by opening applications for Techstars in Boulder.

So if you’re interested in applying to Techstars in Boulder – here are some important dates you need to know:

Jan 5th – Applications open.  Apply now!
March 15th – Application Deadline
June 15th – Program Starts
Sept 11th – Program Ends

I’m excited to see what the new year brings.

NewCo Boulder: Open House Tour of Innovative Companies in Boulder

Forget those business conferences with long speeches and boring panel discussions. On Nov 18 (new date!), Boulder’s most innovative businesses will open their doors to the public to celebrate Boulder companies who drive the networked economy. NewCo Boulder is a city-wide event that takes you right into the corporate offices of 35 of the most innovative and successful companies around Boulder, offering attendees a tour rather than a company description packet.

At NewCo, attendees will sign up for a free pass to visit any of the participating organizations, from software companies, to restaurants, to non-profits and more. During the event attendees will check out the offices of the some of the most interesting and inventive companies around the city and take part in an interactive presentation about what each organization is doing to make an impact on the global landscape.

I am proud to serve on the Board of Advisors along side Kimbal Musk, Jane Miller, Brad Feld, Seth Levine, Larry Gold, Walter Knapp, and Sean Maher. Boulder’s NewCo team, Rich Maloy and Tim O’Shea, have pulled together an impressive group of organizations across a wide range of industries in the community.

It’s an opportunity to see what Boulder businesses are doing and where it actually takes place: offices, breweries, bakeries etc.  Attendees can learn from their strategies and executions, gain some insights from their successes, maybe even drop off a business card or resume. The event is open to everyone and it’s free for the Boulder community.

For more information on NewCo Boulder including the companies participating, please visit: http://bdr.newco.co

Have questions about NewCo Boulder 2014? Contact Rich Maloy, Engage Colorado: rich@engagecolorado.com

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!