Come say hi at SXSW

If you’re going to be at SXSW and you read my blog, you’re in luck.  We have just a few spots left for the Techstars Party on Saturday night, and I wanted to give you the chance to join in the fun.

RSVP here, and pssst – don’t share it.  It’s for you only!



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!


Random Act of Kindness

I spend a lot of time meeting new people who are interested in becoming Techstars mentors.  Recently, at the end of one of those quick 30 min meetings, the guy I was meeting with, Ben, said to express his gratitude, he’d like to extend his personal Apple Employee Discount to me, giving me 25% off anything in the Apple store (for personal use of course).  Fabulous! I’d been wanting an iPad mini!  So I bought myself one on the spot, enjoying that discount.

Later that evening, I got an email from Apple telling me my order was cancelled because Ben was over his hardware discount quota.  I didn’t think this was a big deal AT ALL, it was overly generous of him to offer in the first place, but he was embarrassed when I told him and he spent too long profusely apologizing.

Two days later, when I got to my office, there was an iPad Mini (the expensive one!) sitting on my desk from Ben.  WTH???  There was no way I could accept a gift like that.  I don’t even buy my husband gifts like that!  When I tried to give it back, Ben basically said he wouldn’t take it back and that it was his ‘random act of kindness’ for the month.  So in an effort to make it right, I donated what is equivalent to a few iPad Minis worth to Impact on Education who provides tablets & training to at-risk youth who are struggling to read.  I can’t tell you how great that felt, just to keep Ben’s kindness going.  So I kept it going…

With friends that owe me money, I ask them to redirect their repayment to one of a few different charities instead (like KanguEFCO, Application Developers AllianceKiva or Impact on Education!)  Almost every time I buy coffee, I also buy a cup for the person behind me.  I’m constantly looking for opportunities for random acts of kindness.  In fact, you were one of the reasons I decided that my TEDx Brooklyn talk was going to be on Giving First.  Which led to discoveries of other generosities including this homeless guy who was rewarded nearly $200K for returning a diamond engagement ring, or this tragic story about the Gruners and their 18 month old son.

So thank you Ben.  The iPad was the smallest of the gifts.  You reminded me how much fun and rewarding it is to surprise and delight people on a regular basis.  Keeping that momentum going is one of my big goals for 2014.

Lean Startup Conference Livestream on Dec 9-10

The lean startup movement has dominated conversations in the startup community since 2011 when Eric Ries presented a methodology for building efficient companies. Terms like “minimum viable product” and “validated learning” have become ubiquitous.

On December 9th and 10th at the Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco, 70 entrepreneurs from the lean startup world will share their founder stories, case studies, and advice for creating and managing successful startups.

If you can’t travel to SF, have no fear. Fuse at the Riverside, a co-working community in Boulder, CO, will be live streaming the Lean Startup Conference for the Boulder startup community.

Stop by Fuse on December 9th and 10th from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm to hear from startups, Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and nonprofits on how they’re integrating lean startup principles into their organizations. Register here, tickets are free.

Whether you’ve drank the lean startup kool-aid or are about to take your first deep dive, the Lean Start Livestream at Fuse is a chance to connect and discover what the lean startup movement is all about.

Karen Nyberg should be mama of the year

Karen Nyberg, a female astronaut, landed back on earth today after 6 months in space.  I saw the news with photos of her reuniting with her preschool aged son Jack.  I don’t know why, but the story really affected me.  I can’t imagine saying yes to a ride on a rocketship with the knowledge that survival rates are low and I might be killed leaving behind 2 small children.  But I can’t imagine saying no to the opportunity either.  I mean, it’s a ROCKETSHIP!  I imagine the decision must have been excruciating for her, and all I can say is Karen, today, you’re my hero.

“How to be a killer CEO” workshop tomorrow, by an amazing CEO!

As part of our efforts to Give First to the New York entrepreneurship community, Alex and I have put together a series of free events for startups.

Tomorrow night, we’re hosting “How to be a Killer CEO” by Techstars Mentor and veteran CEO Matt Blumberg of Returnpath.  He’s also authored the book “Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling your Startup“.  If you’re a CEO of a startup, this is an event you should not miss.  While any CEO can attend, it’s best for startup CEOs that already have product-market fit and are thinking about issues like board management, hiring, competition, financials, and more.

We just opened up additional seats, so please join us, tomorrow, Wednesday the 20th, at 6:30pm.  Click here for more info or to register.

How do you say “Free Translations” in Spanish?

One of my favorite companies, VerbalizeIt, is on a great growth trajectory.  They went through the Techstars program in 2012 and I’ve been impressed with their execution ever since.  Kunal & Ryan are great entrepreneurs and have been fun to watch!

VerbalizeIt provides human translation services (because Google translate really does suck).  Imagine traveling in a foreign country, and just pressing a button on your mobile phone to be connected with a live translator.  The great thing is that they’ve expanded their service offering beyond individuals.  For companies needing translation services, VerbalizeIt is a great option.

If you don’t already have the app, you can download it here.  And for businesses – click here to get 1 month free VerbalizeIt translation!  Muchas Gracias Ryan & Kunal.

Alex Iskold joins Techstars in NYC

I’ve spent the last year working hard (read *blood, sweat and tears*) on Techstars in NYC as Managing Director, and I’ve set in motion a lot of changes to help radically improve our program and ecosystem there.  This includes radical changes to how we run our mentorship program, how we engage with the larger community, things we can do to help the community as a whole bond and gel towards the single goal of making the entrepreneurial community in NYC the best in the world… and others.

But one of my challenges, since Day 1, is that I don’t permanently reside in NYC.  We knew since I joined that my time was temporary, as I have 2 small children and run the Techstars program in Boulder.  I’ve been commuting almost weekly since I joined, and furthermore moved my family out there for 3 months during the last program.

Well today, one of the best changes we’ve made is hiring Alex Iskold, former CEO of GetGlue to join me in NYC.  I’ll be there through the next program again, helping make sure that Alex doesn’t make all the silly mistakes I made my first time through (we are a mentorship driven program after all).  I’ll still be involved during the next 6 months, and will be moving to NYC again for the next program, but I’m transitioning the day to day and long term care and feeding to Alex.

Alex is amazing, he’s been rated one of our top mentors in NYC, he has an insatiable appetite for making this awesome.  I couldn’t be happier to work alongside him and am thrilled at the potential for the future in NYC.


My favorite give first startup this month…

I’ve been working with a startup called – its a site to help crowdfund the prenatal care of mamas in third world countries.  Those mamas are at astronomically high risk rates of death in pregnancy or childbirth, but that risk is radically reduced by simple prenatal care.  Care that costs less than $250.  Because I’m a mom of two, I cannot fathom losing my baby or losing my life in the process.  It’s something I’m clearly passionate about.  And the founder is an amazing entrepreneur out of  She’s working her butt off to save lives of babies and mamas around the world, and I applaud her efforts.

Recently, Brad & Amy Feld donated $1K to in my name because I spent 2 hours out of a morning to help them with a small conference.  Because I took 2 hours out of my day, Amy & Brad made a huge impact at and specifically for this mama, Aspara.  Its another example how a little giving first ends up impacting the community an order of magnitude more.  So thank you Amy & Brad, thank you

Kangu Aspara