Techstars and Sprint landed on the East Coast yesterday and held an event at the Techstars Boston office in Cambridge. The room was fully stocked with local Boston beers, chips/salsa/guacamole/burritos from Boloco and 50 talented entrepreneurs from the area.
After some initial networking, we sat down with the group and talked about the Sprint Accelerator, Kansas City and of course Mobile Health. I would say the highlight of the evening was hearing from Techstars alumni Sharon Fan of Gestsure and Brent Gilmore of HighFive.
The entrepreneurs in attendance had great questions for these two ranging from questions on funding, what it was like to move across the country for 3 months and what the Techstars accelerator had done for their business.
In one word, both Sharon and Brent agreed that the biggest benefit to the Microsoft and Nike+ programs respectively was access. We use this word a lot in describing how a large corporation can help startups but it was awesome to hear it in their words with tangible examples.
In Gestsure’s case, they entered the Microsoft Kinect Accelerator with a product that worked, had a lot of interest from the surgeons they had approached but lacked a critical step in commercialization…FDA approval. As Sharon put it, there was never more than 2 degrees of separation between their company and any domain expert within Microsoft. When they asked if there was someone who could help them with gaining FDA approval, they were given access to experts who were familiar with the daunting process. Before graduating the program, Gesture had obtained FDA approval and as a side benefit, Microsoft’s PR machine had landed their product inside of publications like CNET, The Wall Street Journal and even on CBS.
For HighFive, Brent described the value in working directly with a large customer in Nike. As a big advertiser, Nike was able to tell him what they saw as valuable in his product and were honest about what they wouldn’t pay for. Getting this feedback early in the process allowed HighFive to shape their product on the fly. In addition to the real-time feedback from a potential customer, HighFive’s time in the Nike+ Accelerator gave them exposure to some of Nike’s closest partners, specifically software giant EA. Brent and team recently announced a large licensing deal that has turned into a regular revenue stream for the company.
We’re excited to bring the same access to the teams selected for the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator. Whether it’s product design/UX, RF engineering, testing, regulatory approval, business modeling, or simply distribution we’re going to give an unfair advantage to 10 teams in the mHealth space.
Next stop, NYC. We’ll be in Chicago Thursday and Sunnyvale next week. If you want to learn more and live in one of these markets come hang out with us.
If you can’t make it to one of the live events, reach out to us on Twitter or APPLY today!