Notes from the road: Chicago Author: / On: / Categories: News, recruiting tour / no Comments


It’s been a great week with stops so far in Boston and New York City.  In both places, we met with prospective teams for the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator, held panel discussions with Techstars alum and even had the chance to hang out with some mentors for the various programs.

Last night, we settled in at 1871, a 50K square foot co-working space and home to Techstars Chicago.  Inside of this beautiful facility we had the opportunity to hear from 4 alumni, Erik Severinghaus of Simple Relevance, Sharon Schneider of Moxie Jean, Alex Griffiths of Social Crunch and Scott Vold of Fibroblast.  Techstars Chicago MD, Troy Henikoff led the conversation and we heard some of the previous themes pop up around the importance of mentors and getting access to the domain expertise of a large company.

In Chicago, the conversation with the CEO’s started to center around the intensity of the 3 month program and how the very real ticking clock counting down to demo day makes you and your company do amazing things.

Sharon had a very interesting story around her decision to join Techstars.  Her company had received a lot of national press because prior to joining Techstars.  She built a business that centered around a digital exchange for children’s clothing and the media was buzzing, but it had only resulted in a handful of paying subscribers (fewer than 50).  While everyone liked the idea, no one really thought it was for them.  As a mother with young children at home, the intensity of the Techstars program would be difficult but she made it work…coming in really early in the morning, heading home around 5:30 and then working some more on the computer at night after the kids went to bed.

Through this tough time, she went through a transformation.  Sharon came into the program thinking that all she needed was access and scale but in reality her “business was wrong.”  Over the course of three months and with the help of the mentor network she fixed it.  From a handful of paying subscribers to thousands of shipments per month, Techstars changed Sharon and in the process Moxie Jean.

Erik and Alex had very different businesses in very different situations but both came to a similar realization over the three-month period.  They were making small strides in the right direction but Techstars helped them take a few steps back to they could begin taking huge leaps forward.

Erik’s company had revenue coming into the company prior to joining Techstars and he feared that the program would just distract him from what he needed most…more sales.  Erik took the opportunity to take a step back from the day-to-day operations (leaving that work to his small team of employees) and used the time to build himself into a better entrepreneur.  Alex took the opportunity to bring his entire team together, rebuilding the business together.  The sacrifice of some short term revenue loss for a long term gain paid off for them in the end.

One of my favorite comments from the night was an analogy from Scott.  He compared his business to a snow globe and Techstars as someone on the outside who comes along and shakes your business vigorously.  As an entrepreneur, you sit there and see the little pieces of your business floating in the air.  It’s incumbent upon you with the help of the mentors and resources to recognize the good from the bad; building your business bigger and better than it was before…with only 3 months to do that.

The Techstars culture of “Do More Faster” becomes a part of the fabric of the entrepreneurs who are lucky enough to be selected for a program.  Each of the Techstars alum I encountered over the last week told me stories of rapid transformation not only of their business, but of themselves as an entrepreneur…something that reaches far beyond the 3 months of the program.

We’re looking for entrepreneurs who want to experience this kind of change not just in their business and themselves…but transformation of the population through innovations in healthcare technology.  If you have a health technology startup and want to leverage the intensity of Techstars to change your business, yourself and the general health of the world, you’re exactly who we’re looking for….APPLY NOW!

The roadtrip this week has been a blast and we’re making a stop in Sunnyvale, CA next week…join us for the tour or reach out via Twitter to talk 1×1!  That’s all for this week….Kansas City…Kansas City here I come!