Thursday, May 28, 2015

Seeker Spotlight: The MasterCard Foundation

 

The MasterCard FoundationThe MasterCard Foundation Clients at the Centre Prize is offering US$150,000 to a client-focused financial service provider that best responds to the financial services needs and aspirations of poor people living in developing countries. We caught up with Sumaiya Sajjad, Program Manager, Financial Inclusion, to find out some more about The MasterCard Foundation and what exactly it wants to achieve with this Prize.

 

  1. Could you provide us with some background information about The MasterCard Foundation and in particular its focus on financial inclusion?

Founded in 2006, The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, our work is guided by a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Since the inception of the Foundation, we have committed more than $450 million toward financial inclusion projects, about a third of total Foundation commitments over that time.

  1. What excites you most in the financial inclusion space at the moment, and what are the biggest obstacles the industry is facing?

There are a lot of exciting opportunities in the financial inclusion space, but in the context of this prize, I would like to mention the following.  The space today is open to a range of players and an even wider range of partnership possibilities.  For example, the incredible spread of mobile phones is leading to solutions that are not necessarily spearheaded by traditional players, but instead by technology companies together with financial service providers.  This implies opportunities not just to enhance current products and channels but also to seek alternative pathways to inclusion.

Having said that, one obstacle I see is that while a range of innovative solutions are being implemented in different parts of the world, we may not be fully aware of them.  This results in their inability to scale or receive the necessary attention, and our inability to learn from them. We hope that by hosting this Prize, as well as The MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion, we will be able to highlight some of these innovations, offer them a platform to exchange and debate ideas with like-minded practitioners, and enable them grow further.

  1. Why did you choose crowdsourcing as a means to tackle financial inclusion issues?

While we are aware of many client-centric practices in financial services firms in different parts of the world, we are by no means aware of all of them. When we decided to recognize and reward the firm that best puts “clients at the centre”, we wanted to cast our nets wide. We want to be sure that we recognize the firm that has truly put this philosophy at the core of its decision-making, no matter what size it may be. If it is doing something truly innovative that is advancing financial inclusion for the benefit of poor people in developing countries, we want to hear about it.

  1. Why is the theme ‘clients at the centre’?

Because we believe that, in order to truly change the way financial services organizations think about and interact with poor people, the organizations need to put those clients (current, and future) at the heart and centre of their thinking and decision-making. This goes beyond asking clients what they would like as a product or service; it means adopting a permanent way of doing business where every employee asks her or himself each day: “what more can we do to enable our poorest clients to reach their goals and fulfil their ambitions?”

  1. What exactly is The MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion and why did you decide to invite finalists to present at the 2015 Symposium?

The Symposium is an annual event where about 300 world leaders in financial inclusion come together to learn about latest trends, share experiences, and consider how to drive greater client-centricity among financial services organizations. Attendees come representing financial services providers, mobile network operators, government officials, non-governmental organizations working in this space, and academia. We believe that finalists in this Prize competition would benefit enormously from networking and meeting those kinds of people for a cross-fertilization of good ideas. We also believe it is important to “let the people chose”, hence the idea to “crowd-source” the selection of the first winner of The MasterCard Foundation Clients at the Centre Prize.

  1. Any final words of advice for an organization wanting to enter the Prize?

We’re looking for the organization that is the most client-centric in the world in terms of providing financial products and services that poor people in developing countries find attractive, appropriate, and sustainable. We’re not looking for ideas per se but rather practices where we can see what true client-centricity looks like and how it is being applied for the benefit of the economically disadvantaged.

The post Seeker Spotlight: The MasterCard Foundation appeared first on InnoCentive Blog.



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Introducing the First Class of the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator

Today, we’re pleased to welcome the first class of the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars. These startups are representative of the tremendously talented entrepreneurs creating the future of robotics. In this class, the companies are creating commercial and consumer robots, new robot-enabling technologies, and the infrastructure for a robot powered economy.

Our 2015 class represents seven countries: Greece, Italy, Germany, Canada, Singapore, the UK, and the US–the most international class ever assembled for a US based Techstars accelerator. Two of the startups are homegrown here in San Diego, a testament to the strength of the local robotics ecosystem.

We’re excited to introduce the 2015 class of the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars:

Carbon Robotics out of San Francisco, CA, is a robotic arm company geared towards consumers and mid-sized businesses that combines affordable hardware with an open platform. They are building TOBI, a table top arm targeted at developers.
CleverPet from San Diego, CA, is a technology company dedicated to teaching your pet new behaviors. Founded by a team of cognitive scientists and neuroscientists, CleverPet’s first product is a smart, in-home robot that provides your dog with the daily mental and physical stimulation he or she craves.
CtrlWorks, based in Singapore, is dedicated to transforming any mobile platform into an intelligent robot at an affordable price. Their first robot, Axon, attaches to just about anything and turns it into a fully autonomous robot through cloud navigation and specialized hardware.
Inova Drone, from San Diego, designs and develops advanced, professional unmanned aerial systems for the global commercial market. Their first product is a drone targeted at first responders and search and rescue applications.
Rational Robotics, from Edmonton, Alberta, CA, produces robots that automate the restorative automotive painting process. Utilizing 3D vision and advanced path planning, Rational Robots provide a safe and efficient way to paint cars on the shop floor.
Reach Robotics, from Bristol, UK, is developing Mecha Monsters – the world’s first gaming monster robots. They are controlled via smartphone or tablets and serve to bridge the physical and digital components of the gaming world. Mecha Monsters come with accessories that provide special abilities that make them more powerful.
Skyfront, based in Hoboken, NJ, builds hybrid-electric technology for long endurance drones. Skyfront’s technology extends typical drone flight times up to 10x and enables UAVs to be used for extended commercial applications.
Sky Robotics, from Athens, Greece, is enabling the streamlined, affordable creation of robots. Their OPRA (open platform for robotics applications) is a development platform that combines high-performance modular hardware and intuitive open source software to catalyze the realization of an infinite variety of robots.
Skysense, based in Berlin, Germany, builds and sells charging infrastructure for drones, enabling remote-controlled flights and autonomous missions. Their technology involves a gold plated charging station pad that can be easily scaled depending on the drone and application.
Solenica, out of Rome, IT, makes Lucy – a sleek, sophisticated robot that brings sunlight directly into your home. Powered by solar cells, Lucy follows the sun throughout the day to reflect light into your home or office, creating natural illumination while simultaneously reducing electricity use.

The post Introducing the First Class of the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator appeared first on Techstars.



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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Techstars Experience: Rex Animal Health

What’s it like to go through a Techstars program? Why choose our accelerator program over others?

This is the next post in our blog series, “The Techstars Experience,” with some thoughts from Amado Guloy, Co-Founder and CEO of Rex Animal Health. Rex enables access to animal health data and analytics for pharmaceutical companies and veterinary service providers. Amado and his co-founder, Haven Moore, are part of the Techstars Sprint Accelerator Program 2015 and are getting ready for Demo Day next week!

Here are some highlights from a few of Amado’s posts:

[re: why the network matters]

We have to leverage our networks. We have to help each other. That’s one thing I absolutely love about the Techstars mantra of GIVE FIRST. You have access to an amazing network of over 1500 founders, mentors, and investors. People are willing to give before they get, because that’s what we’re all about. It’s certainly how Rex has gained a ridiculous amount of traction in a such a small amount of time; people have helped us along the way, have given us amazing introductions, and have given us actionable advice on how to grow our business and kick as*.

[re: winning and growth]

The atmosphere at the office isn’t one of competition, but everyone has set goals for themselves and what they want to accomplish so ‘winning’ means accomplishing said goals. It’s a fantastic feeling to know that you’re rooting for the other teams and that they’re rooting for you.

…the past three weeks have felt like three years. I do not think there is any other way that we could have figured out what strategy and market we would be going after in a matter of three weeks without the guidance we have received thus far. As we enter our final week of mentor madness, I am proud to say that the company has grown leaps and bounds over where we were before.

[re: founder fear]

A lot of entrepreneurs end up not doing anything because of fear. They’re scared that they might do the wrong thing when facing a fork in the road. They’re afraid of the potential outcome that could totally rock their assumptions about the market. In the end, entrepreneurs who are scared just end up kicking the can down the road, staying in their happy little comfort zones, and get absolutely nothing done….So how do you get out of the space of intention and into the space of realization? Or in other words, how do you get out of planning phase and actually go out there to get shi* done.

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read more of Amado’s posts here.

Want to apply to Techstars? Check out our Program Schedule.

The post The Techstars Experience: Rex Animal Health appeared first on Techstars.



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Thursday, May 21, 2015

[VIDEO] Where Are They Now? SendGrid & Happiness

Check out the latest “Where Are They Now?” video featuring SendGrid, a Techstars Boulder 2009 alum. SendGrid has developed a cloud based service that eliminates the complexity of sending email, saving time and money, while providing reliable delivery to the inbox.

SendGrid is now sending out as many emails per day as Twitter sends out tweets! Wow.

Learn more about their success post-Techstars, their enormous growth, their extraordinary market opportunity and why happiness is key factor to their success.

The post [VIDEO] Where Are They Now? SendGrid & Happiness appeared first on Techstars.



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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Techstars Experience: Rainbird & 100 Days of Techstars

What’s it like to go through a Techstars program? The program can change your life – but it’s not always pretty.

This is the next post in our blog series,“The Techstars Experience,” with some thoughts from Dom Davis, Co-Founder and CTO of Rainbird, an artificial intelligence platform that automates knowledge-work by unlocking internal expertise and amplifying that value across an organization. Dom and his co-founders completed the Techstars London 2014 Winter program.

This installment of The Techstars Experience is a bit different. Dom blogged (nearly) every day of his 100 days in program. He talks very candidly  not only about the program itself — but the lack of sleep, the food, the exhaustion, the grueling commute, and the demands on his family (his very pregnant wife and a three year old child).

Dom compiled these posts into an ebook called, “100 Days of Techstars.” He gives the blow by blow in personal diary style with a blunt voice and a British twist. It’s a good read…

Check out a few excerpts below and as Dom puts it, “Follow my descent into insanity and find out what it is to be at Techstars for 100 days.

[re: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint]

(day 9)
Mentor meetings in the morning, [extremely] long lunch with a very good friend of mine and colleague who was able to offer some very interesting advice and some possible introductions, back to the office to do a couple of hours work, out by 19:00 with the intention of going home and going pretty much straight to bed.

Didn’t quite manage that as Chris and I started talking about some issues that had been uncovered during the day and then started throwing around some ideas to fix these issues. Next thing you know the notepads are out and diagrams are being drawn. OK, so it’s not exactly high intensity work – and we did range over a number of topics while also cooking and eating dinner – but we still utterly failed in the task of go home, switch off, go to sleep.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the mentality of working every available hour and pushing yourself as hard as you can. That’s great, but you also have to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There are no prizes for being the first to collapse in a crumpled heap before the finish line is even in sight.

[re: The Techstars Clock of Doom]

(day 23)

The Techstars Clock of Doom rolled over to the 70’s today, which is just terrifying. We’re in week 4. We’ve been here 23 days and it just seems that we’re going to get catapulted out the other side of this process way too fast because in some respects it still only feels like we’ve been there a few days.

(day 89)

It’s odd. The ever present Techstars Clock of Doom which has, until now, been instilling a sense of urgency before demo day is now tinged with sadness. Every second it ticks is another second closer to the end. And that sucks. Royally.

[re: Mentorship & Office Hours]

(day 31)

Techstars set up a number of what they call “Office Hours”. Basically a period of time where useful people will be in the office and you can book a quick meeting with them. One of these was with Tony Blank from context.io. I mentioned to Tony that I could do with speaking to someone who knew more about graph databases than I did. Tony pointed me at the CEO of orchestrate.io because they know about databases. The CEO introduced me to their CTO and lead technical guy, and before I know it I’ve got them coming to visit to talk to me.

In the space of a week I’ve gone from clueless to having access to a huge wealth of information on how our approach is going to work, even at scale. This kind of useful introduction, and willingness to help and provide information goes on all the time which is one of the key things that makes this programme so useful for me.

[re: Burden on the family]

(day 49)

Before going to Techstars I researched the hell out of it. One thing that is made abundantly clear is that if you have a family or partner, they are going to suffer. With that in mind I set expectations with my wife to be low. Very low. Like 5 minute video call once a day and back home every other weekend at best low. Unsurprisingly this caused an argument, but not a major one. I was the first to admit I was being horribly selfish, and the hoped for outcome benefits the entire family hugely. We both understand that.

So my heavily pregnant wife is effectively a single mum for 3 months with flying visits from me for 48 hours at a time every two weeks or so. Not insurmountable, many wives have endured that, but not exactly easy either. It seems this departure was the breaking point….

I now get to throw myself into work with no time to think about anything else. My wife has to keep the house and family together for my return. All I can say is that if your partner bears up as well as mine you’re onto a keeper there.

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, download Dom’s full ebook here.

Want to apply to Techstars? Check out our Program Schedule.

The post The Techstars Experience: Rainbird & 100 Days of Techstars appeared first on Techstars.



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RoCKIn2015: the pinnacle of the premier European robotics projects

 

RoCKIn2015: the pinnacle of one of the premier European robotics projects

Figure 1: RoCKIn2014 @Home arena and audience

RoCKIn2015, the second and major competition event in the EU-funded robotics project RoCKIn, will be coming to Lisbon from 21-23 November. The event is open free-of-charge to the public who will get to see state-of-the-art robots autonomously perform challenging tasks in realistic domestic and industrial environments. It will be held at Lisbon’s premier science museum - The Pavilion of Knowledge– which is situated within Parque das Nacoes, one of Lisbon’s most prestigious leisure areas, boasting an array of restaurants, bars, museums and expansive green spaces all within a 5km stretch along the River Tagus.

This final competition aims to go above and beyond the highly successful RoCKIn2014 at Cité de l’espace in Toulouse, which saw teams go head-to-head in the RoCKIn@Work and RoCKIn@Home Challenges, all in front a live audience and strong local media presence.  In RoCKIn@Home, robots helped Granny Annie go about her daily routine by performing tasks such as recognising and responding appropriately to visitors, opening the windows and switching off the lights. In RoCKIn@Work, robots were programmed by their teams to perform various tasks in the construction of a drive axel, including assembling components, performing quality control and interacting with networked devices (e.g. the drilling machine).

Anna Bajart, Project Officer from the European Commission said RoCKIn is a “unique opportunity for young European researchers to meet and to share experience, and for the public who will attend the event to witness how science can contribute to well-being and progress in our daily lives”.

Preparatory camps were held in Eindhoven, Rome and most recently in Peccioli; however the competition is open to new contestants. If you think you have the skills to participate then head over to the RoCKIn website and find out how you can apply!

RoCKIn is committed to ensuring the continued success of Europe’s domestic and industrial robotics industry through benchmarking and competitions. In the near future, robotics technology is likely to be a dominant part of our lives and has the potential to become our most useful asset in supporting the elderly or disabled and helping industry work more efficiently and safely. In the last 20 years, robot competitions have emerged as a powerful means to foster progress in robotics Research and Development (R&D). By combining the scientific rigor and repeatability of experiments with the real-world relevance and spectacle of competitive events, they are able to offer a highly complementary approach to traditional lab-based R&D. Make sure you save the date and join RoCKIn for the final showdown in November to see what the future could have in store for all of us.

Key dates

Deadline for Intention to Participate………………..31 May 2015

Deadline for Applications………………………………….31 August 2015

Decision on Qualified Teams…………………………….08 September 2015

Registration open (qualified teams only)…………..09 – 30 September 2015

The post RoCKIn2015: the pinnacle of the premier European robotics projects appeared first on InnoCentive Blog.



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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jeff Bezos is facing an innovation challenge by going into the space tourism business

Jeff Bezos is facing an innovation challenge by going into the space tourism business

Jeff Bezos is getting into the space tourism business, which is closer than ever to being a reality.

Anyone who knows Jeff Bezos is most famous for having founded Amazon.com, the big online department store that has changed the face of retailing. However, one of his other enterprises is called Blue Origin, a commercial space company. For the past several years, Blue Origin has been testing prototypes of a spacecraft that will eventually take paying customers and payloads on suborbital jaunts from a test facility near Van Horn, Texas.

According to a recent story in Reuters, Blue Origin announced that a crucial part of that spacecraft, the rocket engine, has been completed. The engine, called the BA-3, will be attached to the prototype spacecraft, called New Shepard, which will begin test flights, according to company officials, “Soon.” The plan is to test the vehicle unpiloted dozens of times before it flies with a crew. It will fly to an altitude of 100 kilometers, judged by most to be the edge of space, before landing.

Blue Origin thus joins Virgin Galactic and XCOR in proposing to sell tickets for suborbital jaunts. The New Shepard will be capable of taking three people or a combination of crew and passengers. Unlike the Virgin Galactic and XCOR spacecraft, which will take off and land like airplanes, New Shepard will take off and land vertically.

Eventually, Blue Origin proposes to compete with bigger commercial space firms, such as SpaceX, with an orbital version of New Shepard. For that purpose, it is developing a larger rocket engine, the BA-4, in partnership with United Launch Alliance. An orbital version of New Shepard had been in the running for NASA’s commercial crew program, but was eventually passed over. Blue Origin has vowed to continue developing the spacecraft on its own dime, facing the ultimate innovation challenge of helping to create a brand new industry.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

8 Nuggets of Wisdom from Techstars NYC Alumni

About a month ago, the 12 companies of Techstars NYC 2015 winter class presented at Demo Day. The founders of the graduating companies recently shared their wisdom and insights with Entrepreneur.com. Check out the highlights below and read the full article here.

IMG_5768

NYC Techstars 2015 Winter Class

1. Make more connections
2. Create time for mentors
3. Concentrate on growth
4. Treat mistakes as learning opportunities
5. Take care of all logistical headaches before the program starts
6. Get moving
7. Nail down your source of caffeine
8. Plan ahead

Read more.

The post 8 Nuggets of Wisdom from Techstars NYC Alumni appeared first on Techstars.



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Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Techstars Experience: Remitly’s Story

What is it like to go through a Techstars program? Why choose our accelerator program over others?

This is the fourth post in our blog series,“The Techstars Experience,” with some thoughts from Matt Oppenheimer, Co-Founder and CEO of Remitly, an easy, fast, affordable way to send money online. Matt and his co-founders, Josh Hug and Shivaas Gulati, completed the Techstars Seattle 2011 Fall program.

Here are some highlights from Matt’s post, entitled, “Techstars is a Bargain.”

[re: the network and finding co-founders]

I love the quote, ‘if you’re the smartest guy in the room, you’re in the wrong room.’ You won’t be the smartest guy in the room during Techstars. Also, if you need an intro, it feels like you’re always one degree away from anyone in the world when you’re part of the Techstars network.

“Everyone gets something slightly different out of Techstars. For me, it was the product network. Having come from the banking industry, I had no product experience or network. Even before being accepted to Techstars, the Techstars network connected me to my co-founding engineer (Shivaas Gulati) so we could apply to Techstars and we then met our co-founder and Chief Product Officer (Josh Hug) in the Techstars program. Josh was our lead mentor and, after being co-founder and CEO of Shelfari (acquired by Amazon in 2008), he was looking to start his next company. Any smart founder knows that your team, especially your co-founders, make or break a business. The fact that I met both of my co-founders via Techstars was invaluable.”

[re: on focus & credibility]

  • Focus/momentum: If you really want to grow a business, you need to focus on it 100%. Techstars is a good launch pad to make this leap, if you haven’t already.
  • Credibility: Hundreds and hundreds of applicants, 10 companies. That’s a valuable stamp of approval and startups need that stamp to break through the clutter when raising capital, recruiting, etc.

[re: integrity]

“Knowing the integrity and character of the Techstars leadership team, it was no surprise that they recently announced their “Equity Back Guarantee. Like many great brands (Costco, Nordstrom, etc), Techstars can offer this because they know how much value they’re providing founders who participate in their programs.”

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read Matt’s full post
here.

Want to apply to Techstars? Check out our Program Schedule.

The post The Techstars Experience: Remitly’s Story appeared first on Techstars.



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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RoCKIn2015: the pinnacle of one of the premier European robotics projects

 

RoCKIn2015: the pinnacle of one of the premier European robotics projects

Figure 1: RoCKIn2014 @Home arena and audience

RoCKIn2015, the second and major competition event in the EU-funded robotics project RoCKIn, will be coming to Lisbon from 21-23 November. The event is open free-of-charge to the public who will get to see state-of-the-art robots autonomously perform challenging tasks in realistic domestic and industrial environments. It will be held at Lisbon’s premier science museum - The Pavilion of Knowledge– which is situated within Parque das Nacoes, one of Lisbon’s most prestigious leisure areas, boasting an array of restaurants, bars, museums and expansive green spaces all within a 5km stretch along the River Tagus.

This final competition aims to go above and beyond the highly successful RoCKIn2014 at Cité de l’espace in Toulouse, which saw teams go head-to-head in the RoCKIn@Work and RoCKIn@Home Challenges, all in front a live audience and strong local media presence.  In RoCKIn@Home, robots helped Granny Annie go about her daily routine by performing tasks such as recognising and responding appropriately to visitors, opening the windows and switching off the lights. In RoCKIn@Work, robots were programmed by their teams to perform various tasks in the construction of a drive axel, including assembling components, performing quality control and interacting with networked devices (e.g. the drilling machine).

Anna Bajart, Project Officer from the European Commission said RoCKIn is a “unique opportunity for young European researchers to meet and to share experience, and for the public who will attend the event to witness how science can contribute to well-being and progress in our daily lives”.

Preparatory camps were held in Eindhoven, Rome and most recently in Peccioli; however the competition is open to new contestants. If you think you have the skills to participate then head over to the RoCKIn website and find out how you can apply!

RoCKIn is committed to ensuring the continued success of Europe’s domestic and industrial robotics industry through benchmarking and competitions. In the near future, robotics technology is likely to be a dominant part of our lives and has the potential to become our most useful asset in supporting the elderly or disabled and helping industry work more efficiently and safely. In the last 20 years, robot competitions have emerged as a powerful means to foster progress in robotics Research and Development (R&D). By combining the scientific rigor and repeatability of experiments with the real-world relevance and spectacle of competitive events, they are able to offer a highly complementary approach to traditional lab-based R&D. Make sure you save the date and join RoCKIn for the final showdown in November to see what the future could have in store for all of us.

Key dates

Deadline for Intention to Participate………………..31 May 2015

Deadline for Applications………………………………….31 August 2015

Decision on Qualified Teams…………………………….08 September 2015

Registration open (qualified teams only)…………..09 – 30 September 2015

The post RoCKIn2015: the pinnacle of one of the premier European robotics projects appeared first on InnoCentive Blog.



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[VIDEO] On Unicorns, Prunes and the Rise & Fall of the Corporate Accelerator

Many corporations, when facing the risk of disruption, seek to accelerate innovation by taking cues from the startup world. In this TEDx talk, Lou Kerner, founder of the The Social Internet Fund, focuses on how and why only a small subset of corporations will succeed in this paradigm.

Video highlights:

  • Money spent does not equate to innovation.
  • Average lifespan of a company has dropped by 70% over the last 50 years.
  • M&A is not driving innovation (Clayton Christensen, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”).
  • Corporations are hiring accelerator programs (like Techstars) so they can learn to innovate like startups.

 

Learn more about our programs, including our corporate accelerators, here.

The post [VIDEO] On Unicorns, Prunes and the Rise & Fall of the Corporate Accelerator appeared first on Techstars.



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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

[VIDEO] Where Are They Now? Featuring Kapost

Check out our newest “Where Are They Now?” video featuring Techstars Boulder 2010 alumni, Kapost. Kapost’s Marketing Content Engine provides a proven framework for planning, executing, distributing and optimizing the critical content that drives all of marketing.

Congratulations to Kapost on its announcement today of a $10.25 million funding round! Learn more about their success post-Techstars and how “intellectual honesty” helped them pivot their business model in this new video.

The post [VIDEO] Where Are They Now? Featuring Kapost appeared first on Techstars.



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RoCKIn2015: the pinnacle of one of the premier European robotics projects

 

RoCKIn2015: the pinnacle of one of the premier European robotics projects

Figure 1: RoCKIn2014 @Home arena and audience

RoCKIn2015, the second and major competition event in the EU-funded robotics project RoCKIn, will be coming to Lisbon from 21-23 November. The event is open free-of-charge to the public who will get to see state-of-the-art robots autonomously perform challenging tasks in realistic domestic and industrial environments. It will be held at Lisbon’s premier science museum - The Pavilion of Knowledge– which is situated within Parque das Nacoes, one of Lisbon’s most prestigious leisure areas, boasting an array of restaurants, bars, museums and expansive green spaces all within a 5km stretch along the River Tagus.

This final competition aims to go above and beyond the highly successful RoCKIn2014 at Cité de l’espace in Toulouse, which saw teams go head-to-head in the RoCKIn@Work and RoCKIn@Home Challenges, all in front a live audience and strong local media presence. In RoCKIn@Home, robots helped Granny Annie go about her daily routine by performing tasks such as recognising and responding appropriately to visitors, opening the windows and switching off the lights. In RoCKIn@Work, robots were programmed by their teams to perform various tasks in the construction of a drive axel, including assembling components, performing quality control and interacting with networked devices (e.g. the drilling machine).

Anna Bajart, Project Officer from the European Commission said RoCKIn is a “unique opportunity for young European researchers to meet and to share experience, and for the public who will attend the event to witness how science can contribute to well-being and progress in our daily lives”.

Preparatory camps were held in Eindhoven, Rome and most recently in Peccioli; however the competition is open to new contestants. If you think you have the skills to participate then head over to the RoCKIn website and find out how you can apply!

RoCKIn is committed to ensuring the continued success of Europe’s domestic and industrial robotics industry through benchmarking and competitions. In the near future, robotics technology is likely to be a dominant part of our lives and has the potential to become our most useful asset in supporting the elderly or disabled and helping industry work more efficiently and safely. In the last 20 years, robot competitions have emerged as a powerful means to foster progress in robotics Research and Development (R&D). By combining the scientific rigor and repeatability of experiments with the real-world relevance and spectacle of competitive events, they are able to offer a highly complementary approach to traditional lab-based R&D. Make sure you save the date and join RoCKIn for the final showdown in November to see what the future could have in store for all of us.

Key dates

Deadline for Intention to Participate:…………. 31 May 2015

Deadline for Applications:…………………………  31 August 2015

Decision on Qualified Teams:…………………….. 08 September 2015

Registration open (qualified teams only):……. 09 – 30 September 2015

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McDonald’s, Honda Motor Company and Dana Holding Corporation Join as Partners in Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit

Today we’re excited to announce three new partners in Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit. McDonald’s, Honda Motor Company, and Dana Holding Corporation will join existing partners Ford Motor Company, Magna International and Verizon Telematics to help 10 startup companies drive towards the future of mobility and transportation.

Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit, is a mentorship-driven technology accelerator that will create a Metro Detroit hub for transportation and mobility innovations in downtown Detroit. Its goal is to bring new technologies to market that address the future of movement of people, goods, and services. Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit will run for three years with a new class of 10 companies each year.

In addition to its proven accelerator model, Techstars is bringing its extensive network of mentors, founders and corporations to Detroit to help support the program. Each partner in Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit will also provide executive-level mentorship and support throughout the program and beyond.

To help make a positive impact on the community, Techstars is coordinating efforts across the Detroit entrepreneurial ecosystem. To date, over 200 mentors have signed up to support the incoming class of 10 companies. The response across southeast Michigan has been incredible, as Techstars joins in on the goal of turning Detroit into the future mobility hub of the world.

The ten companies selected for Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit, will be announced on June 4, 2015. The program kicks off June 9, 2015, and concludes with a Demo Day on September 10, 2015 at the Fillmore Theatre where each team will present to investors, industry leaders, and the community at large.

Click here to learn more about Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit.

The post McDonald’s, Honda Motor Company and Dana Holding Corporation Join as Partners in Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit appeared first on Techstars.



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Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Techstars Experience: GameWisp’s Story

What is it like to go through a Techstars program? Why choose our accelerator program over others?

This is the third post in our new blog series, “The Techstars Experience,” with some thoughts from Michael Anderson, Co-Founder and CEO of GameWisp, a platform for gaming video creators and fans to interact around great content. Michael and his co-founders, Aaron Middleton, Andrew Wynans, and Eli Hooten, completed the Techstars Chicago program in 2014.

Here are some highlights from Michael’s post, entitled, “Achievement Unlocked: How Techstars Helped GameWisp Level Up.”

[re: program impact]

Techstars was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It was also one of the most life-changing and rewarding. Why? I’ll put it simply: the entire destiny of our company (and, frankly, my life) changed over the course of a summer. We took a chance on an unexpected opportunity, were able to grind out a ton of new experience, and invested that experience into new and enhanced abilities that made us much more formidable as a business and as business people. We were able to level up our business.”

The speed of the evolution of our business changed dramatically when we were given the time to all think deeply about our market and how we could solve important problems within it. Having the space of mind to focus on the people we were trying to help with our product allowed us to iterate exponentially faster.”

[re: the people]

The most important thing about Techstars from a participant company’s perspective is the people that are a part of the program. When I look back on our time in Techstars Chicago, it was the relationships that made the crucible of Techstars not only survivable and productive, but invaluable and life-changing.”

[re: Working with Techstars]

The rest of the team they built around them was full of incredibly smart, passionate, and helpful individuals. Everyone provides tremendous value to your business. From board members like Sam Yagan, who bring invaluable advice borne out of their experience, to associates and hackstars (like Kunal, Julia, Jon, Ana, Brendon, and more) who help and guide you through the day to day craziness.

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read Michael’s entire post here.

Want to apply to Techstars? Check out our Program Schedule.

The post The Techstars Experience: GameWisp’s Story appeared first on Techstars.



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Monday, May 4, 2015

Techstars at Collision Conference this Week

If you’re at Collision Conference this week in Las Vegas, check out our Managing Directors in Workshops and a Panel discussion.

We will be hosting Workshops from four Techstars Managing Directors (Nicole Glaros, Ryan Kuder, Cody Simms and Blake Yeager) who will be covering the topics outlined below and then wrapping up with an open Q&A session where you can ask them anything related to entrepreneurship, accelerators, fundraising, startups, the program and more:

Tuesday, May 5 from 10-4 in the Startup Workshop Studio in Pavilion 2.

  • 10-11 a.m.: Blake Yeager on Innovation and Cloud Startups
  • 11-12 p.m.: Ryan Kuder on Trends in Robotics Startups
  • 12-1 p.m.: Lunch
  • 1-2 p.m.: Cody Simms on Startups and Hollywood
  • 2-3 p.m.: Nicole Glaros on How to Pitch
  • 3-4 p.m.: Ask Me Anything Panel with all MDs

On Wednesday, May 6 at Noon on the Startup University Stage, be sure to catch Nicole Glaros as part of the following panel discussion:

12:05 – 12:25 p.m. The Evolution of Choosing Your Workforce

  • Vivek Ravisankar, HackerRank
  • Nicole Glaros, Techstars
  • Mikal E. Belicove, Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Amanda Kahlow, 6Sense

The post Techstars at Collision Conference this Week appeared first on Techstars.



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Friday, May 1, 2015

Apply to the Techstars New York City 2015 Fall Program

We are delighted to open the applications for our Fall 2015 Techstars class in New York City!

The application deadline is June 28th, and the class will kick-off end of September, finishing off with Demo Day in December.

Techstars NYC Fall 2015 Recruiting Calendar

Below is the calendar of our recruiting events. We want to meet with you, tell you more about the program, and discuss how Techstars NYC can help you accelerate your business. Here is how you can connect with us:

Twitter: Hey, @techstars @alexiskold I’d love to get feedback on our business.

Live casts: Ask Techstars NYC livecast. Connect with us on Wed at 6:30PM during these dates: 4/29, 5/6, 5/13, 5/20, 5/27, 6/3, 6/10, 6/17, 6/24, and also 6/27, 6/28.

Calendar: All events are in this Google calendar.

May 1:    Applications Open

May 5-8:    Techstars NYC in Stockholm (confirmed)

May 14-15: Techstars NYC in Amsterdam (tentative)

May 20: Techstars NYC in Croatia (confirmed)

June 2: Techstars NYC in Los Angeles (tentative)

June 9: Open House (will be Live streamed)

June 28: Applications Close

 

Techstars NYC Updates

To date, we’ve done six programs in NYC and have 100 Techstars companies based in NYC. We just graduated a great group of companies, and our most technical one to date. Here are blog posts about them: Techstars Winter 2015, 7 Innovations from Techstars NYC and a Full Demo Day  Recap.

In 2014 fifty Techstars companies in NYC have collective raise over $180MM in funding. ClassPass is a Techstars graduate and one of the fastest growing Techstars companies in NYC. Here is a video ClassPass CEO, Payal Kadakia, addressing the attendees at the latest Demo Day.

Why Apply?

We have written about Top 10 Reasons to Join (or not Join) an Accelerator. In addition, here are the things that are particularly great about the Techstars NYC program:

  1. You get AMAZING mentors

You will have access to NYC founders and CEOs, top angel investors, venture capitalists, as well as amazing mentors with background in product, engineering, marketing and finance.

  1. You really grow & accelerate your business

The program is rigorous and metrics driven. We help the companies make tangible progress and help grow & accelerate their business. Our approach is based on numbers, because numbers and facts are a lot more fundable than just stories (we love stories too, but we love stories with numbers more).

  1. You get a network for life

Techstars is not just a 13 week intensive program. It is one of the largest and fastest growing networks of entrepreneurs around the world.  Once you are a Techstar, you are a Techstar for life, and you get to be part of the network that helps you go faster and accelerate your current and future businesses.

  1.  You are at the center of NYC tech scene

New York has become a great place to build a startup. We have a ton of smart business people, engineers, entrepreneurs, executives, and investors who are working together to create valuable and lasting companies in NYC. By joining our next program you put yourself at the center of it all – literally, our brand new 13,000 SQ FT space is overlooking Times Square and the Empire State Building.

We are calling on all passionate entrepreneurs with big vision and focus on execution. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to apply. We particularly look forward to seeing companies building unique, interesting technologies and companies with revenue and real traction.

The post Apply to the Techstars New York City 2015 Fall Program appeared first on Techstars.



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