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May 30 / Vivi

Two more weeks of TechStars NYC to go, it was all amazing

I’m not easily impressed, and I must say that being in TechStars for the past two and a half months has been amazing.

As I came in, my expectations were that I would build up a network. I thought that I will have a chance to meet some of the amazing mentors that come to the NYC office and start building a relationship with them.

I was wrong and my expectations were entirely unrealistic, but what I got out of it was so much more than I was expecting. :-)

I spent three months in the same room with some amazing people
The companies that are part of the class were carefully selected from 1400 applications. The people that formed these companies are all top notch in their own ways, so being able to get their feedback, see how they look at the world, iterate with them on my own product ideas and my own thoughts has been an unrepeatable experience.

There is no way outside of this setup to be around so many good people for so long, all startup focused and knee deep in the every day reality of building a company.

Helping out companies means stronger relationships
It’s one thing to build a relationship with somebody through casual encounters, and another thing to spend a few weeks side by side helping them out, actually delivering work, making useful contributions, letting them get to know you.

The quality of the relationships that I’ve built out of these three months exceeds the quality of any other business relationships I’ve had, and I think I’ve even gotten a few friends out of this too.

Being able to intercept David and Adam whenever I could: priceless
Priceless doesn’t make this perk justice. You try to get office hours with these two and then we’ll talk. :-) To be able to stalk them around the office and ask them for opinions is a perk that makes me want to be a hackstar in the next TechStars class too. And the one after that.

Optimized for serendipity
Lots of people come by the TechStars office. LOTS. And that means that you’re really exposing yourself to a lot of serendipity. That’s how I found one investor that I really connected to, and that’s how I built a relationship with one of the mentors of one of my favorite companies.

Being around, hanging out, paying attention and making yourself available can end up with some pretty cool connections.

The conclusion?
I would do this all over again with no hesitation whatsoever.

I guess it really depends on what you’re looking for, but for me, a startup founder in the very very early stage, looking to iterate on his ideas and create some relationships, it’s been the best thing that I could have done.


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  1. Clare / May 30 2012

    Love this post, Vivi. So glad I got to meet you.

  2. Claudiu Constantin / May 30 2012

    Any future plans after having this experience? :)

  3. Kyle Porter / May 30 2012

    Great post Vivi…& we love our Hackstars. Any suggestions for TS founders on best ways to work with you all?

    • Vivi / May 30 2012

      Well, here are some tips that work for me:

      + Don’t make the HackStars feel like you are just using them for boring tasks that need to get done. Cleaning code, building that profile page that nobody wants to do… nobody wants to feel like they are doing bitch work, so they just won’t work with you.

      + Make sure you understand what makes each HackStar tick. For me there are a few situations that make me tick: getting excited about a cool feature, helping when I’m really really needed and being involved in the company as a team member. Figure out how your company can offer the HackStar what makes him tick. And here’s the first exception to the previous rule: if there are certain things that are critical for you and you desperately need, I will do bitch work and I’ll do that work that nobody wants to do.

      + Court the hackstar. Wants to be in mentor meetings? Make sure you invite him/her to meetings. Wants to sit in team meetings? Do it.

      + If they really want to work on something specific, let them do that, or really explain why that doesn’t make sense for your company.

      At the end of the day the hackstars are offering free work and have 10+ companies to chose from. If you understand that, you’ll know how to work with them. :-)

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