Fundraising doesn’t come naturally to David Cohen, founder and co-CEO of Techstars. He’s an introverted, shut-up-and-deliver kind of guy, but he’s learned how to leverage his strengths and team to convince hundreds of LPs to invest in the venture capital funds that power the Techstars network. In this episode, he shares his honest and authentic reflections from his unique perspective as an non-natural fundraiser.
We’ve invested in several Techstars graduates and are big believers in the power of the Techstars network. I try to track Techstars’ progress, but it wasn’t until I prepared for this interview that I fully grasped how much David and his team have achieved. Techstars has grown to 43 accelerator programs from LA to Tel Aviv, with focuses from sustainable agriculture to blockchain, and corporate development-focused programs in partnership with companies like Barclays, Amazon, and Comcast. Of the more than 1600 Techstars graduates, over 87% are still active or have been acquired. Graduates have raised over $6 billion in funding and have a market cap of over $17 billion.
With $500 million under management, and portfolio companies like Uber, DigitalOcean, ClassPass and Twilio, it’s VC arm, Techstars Ventures, invests in companies built by Techstars accelerator companies and alumni.
Techstars also hosts Startup Studios, Startup Weekends and Startup Weeks across the globe, and supports underrepresented communities and entrepreneurs through its Techstars Foundation.
For more content from David, check out the recently released second edition of “Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons To Accelerate Your Startup” which he co-authored with Brad Feld. David and Brad also co-host The Give First Podcast. David writes about all things startups on his blog at DavidGCohen.com.
I find that I have to expend three times more energy to feel productive during the holidays. This pattern tends to persist not only during the week of July 4th, but for the entire month of July.
We sourced five startups from our Fund81 VC forum members to present for our June forum. Check out this episode to hear pitches from these incredibly tenacious entrepreneurs.
I have fielded several requests for introductions this week. I like to be helpful, but I also like to be respectful of my network’s time. I'd like to share a few tips for making double opt-in intros easy.
I’ve always thought of myself as someone who has a modern marriage. Three months into this COVID-19 situation, however, I'm starting to feel like I'm stuck in a 1950s sitcom.
In a conversation on my partners Sue and Leah’s Marco Polo Channel this week, I shared that my fear of how my participation may be received given my white privilege has historically kept me on the sidelines of the racial equality conversation. Guest coach Kimberly Smith gave me some great advice.
As a VC, I have the opportunity to build relationships with people who have tremendous resources. I often hesitate to ask my network to support philanthropic causes, because I want to respect our business relationship. After seeing the impact of COVID-19, however, I decided it was time to ask.
I post my most interesting weekly thoughts, coupled with the best of my listening and reading list, and occasional MergeLane portfolio news each Tuesday. Here’s the best of what I’ve read and listened to this week:
I invited Dick Rothkopf, co-founder of Learning Curve International, the manufacturer of the Thomas the Tank Engine toys, to share his thoughts on how to spot big thinkers and big ideas with the propensity to scale, and how to help entrepreneurs think bigger.
During this epidemic, I've been doing more reading, listening, and introspective thinking. In an effort to remember and share some of what I learned, I'm going to start posting my most interesting weekly thoughts + the best of my listening and reading list + occasional MergeLane portfolio news.
Two people I admire recently shared their silver lining in our global COVID-19 pandemic—an excuse to say no to the constant stream of requests for their time. I’ve made great strides in saying no with candor, but it left me wondering: Can I really stop using excuses for my nos?