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Max Kelly and Techstars making the future heroes

Max is the Managing director at the world’s leading accelerator programme for early-stage startups- TechStars in London. Their mentoring programme is indeed making the future tech stars, Latvian startup Toneboard- just to name one.

When asked about the motivation behind joining Techstars, he says he loves helping startups and after 12 years at Virgin starting up companies, it made sense. First, he started mentoring for Techstars and then got more and more involved until eventually found himself running Techstars London.

The great thing about Techstars is the network and the amazing group of mentors – more than 300 people have asked to be mentors on the program. And finally, the team members who work for Techstars are scattered in many different locations across the globe, so although the core Techstars London team is small, the network is huge.

 

Toneboard was one of the startups selected for the Techstars accelerator in 2017. Martins Vaivars, the Co-founder and CEO shares the impact the 3-month programme had on the company and team itself.

 

“Techstars London was a life-changing (and I do not use this word often) experience for Toneboard and myself personally. It is a 3-month programme where startups receive intense mentoring from leading entrepreneurs and company executives, get access to the global Techstars network, as well as have the opportunity to pitch in the Demo Day in front of Europe’s top angel investors and VCs. The programme is a super tough one – it really tested the resilience of our team and led us to reevaluate key parts of Toneboard audio analytics technology and value proposition. However, we ended up with many friends for life, a solid grounding in key areas like hiring, business development and fundraising, as well as an absolutely incredible network of contacts. I cannot overstate the strength of Techstars network and brand name – our ability to get the right meetings, intros and advice have increased dramatically after Techstars.”

 

To take the most out of the startup opportunities available, including all perks TechChill offers, Martins describes the accelerator application process and things to consider beforehand.

 

“Apply to accelerators! There is no downside to applying. Most accelerators use a standardised F6S application form. Preparing the first application will take a while, but afterwards, it is just a question of small improvements. And do not be discouraged if you do not get in – we got rejected from several accelerators, including in their final selection stages, before finally getting an offer from Techstars. However, once you get in, do your due diligence – talk with several alumni of the accelerator and go to Crunchbase to see how their companies have performed in terms of fundraising and other milestones. There is a real cost for accelerators, both in terms of equity dilution and the opportunity cost of your time. There are 2 things you should think about to make sure the cost is worth it. Firstly, make sure that your accelerator can provide the mentorship you need since many accelerators are doing poorly in this regard. Review the mentor list of the accelerator, make sure that the mentors are credible and that your industry vertical / business type (like fintech or SaaS) is strongly represented. Secondly, make sure that you are at the right stage for an accelerator. If you are too early without any market validation or with loads of technical risk, the accelerator might not help much besides giving obvious pieces of advice and making some intros. Or, if you already have amazing traction with strong revenue/user growth, your time might be too expensive to take part in an accelerator. Good luck!”

 

Source: Digital K.