TechStars London Busman’s Holiday, summer 2013!

Definition: Busman's Holiday - a break, holiday or vacation during which you engage in activity that is similar to your usual work. Summer is almost here and you might be planning a vacation or overseas trip. As an alternative this year, why not take a Busman's Holiday to TechStars London? We would like to invite mentors and alumni from across the entire TechStars network to our new shiny office in TechCity London. We will provide you with a free desk and facilities - to allow you to do the same job but with a different view. Our London home is Warner Yard, a brand new co-workspace founded by one of the TechStars London investors Federico Pirzio-Biroli from Playfair Capital. The four-story space will be buzzing with over 150 desks – which will include TechStars London, awesome startups, an event space, and angels and early stage funds who have already claimed their desks. Our only ask is come and mentor some of the teams while you are in London and meet some of the movers and shakers from the London scene. Fish and chips, double decker buses, and sampling local pubs are of course optional add-ons. Alongside the TechStars team, who will be spending time in London this summer, we have already received commitments from David Mandell of PivotDesk and Albert Wenger from Union Square Ventures. I'll be spending all of July there myself, so if you're an experienced entrepreneur of current TechStars mentor or alumnus, we'd love to have you join on the Busman's holiday this summer! TechStars London will kick off July 2, ending September 27 with an awesome Investor Day. If you are interested in helping out - just contact me and I'll connect you with Jon Bradford, our Managing Director in London - to reserve your desk. Or if you know of any awesome startups, do not hesitate to recommend them to apply now to TechStars London. Hurry, because applications close this weekend on May 5th!

To Mecca and Back Again

Ethan Austin of GiveForward wrote a great blog post about moving to the SF Bay Area and then back to Chicago and all of the issues he and the company were grappling with. It's a fantastic work/life balance story that is worth a quick read.

Introducing TechStars London

Today is a big day for TechStars. With the announcement of TechStars London, we are taking a first step outside of the United States.
[caption id="attachment_4032" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Thanks to Bright Move Media for taking us all around London! brightmovemedia.com  [/caption]
We've always been cautious with our growth, always prioritizing quality over quantity. We have great programs in the US that are well respected, and have built an incredible network of hands-on mentors and alumni. We've learned that the most important thing when entering a new location is to ensure that the quality of the person running the program (we call it the Managing Director), their team, and the mentors is exceptionally high. We found that in London in Jon Bradford. The reality is that we found it some time ago. I first met Jon about three years ago when he was launching The Difference Engine in Newcastle. I went there to help him understand how to build a high quality mentorship-driven accelerator. We spent a few days talking about the philosophy of giving first, and about the powerful motivation of building startup communities. It was immediately obvious that we were culturally and philosophically aligned. Jon put the startups first in every thought he had. Because of this, we kept in touch over the years. We compared notes and tried to help each other. Each time I would come to the UK we'd get together, and it was the same when Jon visited the US. Fast forward a few years and Jon had moved to London and built Springboard. In London, Jon had more "raw material" in the form of experienced mentors and startup talent. More and more interesting companies started to emerge. Jon continued to give back to startups by co-founding f6s which has since grown into a very large and useful social network for startup founders. After one of Brad Feld's trips to Springboard, Jon encouraged and contributed to the Mentor Manifesto. Meanwhile, TechStars in the US had funded some fantastic companies such as Memrise (from London, $6M in venture funding), GrabCAD (Estonia, $12M in venture funding), and DocTrackr (Paris, $2M in venture funding) so we also became more familiar with the great talent that TechStars London could tap into. Then in September of last year when I visited Jon in London again, it was very clear to me that something had changed there. It just felt different. Better. Google Campus was teeming with startups that were thinking big. The Tech City branding had attracted more talented and provided visibility to what was happening in London. Big companies were starting to help the little companies. The community was showing all of the early signs that form the Boulder Thesis in Brad Feld's book Startup Communities. This is when I approached Jon about becoming part of TechStars. He agreed and the story is to be continued as TechStars London.

Education gets schooled by startups at the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator

I’m excited to announce the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, powered by TechStars this morning. Kaplan will host ten companies focused on education technology and product innovation for an intensive three-month program in New York City this summer. The program will be housed just a few blocks from our TechStars NYC office in the West Village-SoHo neighborhood from June to September 2013. Mentors include Udemy CEO Eren Bali, Kaplan’s CEO Andy Rosen, Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson, General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz, Benchprep co-founders Ashish Rangnekar and Ujjwal Gupta, Nick Ducoff (Boundless Learning), Brad Feld (Foundry Group), Sree Sreenivasan (Columbia University), Phil Weiser (Former Senior Advisor for Technology and Innovation to the National Economic Council Director at the White House, Dean of CU Law School), Matthew Greenfield (Managing Director of Rethink Education), myself, and many more industry leaders in the edtech space. Companies will receive $20K in seed funding, introductions to angel investors and VCs and access to Kaplan’s extensive network of resources; schools, students, tools, and research. Kaplan has been a long-time champion of startups and has been very supportive of the TechStars community generally. We’re looking for teams that support ongoing learning, certifications, continuing education, and, in Kaplan’s words, any startup that harnesses the latest learnings from the fields of science, instructional design, and technology to support the development of highly effective, evidence-based learning products. Teams aren’t limited to traditional classroom education nor K-12. We’re looking for teams that are thinking outside of the box on a big scale. Education needs to be schooled. Details about the program are available at KaplanEdTechAccelerator.com.

Help Fund the Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park

We all felt the impact of the loss of Jessica Ridgeway. As a celebration of Jessica's life, there's an effort going on to renovate her neighborhood park in 2013. The City of Westminster has collaborated with the family on the design and has committed $200,000 in cash and in-kind services. The total cost of the project is $450,000. Current partners include Jefferson County, Westminster Rotary Club, Heinrich Marketing, and Westminster Public Safety Recognition Foundation. My wife and I just made a donation. You can also help the community and Jessica’s family heal with a tax deductible donation to a beautiful park in her honor. To do so, just visit the Westminster Legacy Foundation and be sure to note that your donation is intended for the Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park.

Denver PUC is being Uber-Annoying

If you've ever ridden in an Uber, you know it's a great innovation. Now Denver's PUC is trying to shut Uber down by inventing new rules targeted directly at it. It's a sickening defense of a poor incumbent. [caption id="attachment_3983" align="alignnone" width="200"]How can this be bad? Image from www.thegoodlifedenver.com[/caption]   Right! Who needs clean, comfortable rides on demand from your smart phone anyway? Please read this, and then take the actions suggested there (also they are below). You can make a real difference and teach the Denver PUC the same lesson that community leaders supporting Uber have already taught similar groups in places like Boston and Washington DC and others: that the people of Colorado won't stand for protectionist actions that prevent innovation. If you haven't tried Uber, here's $10 off to try it out. Help us keep Uber in Denver along with other great cities of the world such as San Francisco, New York, LA, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, DC, Vancouver, Toronto, Paris, Milan, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Dallas. There are several things you can do right now. 1) Contact Gov. Hickenlooper and tell him, “Save Uber in Colorado! Withdraw PUC Rules Changes to sections 6001, 6301, & 6309.” Email Gov. Hickenlooper Write on Gov. Hickenlooper’s Facebook Wall 2) Contact the Colorado PUC Directly: Email Joshua Epel, Chairman Email Doug Dean, Director 3) Sign the petition that shows the PUC your #UberDENVERLove. Disclosure: I'm an early angel investor in Uber.