In this installment of our ‘Accelerate’ series, we sat down with Techstars Managing Director Jenny Fielding to discuss how the company is helping grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem and why it’s important to back great founders versus just an idea.
Daniel Chui: Techstars' mentorship-driven accelerator program operates across several major cities and in various technology sectors. How is Techstars different from most accelerators, and how does the team approach entrepreneurship?
Jenny Fielding: What distinguishes Techstars is the extent of our global ecosystem that helps founders build great companies. With over 1,000 companies in the portfolio, we have invested in startups around the globe working on every aspect of technology. Together, with our mentors and corporate partners, (Click to Tweet) Techstars helps accelerate the pace of innovation by strengthening the path for entrepreneurs, providing support and helping to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
DC: What are key qualities you look for in the entrepreneurs you work with?
JF: At Techstars, we look to invest in startups with outstanding founders. (Click to Tweet) Having a big vision that can scale is a huge part of what we look for. Additionally, we seek out founders with domain knowledge, team chemistry and a burning desire to solve a particular problem. We also look for founders who are intellectually honest and open to feedback.
DC: Can you tell us about one success story you’re proud of since joining Techstars?
JF: (Click to Tweet)We often take companies that are so early that many people can’t see the potential. When I met the incredible founders of Remesh, I knew that they were special. Despite having a great team, big vision and tons of passion, they didn’t have a product. I invested in them anyway after consulting with David Cohen, CEO of Techstars, who assured me that “investing in founders rather than ideas is what we do.” Two years later and Remesh is killing it, having found their stride, raised a few million dollars and expanded the vision.
DC: What's one big focus area for Techstars this year?
JF: Techstars as a whole is focused on global expansion and we recently announced new programs in Canada, Australia and France (with more locations coming soon!) My personal focus is on IoT, specifically around enterprise and industrial use cases. Our next IoT class is coming together now and will be announced on July 10th so I’m looking forward to a busy summer in New York City.