Guest Commentary: Most of the time people associate accelerators like Y Combinator and TechStars with teams who have little to no entrepreneurial experience. My co-founder, Marcelo Calbucci, and I are not the stereotypical team.

We are both experienced entrepreneurs and yet we decided to apply and participate in the TechStars Seattle program. Fortunately, we were accepted and are grateful for the opportunity.

The first thing that might come to mind is why?

If you look at the core value proposition for TechStars it is about being surrounded by great mentors to help focus your startup intensely for a three-month period. Between me and Marcelo, we knew many of the mentors already. (Marcelo is even a TechStars mentor himself).

We were also well on our way to close our Series A financing. But we took a step back, and looked at this from a different angle.

Inside TechStars' Seattle

Building a startup from scratch into success is a hard task for anyone. No matter how experienced you are it still takes a lot of time, resources, luck and a little magic.

It also takes tremendous intensity and accountability, two core tenets of the TechStars journey.

Startups of any kind need all the support they can get and TechStars puts that support into hyperdrive with legions of mentors, investors and alumni. It is rare to have so many people around genuinely rooting for you.

You can’t buy this kind of support.

Just three weeks into the program we know we made the right choice and appreciate Andy Sacks’ leadership of the program.

Our business strategy, product decisions, pitch, and everything else that we are doing has been poked, prodded and scrutinized to great lengths.

In just three weeks, we’ve met with about two dozen experienced entrepreneurs and investors and received valuable feedback, introductions and interest in what we are doing.

Being part of a select group of companies is humbling and the stakes are high. But we aren’t alone, fortunately.

We have a team of fellow TechStars companies that are fighting every day for clarity. We also benefit from the TechStars brand which we are honored to be associated with as it continues to gain prominence.

At the end of the day, our decision was about accelerating our business and being in a position to share our progress on Demo Day in November. We are on our way.

Russell Benaroya is the co-founder & CEO of EveryMove, a startup tackling the health space. Previously he co-founded and sold REM Medical. You can follow him on Twitter @rbenaroya. (Editor’s note: GeekWire’s Rebecca Lovell and Jonathan Sposato are both mentors in the TechStars program).

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Comments

  • Anonymous

    Don’t you think that it’s wrong to take up a spot of a less experienced team?

    • http://www.danshapiro.com/blog Dan Shapiro

      That’s ridiculous.  All good things in business could go to someone less deserving, but a CEO’s job is to look out for his company, not to deprive it in some sort of misguided charity.

      Way to go, guys! :)

  • http://www.tatango.com/blog Derek Johnson

    I couldn’t agree more with Anonymous, TechStars is going to see a culture shift very soon in my opinion by not sticking to their roots of truly new entrepreneurs with amazing ideas and nowhere to turn. Entrepreneurs that know they can raise money, know they can get a meeting with anyone they want, have different mindsets and different attitudes towards the whole startup process.

  • http://twitter.com/donalddesantis Donald DeSantis

    re Anon, I think Russell and Marcelo are bringing a lot to their peers in the program (and probably learning a lot from them as well). Having seen two classes in the building, I think the extra diversity (age, experience, backgrounds) is actually a step in the right direction. Great post – looking forward to seeing what the EveryMove team does over the next few months.

  • Michael Smirks

    If these guys are serial entrepreneurs and still need this program, then i would suggest the company is dead on arrival. TechStars is a very valuable asset for Seattle which should be directed to first time entrepreneurs who can leverage the advice and contacts of the techstas team.

  • Ruper

    agree that business owner looks out for their company however the guy is so loud about how he is supporting a community. Not surprising this looks to many as they steal from kids even this is legitimate.
    Anyway, this smells bad

  • http://twitter.com/AndySack Andy Sack

    As TechStars gets better at what it does — and gets more competitive to get into — the bar for getting into TechStars continues to rise.  Having Russell and Marcelo join as a team is evidence of that rising bar!  Glad to be working with both of them!

  • http://twitter.com/AndySack Andy Sack

    Just reading the comment string here I think there’s some misperceptions about TechStars that are worth chiming in on: 
    i) TechStars if for just that — “Tech Stars”!  The program is a super competitive program and is aimed at those people who want to seriously accelerate their business (period). Sometime this is the inexperienced development team who has an awesome product and sometimes this is the experienced entrepreneurial team with a great product.  In either case TechStars looks for the best. 
     
    ii) TechStars offers teams a wide range of benefits — it’s hard to capture them all here. However, mentorship, feedback, door opening, validation, and publicity are some of the benefits. These benefits help any startup.  In many instances, these benefits are more easily understood and capitalized upon by experienced entrepreneurs. 

    iii) I think Russell articulates his rationale for joining TechStars very well. More and more talented entrepreneurs will apply and use TechStars to accelerate their companies! If this means more and bigger successful companies in Seattle — well then, so be it!

    • Joey Alfano

      Couldn’t agree more Andy, good response.  In our latest Boulder class, we had a company at every level of development.  The program as a whole benefits by accepting companies at various levels of development and with very different experience.  Just one example: the age range of the founders was 16 to 50+

  • Ray Burt

    What are the successful exits for TechStars 
    Seattle companies?

  • Ray Burt

    What are the successful exits for TechStars 
    Seattle companies?

  • _Hater_

    If you look at TechStar exits, it looks sad (ex: “acquisition” by another startup, etc.). Mostly a group of entrepreneur wannabes mentoring one another (plus some naive college students).

    If you drive around any tech park in Redmond, you see small buildings filled with successful IT / software companies which are nowhere near the 2.0 startup scene. Stop begging, get to work.

  • Will Miceli

    Russell/Marcelo – great to have you guys part of TechStars, thanks for helping us build an awesome business.

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