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Techstars brings the love to NYC

Written By: Brian Wang 21 November 2010 Other Posts By: Brian Wang

Reposted from Brian’s personal blog on November 20th, 2010 10:47pm:

So I’ve just returned home after a pretty exhausting 28 hours.  If things had turned out as planned, I’d be in Boston right now, being taken around by my twin brother for a show with his friends called “Look, he actually exists!”, while drinking myself silly and having a grand old time.   But instead, I’m sitting in Brooklyn with a belly full of pizza, fading consciousness, and an earful of quotes from  a madman Gary Vaynerchuk.

The weekend with my brother almost didn’t not happen (I’m pretty sure that sentence makes grammatical sense)  Yup – earlier this week my Fitocracy cofounder Richard and I thought that we weren’t going to be invited to Techstars for a Day and so I booked a ticket to Boston for a chance to see my twin brother Andrew.  But at the very last moment, Richard called me an hour into the bus ride last night (ok, a little past the last moment) saying “You have to come back.  We just got an invite.”  Well shit, we were barely beyond the NY state border at that point but I had a feeling the bus driver wasn’t about to stop the trip so I could get on the side of the road and hitchhike for a ride back to New York.  So I took the somewhat saner option and got the midnight bus ride back to NYC.  An hour wait in Boston, one McRib sandwich, one terribly uncomfortable nap on the bus later, and I was back where I started almost exactly 12 hours prior.  Andrew, I’ll make it up to you later, I promise.

But this post isn’t really meant to be a show of how dedicated I am to Fitocracy.  In fact, some Techstars For A Day participants had flown out from across the Atlantic to be here so my sacrificed weekend wasn’t all that big a deal.  I suppose I laid out the above to remind myself just how worth it this event really was.

The purpose of Techstars for a Day was to give early Techstars applicants a small taste for what it’s like to be a TS company.  It consisted of talks from a handful of TS NYC mentors (Avner Ronen of Boxee, Hilary Mason of bit.ly, Tim Shey of Next New Networks, Ben Lerer of Thrillist.com, Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library/VaynerMedia/I’mGonnaKickAllYourAssesYouPunksButIStillLoveYou, and Chris Dixon of Hunch and Founder Collective).  In between, there were breaks for networking as well as a Q&A session with a Techstars alumni panel.

All awkwardness aside – I can sometimes make weird networking faux pas, sorry Steve! – the event was incredible.  And I say that completely independent of the Techstars program itself.  Don’t get me wrong, I very much want Fitocracy to be part of the inaugural Techstars NYC class of 2010.  But if we don’t get in, well that sucks, but life moves on, right?  Fitocracy would continue full steam ahead all the same, just not as part of Techstars this year.

No, what really got me excited today was just the energy of the room, the electricity in the air.  Now, plenty of people far more eloquent than I have already heralded the ascendancy of New York City as a major tech hub so I won’t belabor that point.  But today I saw it with my own eyes and I left feeling very good about New York’s future.

Brad Feld says that creating a sustainable entrepreneurial community requires about a 20 year journey that includes a core group of leaders, events that foster collaboration and community building, and a funnel of fresh entrepreneurs that can be quickly and easily hooked into the rest of the ecosystem.  New York has all of that now.  We are right in the middle of that 20 year stretch that Brad talks about, starting from NY’s emergence from the wreckage of the first internet bust.  We’ve got people like Chris Dixon, Fred Wilson, and Charlie O’Donnell waving the banner for NYC tech.  We’ve got NY Tech Meetup, NextNY, and countless events for any startup topic or vertical you can think of.  We’ve even got awesome programs like HackNY and Adopt a Hacker meant to move the needle in a big way in terms of technical talent in NYC.

I don’t think Techstars could’ve come to NYC at a better time.  The foundation for a sustainable community has been laid down.  Experienced mentors, a collaborative spirit, an improved funding environment, growing supply of technical talent… it’s all in place, ready to build a force to be reckoned with.  I think the most gratifying moment of today was when Laura Fitton asked how many attendees were planning on charging ahead with their companies if they didn’t get into Techstars.  I don’t think I saw a single hand drop.

I didn’t get the chance to ask Chris for his opinion on this while he was taking questions, but I’ve been wondering what needs to happen for New York to experience a significant phase shift as a tech hub.  Perhaps it’s not going to be one Big Bang moment – in fact it probably won’t.  But what I do know is that Techstars NYC is going to be a big deal for this city.  The value of the Techstars network will soon be spreading throughout NYC and that is awesome.  I’ve met some really great companies at the TS events and I would not feel any sense of defeat for not being accepted into the inaugural 2010 class.  The very arrival of this program is a huge win for everybody in NYC and we should all be cheering for it.

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  • http://blog.hitchddesign.com/about/ Hitch'd Design

    We've been hearing a lot of buzz about the NYC scene here in Tokyo as well! Looking forward to visiting and connecting with other entrepreneurs in the very near future! We too have applied to Techstars NYC, thanks for the insight!

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