Do More Faster, Open Sourced

Tech Stars opens the kimono on how to run a seed accelerator

Wouldn't it be great if there was a program for people looking to start a business, where they could go to get be part of a community of like minded entrepreneurs? Where they could hook up with some experienced, successful business folks for mentoring? Where they could get some seed capital to get their business off the ground? A place that would help them look for further funding? A place where you could do more faster? Such a place exists. It is called TechStars and has been spreading to cities all over the country for the last few years. Now it is going open source!

Not only is it open source, but the US Government is using it as a model for its "Startup America" initiative. The White House recently announced this program to try and bring the energy of startup companies to every corner of the country. The program is not using government money, but the government is sponsoring. In response, TechStars has launched the TechStars Network. The network will bring the TechStars model to cities all over the globe.

So where is the open source you ask? Good question. In helping to launch partners using the TechStars model all over the world TechStars is open sourceing its entire model. David Cohen explains:

Basically, we just open sourced our model so that others can learn from it and improve upon it over time. This includes our legal docs, budgets, and most importantly our know-how that we've taken the time to capture fully and provide to our partners in the TechStars Network. On an ongoing basis, it's our goal to help strengthen these programs so that we're creating the best opportunities for entrepreneurs in these mentorship and community oriented programs around the world

I first found out about TechStars through my friend Brad Feld about 4 years ago. Brad is a VC and managing partner at Foundry Group. Brad was working with a friend of his, David Cohen on a new idea for an incubator-accelerator. At first I thought the idea was a play on the dotcom era incubators that so many venture firms started back in the late 90's. But TechStars was different. It wasn't an incubator, it was an accelerator. The idea was to give these entrepreneurs a little money, but to really help them with mentoring and hands on advice to accelerate their development. Then to help them raise additional capital or other strategic alternatives. Brad and David wrote a book assisted by some of the TechStars founders called Do More Faster. It has been very successful and captures many of the lessons learned at Tech Stars.

TechStars started in Boulder, where Brad and David are based. It had some great results and has since expanded to Boston and Seattle. In the meantime, other seed accelerators as they have been called have sprung up as well. Y-combinator is another example. This caught the eye of the White House. Start ups are the engine that drives job creation and we all know how badly we need new jobs. Startup America is seeking to capture and bottle the energy and creativity of start up enivronments and spread them beyond some of the traditional tech startup areas.

It will be interesting to see if by open sourcing the model others are able to duplicate TechStars success. I hope so, but I suspect there might be something else in the receipe that is missing. I think David and Brad and the rest of the TechStars team brought some intangibles that can't be copied in docs and stuff. But maybe I am wrong, lets see if open sourcing the model allows others to "do more faster"

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