Update: Brad Feld/Jim Franklin just linked to this post, so I thought it might be a good idea to include an update. I'm now a Founder Institute graduate, and I've seen many TechStars company up close, and I agree with Brad/Jim that they are both great programs, and it's worth checking them both out. Note that the deadlines are for last year, they are different this year. Other than that, this guide is still helpful, I hope. -Scott
Colorado is going to have a great summer; the weather will be awesome and there are lots of great chances to hear music, hike, etc. That's always been the case.
What's new is that there will be two startup accelerators (we don't call them incubators any more.) The big kid on the block is TechStars, which has a track record that is getting up into the Harlem Globetrotter realm for win percentage. The program has done so well that it has expanded, but the Boulder program is the bedrock. Anyone interested in the tech scene in Colorado can tell you the energy and enthusiasm from the companies working in "The Bunker" is infectious.
I'm also now excited about another entrant, the Founder Institute, which was founded by legendary starup guy Adeo Ressi, who started TheFunded, a pretty disruptive (in a good way) site in the VC world. Adeo started that after a string of successful exits.
He's also landed a big name to be the lead mentor for the Denver version of Founder Institute, Jon Nordmark of eBags fame.
Now, if I think TechStars is so great, why did I apply to the Founder Institute?
Well, the answer lies in one of the items in the grid below. I'm busy enough with my other projects that it would be hard for me to get to Boulder every day for three months. Also, I don't really have an idea that fits into the TechStars motif, and I also don't have a co-founder. Most of the TechStars teams are just that: teams.
So I will be be attending the classes, and I have a new business idea that may fit perfectly into the Founder Institute system, but Adeo keeps saying that with Founder Institute it's really all about the Founder, and not about the idea. I've heard David Cohen say similar things about TechStars, but the application does ask several questions about the business plan, market, and the like. Even if the plan changes during TechStars, it's clear most of those accepted go in with a plan. I'll be going into Founder Institute with just the vague outline of a business idea.
Bottom line, Colorado is going to be an amazing place to start a company this year. If you want to be part of it, now is the time to check it out. No matter what your situation, there's an accelerator ready and waiting for you here. You just need to apply!
|Colorado New Technology Accelerators |
A Comparison Chart
|Founded in||San Francisco/Silicon Valley; 2009||Boulder; 2007|
|Now also in||Seattle, LA, San Diego, NY, DC, Singapore and Paris||Boston, Seattle|
|Colorado application due||April 25, 2010||March 22, 2010|
|Cost of application||$50||None|
|Application||Personality/Aptitude test, LinkedIn profile||Background, business concept|
|Team application?||Allowed, but not needed||Generally needed for acceptance|
|Economics||You pay $600, and contribute 3.5 percent equity of your company into a pool that is owned by all founders and mentors in your class||You receive $6,000 per founder (up to 3), and you contribute 6 percent common / founder equity of your company to TechStars|
|Full-time in program||Not required, many keep their "day job"||Immersive, full-time for three months|
|Time Commitment||One night a week, plus extra work on your own, for four months||Yes|
|Companies in each session||10-45||10|
|Percent women historically||About 25||About 10|
|Average Age||About 37||About 27|
|"Big Names"||Jon Nordmark for Colo., Adeo Ressi of The Funded started it||David Cohen started it, with involvement and support from Brad Feld|
|Acceptance based on||Aptitude test, strength of founder; idea not part of application||Combined strength of company idea and team|
|Mentors||Only successful startup CEOs||Successful startup CEOs, VCs, lawyers and others|
|Also included||Free or super-reduced legal and other services from 40 partners||Office space in "The Bunker" in Boulder, some legal and other services|