To the New TechStars Cambridge Class, Yo

Congratulations!

You are part of a truly elite group. Not only does the program brand you, but Katie and Reed are some of the most thoughtful and connected people in the whole ecosystem. Such high integrity. You’re in great hands.

Members of our firm have been Mentors since the program’s inaugural class, and we look forward to working with you. We may not yet know all of you, but we already care about you.

I hope you will use the program to do the following:

  • Go “all out”. The program is intense. You will feel at times tired and will want to give up. Don’t do that. Many of you have moved and disrupted your personal lives. Given those real and painful costs, charge ahead and get value from the program. Have no regrets
  • Be honest. Raising VC money may not be the right thing for your company at this time. Avoid the false impression that if you have not locked up VC funding by Demo Day, you suck
  • Seek authenticity. Chemistry with Mentors is critical. You must find someone with whom you can be totally honest and have really meaningful conversations. They can’t be mentoring sessions disguised as fundraising pitches
  • Build a total life. Find a community. Exercise. If you are spiritual, find a house of worship. Read just for the fun of it. Take in a game at Fenway. Hike in the mountains when the forest explodes with colors during autumn. Continue being a total person to keep the batteries charged
  • Find an alumnus to guide you. Critical. Find someone from a prior TechStars Cambridge class. Ask for lessons learned. Find best practices
  • Make Mentors work. Have a specific “ask”. You want an intro to X. You need help with Y. Do not be shy
  • Understand the varying VC strategies. Multiple approaches work in VC. But, they differ.  And, you have to find the one that best fits your needs at that time. More at “A VC’s Strategy and ‘Kill Rate'”.  To better understand VCs, you might also find helpful: “How Are VCs Paid?”.  For one person’s view on raising VC money, here is a blog series here.

Eric and I look forward to meeting you all. There is so much genuine love for TechStars in the community. And, that’s what makes the program special.

Congrats again!

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5 thoughts on “To the New TechStars Cambridge Class, Yo

  1. I responded to a Brad Feld post, regarding his assertion about TechStars Cambridge vs. Boston with the below. I think The logic still applies to what you’re trying to do.

    Here’s the original article.

    “Brad, Thanks for posting this. As a TechStars Boston alum, and Boston native, I’d like to weigh in. You make some good points, but your view is myopic, which is so wonderfully Boston!

    If you look at a map, all roads lead to Boston and its harbor. Its our origin, its who we are. Without that harbor there’s no Boston or Cambridge, there is no Harvard or MIT, no thriving tech scene, and there might not even be an America.

    Boston and its harbor is “The Hub” of our region (Go Pats!), and Kendal Square, like Longwood, 128 or 495 are just amazing extensions of this origin.

    To want to call TechStars Boston, Tech Stars Cambridge is a neighborhoodism that is so uniquely Boston. Never tell a Southie kid he’s from the South End, or a Cambridgian who lives in Porter Square or Huron Village that they’re part of Kendal Square. I bet for you Brad, Kendall/MIT is your turf, its where your people hang, and you’ve built a comfortable wall around it.

    This same mentality drove the neighborhoods to protest the forced busing of the ’60’s. It often gets confused as racist, and race was a factor, but it was mostly just parents wanting their kids to stay close to home and be taught by the people they know.

    Yes, Boston’s tight-nit tech “neighborhood” is Kendall (which just happens to be in Cambridge), but we’re part of a greater Boston movement that started with the first ships that landed in our harbor.

    We may have our own little neighborhoods (or cities) that we call home, and we may rib or even hate the ones that are not our own. But, to the outside world we’re all Boston, and we’re proud to consider you, Brad Feld, “from” here.”

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