As Co-Founder and Chairman of Techstars, David Cohen has spent nearly his entire career focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed. Aspiring founders and early-stage entrepreneurs from around the world apply to Techstars’ startup accelerators to get three months of hands-on mentorship, access to a worldwide network and a check for $20,000 in exchange for 6% of the startup. When I spoke with David for this episode back in 2008, the program was just two years old, part of a trend of structured angel investing and mentoring that was started by Paul Graham’s Y Combinator. At that time, two companies founded at Techstars had been acquired: socialthing!, which was sold to AOL, and Intense Debate, which was sold to Automattic (the makers of WordPress).
Fast forward more than a decade later, and David is a first-round investor in approximately 2,100 internet startups, including Uber, Twilio, SendGrid and Pillpack. Now running 40-55 accelerators during any given year, Techstars has funded over 2,600 companies that have gone on to raise more than $14.5B and create a market cap of more than $44B. In this episode, David shares his own stories of success and failure as an entrepreneur, how he decided to start Techstars and his advice for anyone thinking about starting up — or investing in — a new venture.
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