What does it take to become the next big tech thing? Eleven start-ups will enter TechStars' first New York City start-up incubator to find out if they have the smarts, the will and the ability to get cash in order to become the next high-tech sensation.
TechStars, the Boulder-based technology start-up investment fund, will star in the six-episode series, simply titled TechStars. It premieres tonight on Bloomberg TV at 9 p.m. and runs through October 18. The show will also be available at Bloomberg.com.
TechStars was founded in 2006 and has since expanded to Boston, New York City and Seattle. The three-month-long incubators usually put ten (though the television show features eleven) companies into start-up boot camp, where they mold their business plans and practice their investor pitches. NYC mentors include people who've launched companies like Tumblr's David Karp, College Humor's Josh Abramson, Foodspotting's Soraya Darabi, as well as many investors, including TechStars itself.
"What would normally happen in two or three years happens much quicker [in the incubator]," CEO David Cohen says. The process culminates in a presentation in front of hundreds of potential investors. "What matters is access to mentors who can help you through the process, but this gives you an unnatural amount of attention, which you wouldn't get in the wild. This is the same with investors."
With the show, Cohen hopes to present the entrepreneur process in an honest, realistic way. "The term 'reality show' conjures up ideas of forced drama and big prizes and whatnot. We'd like to think of what Bloomberg has done as more documentary in style," he says.
TechStars had been approached by five different networks to do a reality show but didn't want to change the basis of the incubator process.That means nobody gets voted off each week. "We are proud that we haven't changed anything about what we're doing and this show will capture the real reality instead of what people think of."
"It's very real. You'll see success, failure, real emotion and struggle."
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There's a free screening party at the Boulder Theater to celebrate the opening tonight. Congrats if you got tickets -- it's sold out -- and good luck on the wait list if you didn't.
This is TechStars' first national television show, but not its first foray into video. In 2010, they created a twelve-episode web series called The Founders that documents the incubator experience in Boulder.