TechStars' David Tisch Highly Recommends, Well, TechStars

In the startup world, accelerators and incubators are a hot topic. Pioneers Y Combinator and TechStars have mastered the formula: Seed blue-chip teams with five-to-six-figure investments, and provide heavyweight mentors and investor hookups. But a new generation of copycats are stumbling. Insiders weigh in.

Photo by Rayon Richards

David Tisch

Managing Director / Techstars / New York

Resume: Nearly 90% of startups that come out of Tisch's TechStars either reach profitability or raise venture capital. The accelerator's portfolio companies have raised a combined $200 million since the program launched in 2006.

"The majority of accelerators are not good for companies and will fail. There are too many of them. The idea of applying to just any accelerator is totally silly. A company should do homework and figure out which one is right for them. Outside the vertical accelerators—the ones that cover, say, health care or energy—I would hesitate to do any accelerator other than TechStars or Y Combinator. We have proven results thanks to our alumni network, investor network, and mentor network. Why do I know this works? It's not because we're some new accelerator that opened our doors yesterday, made up a list of mentors, shoved it on a website, and threw a demo day at the end. I know it works because we've done it before. And remember: Accelerators are not free! You're giving away a real amount of equity. So if an accelerator is charging more than TechStars or Y Combinator, I would ask why."

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