TechStars Seattle now accepting applications

TechStars Seattle recently opened applications for their next class. If you’re a new Pacific Northwest startup and want to accelerate your business, you should consider applying now to this great program run by my good friend Andy Sack.

TechStars is a three month boot camp for entrepreneurs where you’ll receive intensive top-notch mentorship, incredible perks, and the chance to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program. TechStars invests $118K in each company through $18K in seed funding and an optional $100K convertible debt note. TechStars companies average over $1.4M in outside venture capital raised after leaving the program. Apply to TechStars Seattle at apply.techstars.com by May 31, 2013 and join forces with the #1 tech accelerator in the world! The Seattle program runs from early August to early November, but Applications are due by May 31 — and early applications (I would encourage you to apply early) are due by May 3.

The startup community in Seattle is expanding rapidly, and TechStars Seattle is in the middle of it all with their office located in South Lake Union surrounded by Amazon, Microsoft and tons of amazing startups. TechStars Seattle teams will be working out of  Founders Co-op which is also home to The Microsoft Accelerator (powered by TechStars) and CodeFellows programs. There’s a lot of startup talent as well as investors and other members of the tech community around to help out.

Why should you apply? TechStars is consistently rated one of the top startup accelerators in the world, with a 80+% success rate. For each program, ten companies are selected from a large pool of applicants. It’s competitve to get in —  and why are so many companies applying?  Because TechStars and the mentorship you receive during the program will help accelerate your business like no other program. If you need more info or reasons why you should apply to TechStars Seattle, read what Andy Sack, the Managing Director of TechStars Seattle has to say here.

Who should apply? Andy and his team look for exceptional founding teams who are objectively, mind-blowingly awesome on at least two vectors:

  1. Making — relentlessly efficient and effective creators of beautiful, functional software (and sometimes hardware), who have a track record of making stuff that works — whether in school, at work or on their own time — because it’s their primary mode of self-expression.
  2. Learning — insatiably curious information omnivores with strongly-held fact-based convictions that are constantly subject to critical analysis and revision based on new data, who actively seek new and faster ways — including interacting with other human beings — to learn and adapt in order to improve.

Think you might be a good fit? Then apply now!

Know someone who might be a good fit? Send any team referrals to TechStars Seattle Program Manager, Linsey Battan, at [email protected].

Venture College at Boise State University

A couple of years ago, my friend Mary Andrews (Director of the Office of University and Industry Ventures at Boise State University) approached me about an idea of hers to create curriculum at BSU aimed at preparing students to launch startups either while at school or upon graduating. The more she described it, the more awesome it sounded.

I’m really excited to share that this week, BSU announced Venture College, a program that will debut this fall aimed at providing students with the knowledge, skills and networks to launch a business. It’s fantastic to see this type of forward thinking coming out Boise State. I’ve known Mary since I moved to Boise and our community is lucky to have her. Her background as a venture capitalist gives her a unique perspective in a university setting and anyone who has spent time with her knows that her unwavering optimism is contagious.

As one can sense from yesterday’s article from Entrepreneur Magazine, Boise’s startup scene is on the rise and Venture College at BSU will only add to it. I’m really looking forward to watching this unique and innovative program launch this fall. Go Broncos!

Advice to my 37 year-old self

Last night, as I was having my second serving of dessert at a board dinner in New York City, the 37 year-old COO of the company asked me how I could eat as much as I do and stay fit. I told him that it was much easier for me at 47 than it was at 37. Counterintuitive, right? I asked him how old his kids are (2 & 6) and how much he travels (often). He said he seems to carry an extra 10-15 lbs that feels impossible to shed. I explained that at 37, I had the same issues. My kids were 3 & 4, I traveled a ton, and I was in the first couple of years of starting Highway 12 Ventures. Instead of the 150-155 I weigh these days, it was impossible for me to get out of the 165-170 range back then. I see pictures of myself from that time period now and can’t believe it was the same person.

Fact is, if your kids are under 10 years old and you have a demanding job (exacerbated by travel and the nutrition challenges that go along with business travel), I think it’s extremely difficult to be be great at your job, be a great spouse and parent, and maintain the level of fitness that we all dream about. That’s a three-legged stool that’s really difficult to manage and you’re probably not going to do a stellar job at one of those. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing people who are able to accomplish it. My friend Seth Levine at Foundry comes to mind. Amazing parent to young kids and a terrific husband, incredibly bright and successful and fit as a fiddle. For most of us however, we chose fitness as the weak link and I believe that’s the right move at that stage of your life. However, there’s a few things I’ve learned over the last decade which would have helped me feel better at 37 than I did:

  • When you travel, whatever you do, exercise in the morning. 30 minutes on the crappy elliptical or bike in the hotel is better than nothing. No excuses. You’ll feel better.
  • I love ice cream and eat it almost every night. However, I’ve made it a rule that I won’t eat dessert if I didn’t exercise that day. Period.
  • I really didn’t understand how the makeup of today’s bread affects the body. I’ve largely eliminated it from my diet. If you eat a lot of bread, do your research. Nothing has had a bigger impact on keeping weight off for me than this.

I can go on with more suggestions but there’s mountains of advice on this subject and I’m not Tim Ferris. I really believe if you simply commit to these three things, you’ll see a huge difference. The fourth and most important piece of advice I have is this: Lose the guilt. Being a great parent and spouse is the most important thing your can do for yourself and will increase your happiness more than anything else. Don’t skimp there. Job and fitness come next. You have to choose which you want to be better at. If we’re intellectually honest with ourselves, there aren’t enough hours in the day to excel in all three areas. Carrying around an extra 5-10 lbs isn’t the end of the world. Working out for 45 minutes on Saturday morning and seeing your kids soccer game vs. the epic four hour bike ride with your pals should be an easy decision. If you must do the four hour ride, wake up earlier. Before you know it, your four year-old will be 14 and you’ll know what I mean.

Now that I’ve built some real discipline around nutrition and my kids are teenagers and are embarking on their own lives, I’ve been able to focus more on fitness. In fact, at 47 I’m in the best shape of my life and ran an ultra-marathon this past fall. But I’ve got to be honest: I loved having young kids and I just can’t believe how fleeting it is. I miss scooping them up and holding them and the feel of their skin on mine. I’m glad I chose family and job as my priorities when the kids were young. I can’t remember the extra 10 pounds I carried around but feel like the investments I made in my family and career back then were the right choice for me. If you’re in your 30’s, have young kids, a challenging career and are able to maintain a high level of fitness, please share your hints liberally…