Narrowing Down the Techstars Field

Going into year 4 of Techstars Seattle one would think that the selection process would get easier.  That’s not the case! The truth is the selection process is never easy, and every year we are faced with hard decisions. The past three years have been super competitive and this year (2013) was no different.

So what’s the selection process like and what makes it so difficult? The process begins with many hundreds of submitted applications, which we have to screen and sift through to get down to the top 10%. That first filtering isn’t actually the tough part of the process, the tough part is when you get to the top 10% and have to decide which teams you are going to invite for an interview.  When you get to the interview, the whole process becomes more complex and emotions come into play. The applicants are no longer just videos of people sitting under a tree with a guitar singing a jingle about why you should let them into Techstars, or of a demo video of their slick product. Now, the application is a team of ambitious individuals sitting across the table from you, staring you straight in the eyes, palms sweating, pitching hard as to why they should be accepted to Techstars with a finite amount of time in front of you.

This is where process gets so hard that it can keep you up at night hard. We have met over forty teams and need to pick ten. We have a selection committee that we pulled together with a diverse group of individuals. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has their front runner they are rooting for and want in that batch of 10, and everyone has a team they love and a team they don’t love. Dealing with all this can be draining.

Eventually after long discussions, follow-up phone calls with CEOs, rewatching videos, assessing product/market fit and a bunch of other factors weighed in, we make a final decision. This is the point of the selection process I simultaneously love and hate, making the phone calls.

Until next time,