Techstars isn’t just a 3-month accelerator - It’s a network for life

 Ian Sefferman in front of the Amazon offices where he used to work. He still comes to work in Seattle's South Lake Union, but now as a CEO of his own startup, MobileDevHQ. 

Ian Sefferman in front of the Amazon offices where he used to work. He still comes to work in Seattle's South Lake Union, but now as a CEO of his own startup, MobileDevHQ. 

Ian Sefferman still goes to work in Seattle’s South Lake Union every day, but instead of walking into one of the many Amazon buildings, where he used to be a software developer, he walks up the stairs to MobileDevHQ, the company he founded in 2012. MobileDevHQ was part of the Techstars Seattle 2012 class.

What is MobileDevHQ?
MobileDevHQ is an enterprise app marketing platform. We are basically SEO for apps. We help you rank higher in the organic search in the app store by suggesting new and better keywords and measuring your performance compared to your competition.

On your first day of Techstars, how far in the process were you?
We had a product and we had revenue, so in that sense we were probably further than most Techstars companies. That meant we were spending time running a business and whilst following the program, this was somewhat challenging at times.

During those three months, what happened to the idea, the product?
We had revenue already and could probably have built a nice little business out of it, but Techstars gave us the permission to think bigger in terms of product, customers, and funding. We realized that maybe we should focus more on the enterprise customers instead of the indie developers we were targeting. This has shown to be a great path.  We currently have customers like Move.com, Hotels.com, Big Fish, and realtor.com and for the past six months we have had a 20-30% month over month growth rate.  

What was the best piece of advice you got at Techstars?
That you need to make a strategy to deal with mentor whiplash - you will get a lot of advice from mentors, which sometimes can be contradicting. In the end, it is up to you to decide the best path for your company, but you need a strategy to handle all this information. I loved all the mentorship, but because we had to run a business on the side of the Techstars program, we decided to limit the information flow and just have three high-quality mentors.

Fast forward to demo day, what were you thinking just before getting on stage?
To be honest, I wasn’t thinking much. Maybe that I needed to eat something, but I couldn’t. So much preparation had gone into this moment. Time spent on perfecting the pitch, getting feedback from mentors, making the presentation look good.

What was the outcome of demo day?
The day went great, we were well-received by investors and even signed up a few customers. We were aiming for $600,000 in funding and managed to raise $650,000 within a month after demo day. That was perfect for us, we didn’t want to raise too much money either.

Has Techstars helped you beyond the program?
Yes, I still use the network a lot. We have a mailing list and an online board, which is seen by other Techstars companies all over the world, and mentors as well. If you need to get a contact in a company you want to sell to, or a piece of advice, you just send an email to the mailing list. It is great. I also went to Founder Con last year, where I met with other Techstars founders. It was awesome sharing experiences and connect. Techstars is a pretty amazing network.

If you are interested in becoming part of this network, apply for the Techstars Seattle program.  We are currently accepting applications and the final deadline is May 4. Apply now!

Watch the Founder Con 2013 video: