Techstars Hires Startup Vet to Run Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator

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receive a $100,000 note from Qualcomm, which converts into an ownership stake.

Kuder left EcoATM in March, about eight months after Bellevue, WA-based Outerwall (NASDAQ: OUTR) agreed to pay $350 million in cash to acquire the San Diego company. He had worked 20 months as vice president of marketing and communications for the company, which was founded in 2008 to provide automated kiosks for recycling smartphones and other mobile devices.

Kuder says he had been working to establish a pre-seed investment fund and accelerator in San Diego called Longboard Ventures when he learned that Qualcomm was talking with Techstars about its plans for a robotics accelerator. He stopped working on the idea after joining Techstars.

As the world’s largest provider of wireless chipsets and software technology, Qualcomm has been seeking to develop new markets for its flagship line of Snapdragon wireless processors and other components. Robotics is a natural fit for the sensors, GPS, cameras, radios, and other technologies that Qualcomm developed for the smartphone.

Kuder’s own resume includes startup stints in Silicon Valley and San Diego, as well as management roles at eBay, Vodaphone, and Yahoo. But he says the real value of the robotics program lies with the expertise and resources provided by Qualcomm—and the 59 mentors (so far) who agreed to serve as advisors.

The list of mentors is weighted heavily with Qualcomm and Techstars personnel, including Techstars CEO David Cohen, Qualcomm CTO Matt Grob, and at least nine investment managers from Qualcomm Ventures. But MakerBot co-founder Bre Pettis is also on the list, along with iRobot co-founder Colin Angle, Orbotix CEO Paul Berberian, Foundry Group co-founder Brad Feld, and Silicon Valley Robotics managing director Andra Keay.

Kuder says the robotics accelerator is being modeled on similar corporate programs also managed by Techstars, including the Kaplan edtech accelerator in New York, Sprint mobile health accelerator in Kansas City, MO, and Barclays fintech accelerator in London.

Unlike those programs, which typically run for three months, robotics startups will spend four months in the Qualcomm accelerator. Kuder says that’s because innovation in robotics generally takes longer due to the combination of hardware and software development that is required. Like other Techstars programs, though, the robotics accelerator will culminate with a “Demo Day” that is expected to include presentations to investors and others—which could prove to be a very interesting day, indeed.

Homepage for Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars

Homepage for Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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