TechStars Seattle: The Early Word on the Lucky Few

While most of us are enjoying the summer, one group of entrepreneurs is buckling down for three intense months of work. TechStars, the national tech startup accelerator program, has just named its latest Seattle-based class of companies.

Well, most of them, anyway. Ten companies in all were chosen from a long list of applicants, and TechStars today named nine of them publicly—it’s not uncommon for some teams in the “boot camp” program to stay somewhat private in the early stages, since their product, company name, and employee roster can change a lot in a short time.

This is the first TechStars class in Seattle since the Boulder, CO-based program began offering larger seed investments to its startups. The original TechStars model gives all accepted companies up to $18,000 in exchange for a 6 percent stake in the startup. The accelerator has now added an optional $100,000 convertible note (a loan that can become stock) for each startup.

The Seattle branch of TechStars is directed by Andy Sack, an entrepreneur and early stage investor who also co-manages the Founder’s Co-op investment fund with partner Chris DeVore. Their headquarters, in South Lake Union right in the heart of the growing Amazon campus, has turned into a real beehive of activity for Seattle startup folks.

TechStars also has branches in New York, Boulder, and Boston, and it has recently partnered with Microsoft to run sponsored accelerator programs based around Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor and its Azure suite of cloud-computing services.

This is the third TechStars class in Seattle, and the companies are coming from all over the place. There are plenty of Seattle-area startups on board, but there are also teams from New York, San Francisco, Portland, Toronto, and (most recently) Santiago, Chile.

TechStars provided some quick thumbnail descriptions of the new Seattle class this morning, and I spent some time trying to track down more information about the people involved and the ideas they’re working on. It wasn’t always a fruitful search, but here’s what I came up with. We could hear more from these startups and entrepreneurs along the way, and we’ll get the real lowdown in about three months when the program has its Demo Day of pitches for investors.

ApptentiveThis is one of several startups in this class offering tools for mobile developers. Apptentive’s product helps app owners communicate with their users more effectively, through notifications and feedback systems.

One particular focus is getting users who are big fans of an app to rate it in the app store—something that is critical to helping an app surface amid the ever-growing sea of things to install on your mobile device.

The Seattle-based company lists four co-founders, including CEO Robi Ganguly, a tech veteran who formerly worked for Yahoo, and CTO Mike Saffitz, who recently worked on Windows Phone for Microsoft.

Bizible: Bizible sells online marketing software, particularly for small businesses. Among the offerings are search engine optimization, tools for cleaning up outdated information, and analytics.

The startup is led by two former Microsofties: CEO Aaron Bird and CTO Peter Thompson. Bizible also lists three marketing consultants and a WordPress developer as part of its team. The company is already in Seattle, and has previously raised angel financing.

leanplumI only know three things about leanplum: It’s working on a self-described “application testing tool”; it had been based in San Francisco; it has a landing page.

Linksy: Linksy is social media marketing software that organizes the way a business reaches out to its fans online to ask for help spreading the word. It integrates with the major social networking tools, and … Next Page »

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2 responses to “TechStars Seattle: The Early Word on the Lucky Few”

  1. Curt, thanks for the detailed look at the TechStars class, great job on digging into more of what we do and our teams, that’s super flattering. The first week has been a whirlwind of awesomeness – we shared some thoughts on our blog about what it means to us if you’re curious:

  2. There is also TechStars Cloud / San Antonio @geekdom