Techstars Seattle Startups Do Demo Day Twice
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the broader organization’s flagship locations.
DeVore took over from Andy Sack as managing director at the conclusion of last year’s session. The accelerator settled into new digs in Startup Hall and is among the most visible denizens of the “Innovation District” envisioned for the neighborhood west of the University of Washington campus. And Techstars acquired Seattle-based UP Global—the producer of events around the world, such as Seattle Startup Week, going on now—filling out its portfolio of programs to help aspiring entrepreneurs go “from idea to IPO.”
Techstars, its Seattle branch included, has initiated new efforts to track and improve the gender and racial diversity of its company founders and mentors. Its record on that score—by its own admission—is not so great. As DeVore noted in a GeekWire op-ed earlier this month:
“I wish I could say that Techstars Seattle has outperformed the Seattle market on gender diversity, but our track record roughly matches that of the Seattle community as a whole; from 2010 to 2015, Techstars Seattle welcomed 140 founders, of which just 11—or 7.9% of the total—were women. On the mentor front, we’ve done slightly better. Techstars Seattle currently has 146 active program mentors, of which 23—16% of the total—are women.”
Ten of the eleven CEOs presenting their companies Tuesday were men.
DeVore wrote that they don’t have records on the race of Techstars Seattle founders, but will track that going forward.
On a national level, Techstars committed earlier this year to double the number of women in its applicant pool mentor network and track participation of underrepresented minorities and double it over the next four years. Techstars also pledged to publish annual diversity data; provide its staff “unconscious bias” training; and require each selection committee to have a minimum of two women. It also established a foundation to provide grants, scholarships, or sponsorships to groups that have a “meta” impact on diversity, as Techstars co-founder and CEO David Cohen told Xconomy earlier this month.
Class of 2015
All of the 11 companies I saw present Tuesday are doing something interesting, and I learned from each presentation. A few tidbits follow. I expect we’ll be hearing more from several of these companies in the months and years to come.
—It takes an average of 200 days for a company to realize it’s been hacked, said Jack Poon, CEO of AtCipher, which is taking a new approach to cloud security.
—Grant Farwell of Matcherino, which allows fans of e-sports to put up money to entice their favorite online game players to face off in “show matches,” said a typical viewer will spend more than 20 hours a week watching—not playing—online games.
—Some 15 percent of digital gift cards go unused, said Giftbit CEO Leif Baradoy. His company allows unused digital gift cards to be reused by their purchasers, typically corporate buyers who hand them out as rewards for completing surveys, for example.
—Candy Jar, an online candy store, listed Willy Wonka among its advisors. The startup—led by CEO Rob Fletcher, who walked on stage to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me”—generated more than $250,000 in revenue in a 100-day test launch earlier this year.