5 of the Most Inspiring People I’ve met during Techstars (so far)
As myself and the Party with a Local team near the halfway mark of Techstars Connection, in partnership with AB InBev, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on some of the inspiring people we’ve met so far during the program.
This is by no means an exhaustive list — every week we meet A LOT of amazing people — people who take time to mentor us, to give great advice, run workshops and make important connections. These are just some, of that growing collection of amazing people, that have stood out to me for various reasons:
- Moisey Uretsky, Digital Ocean — Every Thursday evening during the program we have a ‘Founder Story’ at the Techstars Connection office. Moisey’s was my favourite story so far. It was great to hear from a Techstars alum, who’s gone on to do great things with Digital Ocean, talk about his journey in such an open and honest way. Startups are tough, with a lot of ups and downs, and Moisey didn’t sugar coat it. I think that’s why I found it so inspiring — you don’t learn anything from a successful founder who just talks about all the success they’ve had. You learn from the hard times, the challenges, and how they got through and made it happen.
- David Cohen, Techstars — I wrote in my last Techstars email update that I think I learnt more about startup fundraising in 2 hours with David Cohen, the Techstars Co-Founder & Co-CEO, than I have in years of reading about it. That’s true but it’s not the reason I found David inspiring. To me he embodies the #givefirst culture that Techstars has at it’s core. It makes sense, as he co-founded Techstars, but it was awesome to witness that #givefirst spirit from the founder himself. David flew to New York from Boulder for 2 days to give his hands-on workshop on fundraising, and a lengthy AMA session, in person — as he does with almost every Techstars batch I believe. He took 1–1 time with every team, and has since followed up with me with useful introductions and feedback. It’s inspiring to see someone who’s very successful, and obviously very busy, still manage to make so much time for others, to maintain an organisation’s culture at scale, and continue to always #givefirst.
- Chris Schembra, 747 Club — As soon as the Party with a Local team and I met Chris, at a pre-Techstars mentor happy hour, we liked him. He’s a likeable guy — charismatic with a contagious energy and smile. Plus he seems to know everyone (which turns out he sorta does!). But it wasn’t until we met him properly, during Techstars’ ‘mentor madness’, and I got invited to one of his 747 Club dinners, that we got to see what a truly inspiring guy he is. What he’s created with the 747 Club is something special — I can honestly say I’ve never met as many interesting people in one sitting, and never witnessed a group of strangers feel so close by the end of dinner (to see how Chris makes that happen… you just have to go to one of his dinners). That and all the other ventures he’s a involved in, whether as an advisor, speaker, community builder or social influencer all seem to turn to gold. Chris inspires me personally with how good he is at selling big ideas — then backing it up by making them a reality! I’m happy to have Chris onboard as a Lead Mentor to me during Techstars Connection.
- Adam Liebman, Squad — Meeting Adam wasn’t a scheduled Techstars session, it was an intro from Natalie Fratto, one of the mentors from Silicon Valley Bank (thanks Natalie!). Adam is the Founder & CEO of Squad — a group dating app which pre-dates Tinder Social. We met Adam to share experiences of building a social app. We were expecting a casual chit chat, but the team and I were blown away with how candid Adam was. Party with a Local is not competition to Squad, but still — the level at which Adam was willing to share with us the good and bad, the stuff that had worked and didn’t work for them, to give us honest feedback on our app, was not only really useful, but just really refreshing. Adam didn’t go through Techstars, but still has the #givefirst mentality and an incredible openness, which I think will continue to bring him a lot of success.
- Brian Perkins, Budweiser — Our Techstars program, Techstars Connection, is in partnership with AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewing company. Each of the startups in our batch have a ‘sponsor’ from AB InBev — someone to help us navigate the behemoth brewer’s corporate landscape. Brian Perkins, VP Global Marketing Budweiser, is ours. We met Brian a couple of weeks back and we were really impressed. He’s obviously very smart, determined, competitive and truly passionate about the Budweiser brand. Brian really got us to think hard about what brand values we stand for at Party with a Local, a really useful exercise in self examination that is going to help us going forward.
…Can’t wait to see who we’ll meet next at Techstars!