A Month in the Life of a Network Catalyst

by John Hill, Network Catalyst at Techstars

The plane landed in Los Angeles after a cross country flight from my hometown of Boston, marking the beginning of a month that would be filled with rich experiences.

My role as Network Catalyst at Techstars means connecting people, and a big part of that means I connect with people in person as much as possible. Here’s a 31-day glimpse of what that looks like.

March 1–3: Los Angeles — Music, Cedars-Sinai and Retail

One of the first things I noticed when I walked into the new Techstars Music program is the neon #givefirst sign. It’s unique, bright, and not unlike this latest addition to our accelerator family.

I was there to do the “Power of the Network” talk that I give to all of our programs, and to meet the companies that make up the first Music class. From using Artificial Intelligence to compose music, to LED-driven wearables that collect data at concerts, the companies are shiny, the products shinier, and the atmosphere is purely Hollywood.

On day two in L.A., I found myself at the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator, Powered by Techstars. I was blown away with the medical-facing technology our companies are bringing to bear.

In between each visit, I got an opportunity to hang with Ari Newman, a Boulderite and partner at Techstars Ventures, as well as Ryan Broshar, managing director of Techstars Retail, in Partnership with Target in Minneapolis. I also got to see Cody Simms, executive director of the Americas at Techstars.

March 7–8: University Training

We’re working closer with universities to apply some of what we’ve learned at Techstars to their programs and to develop mutually beneficial relationships to advance entrepreneurs. This work allows me to give a presentation about Techstars and how to leverage networks at the Desai Accelerator at the University of Michigan.

The next day, I was in Chicago providing insight on how to use LinkedIn effectively at the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul University, which is run by my good friend Bruce Leech, founder of CrossCom National.

March 11–13: SXSW

Instead of catching my breath from a busy March schedule, I accelerated it. We hosted a mentor luncheon and an alumni event the day I arrived at SXSW. I got the opportunity to see friends from around the world that I’ve met under different Techstars circumstances.

I attended an epic party put together by two of our companies, SendGrid and Distil Networks. I finished the conference in a flurry, speaking on a panel hosted by Blackstone Capital called “Building a Global Network of College Entrepreneurs.” One of the fellow panelists was Alex Crosby, a founder from Techstars Mobility in Detroit.

March 19–22: European Tour — London and Berlin

After a redeye from Boston to London, I made my way through the Underground to pay a visit to the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in London to meet a new group of founders and companies.

I gave the “Power of the Network” talk and met one-on-one with the companies to model behavior on how to find the people they need to expedite the success of their companies. This month alone, I met with 53 companies.

A day later (yes, I said a day!), I found myself in Berlin speaking to our founders at the Techstars Berlin Accelerator.

That evening, I got to see our new Managing Director for our Alexa Accelerator, Aviel Ginzburg, pitch his program to aspiring companies at The Factory. One of my favorite places in Germany, The Factory is the home to companies like SoundCloud, Twitter and Pinterest, as well as being a hub for tech entrepreneurs and the community that supports them.

March 23, 28–29: Meeting (Virtually) with Founders

There’s also power in connecting virtually. Together with other Techstars team members, including Nicole Glaros, David Brown and David Cohen, we connected online with founders in a new event called Taste of Techstars. The founders hailed from Adelaide, Detroit, Kansas City and New York, and are aspiring to join a Techstars accelerator.

On back-to-back days in late March, I conducted the “Power of the Network” talk virtually to our founders at programs in Seattle and Tel Aviv.

March 30–31: Miami

From snowy Boston to hot Miami, I arrived to help our business development team connect and support entrepreneurial community builders at our Corporate Innovation Day.

The Corporate Innovation Day is a four-hour event with friends from Endeavor, the Knight Foundation, LAB Miami Ventures, and many others who we get to know and have the opportunity to share what Techstars does.

I emceed, gave a short presentation, and sat on a panel before heading home that evening.

So, there is a month in the life of a Network Catalyst at Techstars. Each is different, some more busy and some less. All are valuable for a connector who loves helping people cash in on relational currency.

When do you and I get to connect in person?

The purpose of Techstars’ Worldwide Entrepreneur Network is to help entrepreneurs succeed. Check out the impact of the Techstars’ network over the past 10 years.