TechStars Doubling Down on NYC

techstars mentor TechStars Doubling Down on NYCDavid Tisch has been lobbying for a summer TechStars session in New York since the day he signed on as director and realized the inaugural incubator had some of the strongest applicants he’s seen. Excited, he proposed a second session to TechStars founder David Cohen. “I was told no,” Mr. Tisch said. “David Cohen is much more methodical in his thinking than I am.”

But as the New York program took off, Mr. Cohen started to think maybe his excitable director was right. The incubator had a warm reception, with a waiting list of more than 200 top-tier mentors, Mr. Tisch said. “We’ve had 85 mentors out of 100 who have come by already for the season and over 60 that have engaged with companies directly. In other cities we only have 50 mentors, period.”

Companies in the first New York class are already getting interest from investors familiar with the TechStars brand, and the April demo day is two-thirds sold out, he said.

“We could have taken 20 companies,” Mr. Tisch said. “I said it to a lot of companies we had rejected: ‘If you had applied in other cities you would 100 percent be in this program.’ We just didn’t have room for all the qualified applicants. It became a clear necessity to do a second program,” Mr. Tisch told The Observer.

“The city’s ecosystem is just able to support 20 companies in two programs, and wants to,” he said. “We believe we can do two equally strong programs. If we can do two why wouldn’t we? We’d be leaving ten companies out that should be part of this program.”

Mr. Tisch was also worried that if the program adjourned for six months, people would forget about it. In other cities, people buzz about the fall TechStars season all year, he said. In New York, TechStars would drop off the map and probably be replaced in that time.

It seems Mr. Tisch has won his argument. TechStars announced a summer program yesterday, which will run from early July to mid-October and is now accepting applications. “David Cohen really understood the ecosystem in New York when he came here and saw how strong and supportive it is, and how key a piece we could be,” Mr. Tisch said.

ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries