HackStars—a Back Door for TechStars ‘Wantrepreneurs’

Sam Herbert, HackStars Patient Zero

No one can say TechStars isn’t doing its part to close the geek gap. In a nod to the considerable odds stacked up against applicants for the TechStars startup accelerator program (New York City contenders, for example,  have been narrowed down from 1,000 to 30—and that’s before the next round of cuts), TechStars is expanding an ancillary program for those who didn’t make the grade. HackStars, which is already in place in New York and Boulder, has just launched at the TechStars  Seattle outpost. HackStars developers and designers get the same stipend ($6,000) given to TechStars co-founders. But rather than work on their own startups, they “hack” into the TechStars roster–helping code other people’s projects with the possibility of a job.

Why is this good for New York?

Well, by giving these “wantrepreneurs” (startup junkies without the right idea . . . yet) access to fledgling TechStars companies, it offers the chance for a cross-pollination of talent. Take Sam Herbert, a young software developer and would-be entrepreneur who inadvertently became the HackStars program’s patient zero. When Mr. Herbert missed being a finalist at TechStars in Boulder, founder David Cohen gave him a small stipend and let him flit around the accelerator’s ecosystem to see where he might fit. Within a couple weeks, Mr. Herbert left Boulder and ended up with a co-founder’s title with ADstruc, a New York City-based outdoor advertising startup. Now he’s tweeting to folks from OnSwipe, another TechStars’ alum, about the danger of a new Del Toro opening up in the West Village.  Something tells us he’s gonna fit right in.