Although the tongue-in-cheek excitement of a reality show that substitutes David Tisch for Heidi Klum and Bloomberg for Bravo was lost on some people, exactly no one in the packed house at Fiddlesticks in the West Village last night seemed to give a hoot. They were too busy watching their friends–and themselves–show up on teevee for the New York tech scene’s illustrious small screen debut.
RRE Ventures footed the bar tab for a breathing-room only crowd that included the grinning founders of TechStars companies like OnSwipe’s Jason Baptiste and Shelby.tv’s Reece Pacheco, along with the usual suspects like GroupMe’s Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht and Aviary’s Alex Taub, and the adorable “Bubby” Tisch, the eldest of the three generations in attendance, who gamely sat near the screen in over-sized glasses watching her grandson getting the f7$%ing bleep bleeped out of him on Bloomberg TV.
“It should be fun, it should be weird, it should be nerdy,” Mr. Tisch promised on stage before the screening. Bloomberg TV head Andrew Morse showed a little less restraint, comparing the TechStars “revolution” to something short of the invention of the lightbulb, “I think when the history book’s are written about this period, the changes that your companies are making, the changes that your mentors are making, the changes that your investors are making will be as significant a shift in the way we live and the way we work as when Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin.” More like tires, Mr. Tisch said afterward.
Once the show got started, the TechStars co-founders chimed in on their scenes, or lack thereof. “We were too boring to make the cut,” Crowdtwist co-founder and CEO Irving Fain told Betabeat’s @benpopper. “We came in with our plan, we kept out team together and we didn’t pivot. I guess revenue isn’t sexy enough for Bloomberg.” After watching the tech bona fides of their venture critiqued by “the Davids” (Mr. Tisch and Mr. Cohen), SocratED co-founder Brian Tobal, whose startup now goes by the name Veri, acknowledged, “We are definitely going to be the underdogs this season.”
The way the producers cut the episode, however, that title might actually go to ToVieFor, the fashion auction site that started winding down two months after Demo Day. Co-founder Melanie Moore looked teary-eyed before a scene where her co-founder got called out for being habitually late (something about being stuck in a stairwell) and then quit off camera, but not without wrangling over equity and demanding to be in charge of marketing. From his seat, Mr. Tisch reached back to squeeze Ms. Moore’s hand in support.
But no amount of skepticism from the mentors could keep Mr. Baptiste down. Despite watching Mr. Tisch say, “Okay you raised your money, stop being douchebags,” and Josh Stylman wonder if OnSwipe is the kind of company that gets crushed by Google, Mr. Baptiste looked elated. In fact, he told Betabeat, he’s getting t-shirts made to commemorate a scene where Fred Wilson expressed his distaste the idea of a “bridge” solution, which came moments after Mr. Wilson said OnSwipe “makes me puke.” We guess raising a $5 million “Series Awesome” round is funding’s answer to rose-colored glasses.
After episode one, it looks like the TechStars equivalent of the Jersey Shore‘s GTL–gym, tan, laundry, my dude!–will be Justify (your strategy to the Davids), Grimace, Pivot. But there are still six more episodes til until the live finale on October 18th, which just happens to coincide with TechStar’s summer program Demo Day, so stay tuned.