TechStars NYC: Where Are They Now?

We catch up with the first two classes of startups to graduate from TechStars NYC.

Vipin Goyal, Minesh Mistry, Mark Webster
Total funding raised: $1.5 million
SideTour, originally called Arootz, is a social-networking site that allows users to interact offline. “We’ve made a lot of progress since TechStars,” co-founder Mark Webster said in an email, adding that the company has worked with a few partners but “haven’t formally announced any of them yet.” In the last year, the company has grown from four to 10 employees, and has added Lee Edwards, a former senior software engineer at Pivotal Labs, Alex Green, formerly of American Express, Christy Pineda, formerly of Tesla Motors, and Joanna Ehrenreich to their team. The company was also named one of the Top 10 NYC Startups to Watch by Time Inc. and it recently launched a new version of the program that includes new features and hosts.
SideTour raised $1.5 million from RRE Ventures, Foundry Group, and Matt Turck. -ADH
David Bloom, Felix Sheng
Total funding raised: $760,000 is a restaurant e-commerce site that aggregates online food ordering. Cofounder David Bloom said, “ is involved in partnerships, but nothing public.” Since TechStars NY, the company has grown to five employees, including senior developer and head of API Ricky Robinett, who formerly worked at TargetSpot, and director of marketing Deepthi Welaratna from Blue State Digital. “TechStars helped us lay a great foundation for our business,” Mr. Bloom said in an email to Betabeat. has also been included in Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Brillaint 100 List” and Quick Serve Leader called them one of “Ten Technologies to Watch,” Mr. Bloom said. would not disclose how much funding it has raised, however information filed with the SEC says that the founders have raised $760,000.’s investors include TechStars, Google Ventures, Ludlow Ventures and 500 Startups. -ADH
Marc Lizoain
Total funding raised: $512,000
Urtak is a Q&A widget that collects audience feedback through simple ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Don’t Care’ response options. “It is absurdly easy to embed,” founder Marc Lizoain said in an email, “and will get you way more engagement than you do from comments.” In fact, Mr. Lizoain is so confident about his widget that he asked the Betabeat team, “Have you considered using our technology in your piece?” Perhaps tactics like that work because Mr. Lizoain also said that Urtake is “doing great! Better than ever!” The company has since hired the German developer, Sascha Mombartz, who Mr. Lizoain said will be in charge of overhauling the company’s UX design this summer. Because of the ease of answering the questions, the company claims that users answer over 20 questions per session on average and that Urtak-generated questions elicit 100 responses for every one comment they’d typically receive on other websites.
Urtak raised $500,000 in January from Vaizra Seed Fund, Quotidian Ventures, and Esther Dyson. -LH
Melanie Moore, Eric Jennings, and Susanne Greenfield
Total funding raised: $93,000
Although ToVieFor, a members-only auction site for women’s luxury goods, was able to raise fund initially, the company eventually closed down after about a year. It tried to be more like a typical, full-price retailer during TechStars, co-founder Melanie Moore told Betabeat, to satisfy the brands and help establish partnerships with designers, “but, as a result of this change, we lost our competitive edge in the marketplace.We were then going head-to-head with retailers like Net-a-Porter and Shopbop, with no real competitive advantage over these businesses.” Nonetheless, Ms. Moore told Betabeat she had no regrets. “Everything that happened, for better or worse, is a lesson I can now take with me to my next company,” she said.
ToVieFor failed, however they received $75,000 in April of 2010 from the 2010 NYU Stern Business Plan Competition. -ADH
Kevin Prentiss
Total funding raised: Undisclosed
Red Rover is an employee-colleague social network that was created to improve communication between employees and employers. As of 2011, the company reported that over 30,000 people used its software to connect and share information and has been able to triple their paid user base since TechStars NYC, founder Kevin Prentiss said in an email. He added that the company now has a former Weshop employee as CTO and that two developers have been added to the Red Rover team. Red Rover has also had three major upgrades to its platform, and plans on upgrading a fourth this summer. “We are excited to be working with our new crop of clients who are helping us shape the best way to capture the know-how,” Mr. Prentiss said, adding that his company’s growth highlights “the fact that enterprise software can be just as sexy as consumer software.” Indeed.
Red Rover would not disclose information on funding. -LH
David Keay, Spencer Lazar, Joshua Keay
Total funding raised: Undisclosed
Spontaneously, formerly Timestream, is still in beta form and is not actively promoting the site because they are still in their testing stage, co-founder Spencer Lazar told Betabeat. Once completed, Spontaneously will work as a social networking site allowing users to send invites, share event information, and sync their calendars to the site. The site, however, is available to users who contact Spontaneously, Mr. Lazar said. Since TechStars, the company has grown from three to "about six" employees and is hiring.
Spontaneously's founders declined to comment on how much funding they have raised.-LH

We feel a little guilty. We’ve been fickle and easily distracted. Last year, the first two TechStars NYC classes were all we could talk about. But when their programs ended, we kind of forgot about them and directed our attention to the newest TechStars NYC class. Shame on us!

But back in the day, those first 23 companies were all the rage. Like shiny new toys, they were exciting and fascinating. There was even a reality television show about them. So even though their three-month, highly-competitive startup accelerator program has ended, these companies are still around. They didn’t just vanish into thin air. (Well, some of them did).

But all of this begs the question, where are these companies now? How have they fared in the big, bad world? Did they flop? Or surpass expectations?

We didn’t know, so we decided to find out. And it turns out that we weren’t the only ones who were curious about what these companies have been up to.

“When we launched, everything was a concern,” managing director David Tisch told Betabeat in an email. “We were new, a startup.” New York City, he said, brought a unique set of challenges and advantages to these first two classes, but you never how things might turn out. So, Mr. Tisch, what’s the verdict? Have the first 23 New York City companies done TechStars proud?

“The progress shown so far is very promising,” Mr. Tisch said, “and I expect a few very big companies to emerge. There are some early standouts who have shown progress on the product side, revenue side, and team side.”

In the last year, about half of the companies raised over a million dollars in funding from investors (in addition to TechStars’s initial $18,000 in each company) and only two companies failed. A third company, FriendsList, also failed, but its two cofounders shifted gears and transformed into another company, Timehop, a popular app that has since raised $1.1 million.

“I think the quality of the people we funded stands out to me,” Mr. Tisch added. “[And] as I look back at the companies from our first two classes at TechStars NYC, I am confident we have funded some amazing teams who are building big businesses.” -Jess Schiewe