‘Don’t Blow That F%^&ing Opportunity’: Betabeat’s Guide to Watching the TechStars Reality Show Premiere

Vinny Vacanti's in all his televised splendor.

New York’s tech set has finally hit the big time, you guys! At 9 p.m. EST tonight, TechStars new reality show premieres on Bloomberg TV. And the vaunted ranks of IRL housewives, spray tan-happy Italian-Americans, and people with something to lose have nothing on the drama of trying to fund, launch, scale, keep afloat–and especially name–your startup.

In fact, by our count, since January, the TechStars New York inaugural class has already had four name changes, one big win, one pivot, one abandoned idea, and one fail.

If you think about it, the reality show format is a natural fit for a seed stage accelerator like TechStars. Like America’s Next Top Model and American Idol, you have the desperate audition to actually make it on the cast, only with PowerPoint decks instead of strutting and singing. Then once you’re in, your work is constantly being scrutinized by a panel of experts, which makes David Tisch the Heidi Klum (albeit with a filthier mouth) to Roger Ehrenberg’s Nina Garcia. But as every reality show “winner” can tell you, getting anointed by the powers that be doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in the real world.

But you didn’t think Betabeat would let you wade into the expletive-laced, frothy territory on your own, did you? Here’s what you need to know before the premiere.

It’s easy to tell what Bloomberg is going to play up from the way they cut the trailer. From the looks of it, that means Mr. Tisch is going to be the show’s resident soundbite generator. In less than two minutes, he gets bleeped twice, tries his hand at amateur rapping, offers to show the finalists the door, and volunteers some real talk: “Okay you raised your money, stop being douchebags,” which Betabeat may have to make a new tag.

Fred Wilson with HomeField, which birthed ShelbyTV.

Also baked into the trailer is a scene of ToVieFor’s Melanie Moore giddily receiving the news that her startup, which started winding down two months after Demo Day, got accepted into TechStars. The clip also hints at the promise of a $5 million check, which went to SPOILER ALERT!!! the colorful Jason Baptiste and his startup OnSwipe, the mystery company identified back in January only as a “Platform for Tablet Publishing and Advertising.”

SocratED, which became Veri, with Twitter's Dick Costolo.

Other narrative arcs are likely to include startups that pivoted, such as HomeField, the online video analytics platform, which became ShelbyTV, a site that helps you find out which videos your friends are sharing. There’s also FriendsList, the startup that wanted to make classifieds social, which graduated from TechStars but never raised money and isn’t pursuing the venture. In case you’re keeping track at home, here are all the name changes (NB: this can double as a drinking game): UrbanApt became Nestio, SocratED became Veri, Wiji became Immersive, and Relusions became ThinkNear.

Which entrepreneur or investor will end up this season’s breakout star (i.e. the tech world’s answer to Snooki) remains to be seen. But our money’s on the exuberant Mr. Baptiste. Series Awesome!

Here’s an exclusive clip of Urban Apartment (née Nestio) getting the good news:

‘Don’t Blow That F%^&ing Opportunity’: Betabeat’s Guide to Watching the TechStars Reality Show Premiere