TechStars is an incubator program that selects only a handful of startups in each city it operates in, which receive $118,000 in seed funding ($18,000 plus optional $100,000 convertible note), support from plenty of mentors at successful startups, opportunity to pitch investors, and lots of perks that an up-and-coming company would need to make a big impact. Hundreds apply for a spot in the program, but it only selects 10 in each location. The program itself runs three months and is only conducted once per year.
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Austin seems like a shoo-in for the program, as its already a booming tech city with tons of vibrant startups and a good base of offices from large tech companies like Intel, Dell, Samsung, Applied Materials, IBM, National Instruments, and plenty of others. A handful of the company’s successful startups — Mass Relevance and Stormpulse, both of which count the White House as a client of its services — even got praise from President Barack Obama on his recent trip to Austin last week. There’s also the week-long (or two weeks, if you count music) SXSW event every March.
So, what exactly took so long for TechStars to get here?
“We know that Austin is one of the top startup communities in the country. But timing is everything,” TechStars cofounder David Cohen told VentureBeat via email. “We don’t do anything unless we can do it with very high quality, and we haven’t been ready until now. It’s not so easy to just launch new locations and do it with extreme quality.”
Jason Seats will manage TechStars Austin. He previously founded Slicehost and was VP of software development at RackSpace. He’s also managed TechStars Cloud in San Antonio for two years, which means he has a very good background when it comes to running the Austin branch.
Applications for the Austin program open today. As for what TechStars is looking for, Cohen said:
“In terms of company selection, we’ll be opportunistic in Austin, like we are anywhere else. We are not focusing on any particular vertical area for that program – it’s just like our others in New York, London, Boston, Chicago, Boulder, and Seattle in that sense. As you know, we generally see about a 1 percent acceptance rate, so we’re looking for disruptive companies which leverage the power of the Internet, most importantly founded by amazing entrepreneurs. Team, team, team, market, progress, idea – in that order.”
The new Austin branch will also see support from the city’s most notable venture firms and investors, including Austin Ventures, Silverton, Live Oak, Brett Hurt, Sam Decker, Jeff Dachis, Josh Baer, Rony Kahan, Bill Boebel, and others.
Austin downtown skyline photo via Dylan Tweney/VentureBeat