Let's be clear, New York City is a big, tough place. It's crowded and there are a lot of distractions. People are busy here and it takes a lot for them to stop and notice something. Hell, some poor shlub jumped in front of a subway train the other day and people on Twitter blew up about how it made them late for work. When the ground explodes and 500 pound manhole covers get tossed into the air, we barely break stride to snap a photo and be on our way.
So if you're going to come to NYC and you want to make an impact, you better bring your A-game, and that's exactly what Techstars did yesterday at Demo Day. I've never seen a better production in the Big Apple, ever. Hats off to the Davids, but, most of all, to the companies that presented. If you are lucky enough to be friends with any of these folks, you would have seen them checking in and tweeting from the office at all sorts of crazy hours this week (actually, every week) doing last minute prep--and it all paid off. These companies have all the momentum they could ever hope to achieve and the investor community is abuzz over how impressive they all were. That's not easy to do here, because there are a ton of other great entrepreneurs and opportunities here.
What Techstars proved yesterday was that they could come to New York City, be native, participate and support the ecosystem, and be a serious consideration for the best of entrepreneurs. When you have Andy Weissman of Betaworks going up on stage and eating crow over telling a company that already had a round done not to participate, you know you've accomplished something. They have definitively set the bar for all other incubation/acceloration programs in the city--which I'm glad about. Competition is a good thing for everyone and it raises quality. Given the number of programs we have going on this summer, if they even approach anything near what Techstars did, we're going to have an amazing summer here.
What a lot of people don't know is that, last spring, I had talked to David Cohen about running Techstars here in NYC. My original gig at First Round was more of an EIR for a year sort of thing, so I was thinking about my options. This was before I had really gotten into the swing of things here, before most of the investments that I had worked on started closing--and actually, now that I think of it, even before we opened up the NYC office. After that all came through, it was pretty obvious I wasn't going anywhere and didn't want to.
But when we didn't wind up figuring out how to come to a deal, I was disappointed at the time. I stand here now being really glad the way things turned out--because I have to admit I'm not sure it is even possible to have done any better of a job as the Davids did together. So, I'm happy they're there and I'm here... and I like to think that the NYC community is better for things having wound up the way they did. So congrats, guys... Looking forward to the summer! If you're a NYC entrepreneur, you can apply for the summer right now--and you definitely should.