Techstars Managing Director Alek Iskold joins us today to offer up some tips for the applicants who are thinking of applying before the upcoming deadline for the Techstars NYC 2015 class. And heads up: the deadline is October 19th.
The program is very competitive, and end we end up accepting less than 1% of the applicants. Because the program is so competitive, it is important to make your application stand out. Here are the things that we are looking for in your applications for the next Techstars NYC class.
Take your applications seriously. It is pretty easy to tell when the application is a sloppy one. Those are a big turn off – it signals that you will be sloppy with your business as well. Put in the time to craft it, and answer all of the questions.
2. Clear Description
What do you do? So many startups come up with unclear or lengthy descriptions that make it hard to tell what the company is about. Make your 1-line crisp and clear, and make sure that your 1-paragraph description further explains the business in simple terms.
Don’t describe your business as X for Y. We are Pinterest for SMB or We are Uber for Dry Cleaning are not good descriptions. These sort of descriptions strip your business of identity and soul, and aren’t going to leave us with a great impression of you in the application process.
Here are some examples of good 1-line descriptions from the last Techstars NYC class:
- Concert Window is an online music venue
- Hollerback is a fun video messaging app
- Infinit is the fast and simple file sharing app
- Lynxsy is a mobile platform for startups to recruit non-technical talent
- inhelps venues leverage their guest WiFI
- Tutum is a container-based cloud computing technology
3. Awesome videos
Short text can’t convey your soul and inspiration, but even a 1-minute video does. Make an awesome video about your product. This is your chance to really show off what you built and why it is great. Then make an amazing video about the founders. Express yourself. Tell us who you are and why you started this business.
DigitalOcean’s video was certainly stylish and notable. Here is one of my favorite founder videos, from a Techstars company called NMRKT. Their product video is pretty great too. Here are some more great product intro videos: Concert Window, Lynxsy, and MakersKit.
We love stories, but we love stories with numbers even more. When did you start the company? What is the equity split? How much financing have you raised to date? How many years of experience do you have? How many customers do you have? How much revenue did you generate last month? How many new users are you adding every week?
Use numbers to tell us the story of your company to date. Use numbers to show that you understand that building a business is about numbers. Companies that focus on numbers, traction, growth and progress really stand out in the application process.
What experiences have you had that led you to start this business? Do you have deep industry expertise? Do you really understand the problem and the market? Make it clear.
What other things have you done? Tell us about things you’ve built, share your accomplishments and show that you can iterate and make things happen.
Do you know a Techstars Alumni or Mentor? Have you worked with someone who is close to the Techstars network? Get them to write you a recommendation. Whether it is an introduction via email, or f6s endorsement – either way, it is validation that makes you stand out.
7. Engage us!
Tweet and email, connect and tell us about what you are doing. We love companies that get on our radar. We love it when founders come forward and engage us. Tell us about your business, score a meeting or a Skype call and come to our upcoming events.
Every interview is a two-way street. Ask us questions, and understand what value will Techstars NYC will bring to your company if you get in. Start a conversation and treat it as a process for our getting to know each other.
We look forward to reading your applications. The deadline is October 19th, and we encourage you to submit applications as soon as possible so that we can start to get to know you. Do it quickly, but be thoughtful and make it awesome!
Image credit: CC by Bill Erickson