TechStars, the self-described “#1 startup accelerator in the world,” recently announced the 11 startups that were selected for the New York 2013 class from among a field of 1,700+ applicants. Today, Elliot Hirsch, Founder and CEO of AdYapper, a startup curating consumer voices and taking them directly to advertisers, tells AlleyWatch about his decision to apply to TechStars and shares his thoughts on New York’s startup landscape.
Tell us about the decision to apply for TechStars.
When starting/operating your own venture, it’s always unnerving going into unknown situations or scenarios where you might not be in full control of your destiny. That was a concern for us when applying to TechStars, or any incubator – even with the obvious benefits they provide. After extensive research, sleuthing and firsthand feedback from people who went through the program that we greatly respect, we decided to take the leap. One of our greatest fears was that we would be unnecessarily forced into a competitive situation with other startups in our TechStars class – you have enough to worry about when starting a business – but this is not the case with TechStars.
We applied because they have wonderful mentors backing the community in NYC and around the country, and we hoped to become a contributing member of that energy. It’s still early for us in the program, but I have to say, TechStars has delivered an environment that I can only, justly, compare to family. Not only are they delivering on the promise of great mentors, guidance and resources, but the other companies/teams in the program are pure inspiration. Even more, and very hard to achieve even within an established company let alone a 3-month program, is that TechStars figured out a way to challenge you at every turn, while always having your back. Again, another worry of ours that was assuaged. It’s hard to pull off, but I credit David Cohen, the entire TechStars family he has built and especially Nicole Glaros and Eugene Chung in NYC for making this program something people and companies everywhere need to pay attention to in a big way.
Why did you choose TechStars NYC versus other locations?
We are an advertising technology company, and NYC is a focal point for the latest in advertising/ad-tech. We’re also excited to begin bridging the gap between Chicago, NYC and the West Coast, so we can get these disparate communities working together just as we do in the TechStars office. There is too much opportunity there to squander in irrelevant silos. Also, my little brother, Randall Hirsch, lives in NYC, and any excuse I get to hang with him, I take!
What is your take on the current scene in New York?
Honestly, I’m still a new transplant, so I don’t have an opinion that would hold much water. That being said, the mentors and founders I’ve met have been very positive regarding how tight-knit the scene is and how it’s getting better at an exponential rate. I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary.
Where does your company fit in the ecosystem?
As I mentioned before, we are an ad-technology company, so I think we fit well. We have already met many operators and funding sources that could easily add tremendous value to our operations and greatly assist in the honing and realization of our vision. It’s still early in the process, but we are very encouraged by early interactions.
Read what other thought leaders are saying in the “Pulse of the Alley”.