Joe Aigboboh is also from TechStars Boulder’s Summer 2007 program. He is co-founder of J-Squared Media, which builds games and applications that can be used across social networks such as Facebook. He and co-founder Jesse Tevelow decided to bootstrap the company, or start it with a small amount of raised funds. Their first Facebook app, Sticky Notes, reached 10 million users within a few months, bringing ad revenue with it.
“By the time TechStars ended, we had funding offers from VCs as well as several acquisition offers,” Aigboboh and Tevelow recall in Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup, by David Cohen and Brad Feld. “While most companies were seeking funding, we felt our early success had put us in a position to bootstrap the company.”
Leon Noel is co-founder of SocialSci, an online survey platform that is designed to meet all the requirements of scientific studies. “We connect academic researchers with an honest participant pool online,” Noel explains. “This greatly increases the turnaround time on scientific research.” Noel and his co-founder went through TechStars Boston’s Spring 2010 program.
“TechStars afforded us this instant community, and this ability to network and being around entrepreneurs who are going through the same thing,” Noel says. SocialSci has worked with researchers at schools such as Harvard, Stanford, and University of Pennsylvania, and has more than 10 million questions answered so far. The startup raised $500,000 right after the TechStars program; it now has more than $1 million in funding.
Frederick Townes had already started two other companies when he joined TechStars Boston’s Spring 2011 class. He is founder of W3 Edge, a web development and marketing agency, and W3 MARKUP, a user interface development outsourcing service. Townes’ TechStars experience focused on Placester, a platform that provides easy-to-use tools for marketing, advertising, and relationship management in the real estate industry. He and his co-founder raised more than $800,000 in funding.
“Mentorship was clearly the real value,” Townes says of his time in the accelerator program. “It makes all the difference to work with folks that have been through the exact challenges you’re facing.”
Dan Getelman is co-founder of Lore.com (formerly Coursekit.com), described as where course management meets social networking. Currently used at more than 600 schools, Lore allows educators to take their lectures or courses and create small social networks around them. Coming from TechStars New York’s Summer 2011 class, Lore has raised $6 million in funding. Ironically enough, Getelman and his two co-founders were all students at the University of Pennsylvania before they left school in order to focus on their education startup.
Aaron Gibralter also graduated from TechStars New York’s Summer 2011 program and is co-founder of Urtak, collaborative polling technology that goes beyond traditional surveys by allowing participants to also create questions and to easily share interesting queries and results on social media. Urtak raised $500,000 after TechStars.
“Being able to go into meetings with investors that were already vetted was really much easier than what we have experienced prior to being in the program,” Gibralter says. Urtak has been used by media sites such as The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post, and is working on a “revenue version” that will allow publishers to insert sponsored questions into the flow of Q&A.
Ralph Bouquet is one of TechStars’ most recent grads, finishing up the Boston Spring 2012 program this past May. He is one of the four people at the forefront of Laveem, which aims to provide tools to help everyone understand exactly what they are consuming when they eat and drink. For his team, the accelerator definitely lived up to its name. “It really places pressure on you to constantly innovate,” Bouquet says.
“That sort of extreme…environment is definitely important for the innovation process.” He feels there is a need for more black people to get more involved in the tech industry. “I’ve seen that growth in that direction,” he says. “We sort of owe it to ourselves to make sure we are represented in every sort of main arena.”