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Give First

Give First

Author: Techstars

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In the startup world, Give First means simply trying to help anyone—especially entrepreneurs—with no expectation of getting anything back. It's the pay-it-forward principle that builds strong startup networks. Hosts David Cohen and Brad Feld—Techstars cofounders, lifelong entrepreneurs, and startup investors—talk with mentors and founders about what giving first looks like in action, and how it makes great entrepreneurship possible.

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Rob La Gesse has had an interesting career. After high school, he joined the Navy and worked both as a combat medic and a neonatal respiratory therapist. He was a mayor in Hawaii. He taught himself programming and went into tech, just in time to help develop Wi-Fi. On this episode of the Give First podcast, David Cohen talks with Rob about how helping people has guided him at every turn. Rob tells the story of hiring a bartender at his tech company. Why this bartender? Because he was so helpful, and Rob saw potential there. “I can’t teach empathy. I can’t teach compassion,” Rob says — but he can recognize them when he finds them, and he can reward caring people with opportunities and assistance. Follow Rob on Twitter @kr8trTechstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode of the Give First podcast, Brad Feld talks with his old friend Katie Rae, who was once the Managing Director of Techstars Boston. These days, Katie is the CEO and Managing Partner at The Engine.Launched by MIT, The Engine supports big ideas and breakthrough technologies — “the long shots, the unimaginable, the unbelievable,” as their website says — that have really big potential to make a big impact and benefit society. While others refer to this as deep tech or frontier tech, Katie prefers tough tech, and she thinks of it as the “convergence of breakthrough technology and leadership.”Listen for Katie’s story, which is inextricably entwined with the evolution of the Boston startup ecosystem, plus insights into how truly transformational technology happens. Some fun examples include fusion and deep geothermal energy.Follow Katie on Twitter @ktraeTechstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this special episode, Give First host David Cohen and Talking Through It host Neal Sáles-Griffin take turns interviewing each other: it’s two Techstars podcasts in one. David discusses with Neal on how giving first grew the Chicago startup ecosystem, and then Neal talks through today’s hot issues with David, including unicorn startups and cryptocurrency. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the National Geographic documentary series City So Real, a portrait of contemporary Chicago, including Neal’s candidacy in the 2019 mayoral election. Also, check out Techstars Chicago's recent Demo Day, featuring the custom song discussed in this episode. Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode of the Give First podcast, two of the original Techstars founders, David Cohen and Brad Feld, talk with the new Techstars CEO, Maëlle Gavet. If you love Techstars, this one is a must listen, a passing of the torch from the first generation of Techstars leadership to the next. If you want to learn about Techstars, listen for insight into what the company stands for, values, and does. Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed — through accelerators, mentorship, and a worldwide network. And we do this because we believe entrepreneurs around the world can create a better future for all. That’s why David and Brad (and David Brown and Jared Polis — yes, Techstars had four founders, and one of them is now governor of Colorado) started the company. And it’s why Maëlle is the perfect choice to take Techstars to the next level. Want to learn more about Maëlle? Read her book, Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech’s Empathy Problem and How to Fix It, which offers a stunning condemnation of the bad behavior of tech companies and CEOs — and solutions for a more empathic tech industry.Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode of the Give First podcast, Techstars cofounder and Chairman of the Board David Cohen talks with Synergy Space Founder and Techstars Startup Weekend Facilitator Sean Paul Shanor about what he finds so compelling about Startup Weekend.Sean Paul has helped run over a dozen Startup Weekends in eight countries, and in addition has become a startup coach, using the expertise gained from all those Startup Weekends to help entrepreneurs keep going when they get stuck.  Listen for the story of how he transitioned from running golf tournaments in Dubai to helping entrepreneurs in his home country Norway, and beyond — and for insight into how Sean Paul truly lives Give First. Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode of the Give First podcast, Techstars cofounder and Chairman of the Board David Cohen talks with Baden U'Ren about his efforts to grow the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Australia. Baden U’Ren is a nationally recognized entrepreneurship educator who has led Bond University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation disciplines for over a decade, and he is also deeply involved in many other efforts to grow and strengthen entrepreneurship in Australia, through Techstars Startup Weekends and more. Listen for more about particularly Australian challenges to growing startup communities, the “tall poppy syndrome,” and how Give First has inspired Baden. Follow Baden on Twitter @badenuren See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode of the Give First podcast, Techstars cofounder and Chairman of the Board David Cohen talks with James Oliver about why he started the ParentPreneur Foundation.The foundation “empower[s] Black ParentPreneurs, so they can leave a legacy for their children,” and provides grants, community, and resources for Black parents who are also doing the hard work of starting a company. Listen for more about why Oliver chose Black parent entrepreneurs as the group who most needed his help right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, plus insights on how he got the foundation off the ground so quickly — and how his other company, WeMontage.com is doing. Learn more or make a donation to the ParentPreneur Foundation.Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Andy Sack has been a technology entrepreneur, angel investor and venture capitalist for 25 years — and is one of the godfathers of the Seattle startup community. He was managing director for Techstars Seattle, founder and executive chairman for Lighter Capital, and cofounder of seed stage fund Founder's Co-op. He participated in the first Techstars Boston Startup Weekend and was so moved by the experience that he decided to run a Techstars Startup Weekend in Seattle. As Andy says, “(I gave) a talk to the Techstars Boston class and it was supposed to be one hour. Three hours later after talking and answering questions, I left the building, and I was moved to tears.”He rallied the venture capital community in Seattle to support entrepreneurs through Techstars, creating a vibrant startup ecosystem that didn't previously exist. Three different unicorn startups (valued over a billion dollars) came out of Andy's 2011 Class of Techstars Seattle. Follow Andy on Twitter: @AndySackLearn more about his favorite charitable organizations:Two Screens for Teachers - Gives teachers a second computer screen so they can see their students while teaching remotely.Rainier Scholars - Creates pathways to college graduation for hard-working, low-income students and provides access to transformative educational opportunities.REST - Helps women on the street get out of troubled situations and abusive relationships and gives them a place to live.Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Denise Franklin, angel investor and startup veteran, and husband Jim Franklin, former CEO of SendGrid and University of Colorado Boulder MBA Instructor for VC, unpack the mystery of the Give First ethos, from benefiting from the kindness of others early on in their careers,to using their good fortune to help fellow entrepreneurs. They were instrumental in the very first Techstars Startup Week Denver, and give practical advice on how to build a thriving startup ecosystem.   “If you’re a Series B or later founder or executive, you can pay it forward in a very important way, especially if you’ve been acquired by a large company," says Jim Franklin.Jim and Denise talk through the concept of philanthropic angel investing and creating your personal board of directors to help you navigate your way through life and your career.Follow Jim on Twitter: @jimfranklinFollow Denise on Twitter: @denisemfranklinTechstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Janine Davis began in engineering as a software developer. After 20 years in tech recruitment, she is now an executive coach and is a staunch supporter of the #GiveFirst concept, providing pro bono coaching for founders in the Techstars LA and Techstars Anywhere accelerator programs. As a board member for the Women Founders Network, she supports female entrepreneurs. She talks about why coaching is important for startups early on.As Janine explains, “The more you can follow (executive coaching) with leadership development and building your culture intentionally early, the less headaches and clean-up you're going to have to deal with later.”Janine also discusses the challenges of coaching during COVID and provides tips for startup executives during this time – balance empathy with accountability, have regular “check-ins” and “time outs” to reduce anxiety and internal conflict, and find time for self-care.Follow Janine on Twitter: @janineenerdFollow Evolution on Twitter: @EvolutionSvcFollow Women Founders Network on Twitter: @womenfounderslaTechstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Susan Standiford’s impressive career has progressed from “nerdom central” to helping startup companies “create a technology, ethos, and identity” for future growth. Her journey as a technologist has taken her from organizations like Disney Interactive, Travelocity, Oracle, Retek, Rue La La and Zeal, to her most recent position as CTO at IKEA in London. In this episode, she talks about her personal and professional growth with David Cohen, and of the value she has gotten back from being a five-year Techstars mentor.Standiford discusses the “Five Traits of Leadership”—to be smart, able to get things done, able to fight through ambiguity, empowerment of others, and humble leadership (to be curious and willing to learn from others).She talks about the three chapters of her life—coding and building systems, building teams, and then scaling those teams into successful companies with a “growth mindset.” Standiford’s special passion is helping women entrepreneurs succeed in tech startups. And she knows firsthand the importance of the #GiveFirst ethos.Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Joy Taylor is a force of nature. Coming from a 20-year career in the banking industry (business development, coaching, and training), she now focuses on ecosystem building in her hometown of Toowoomba, Australia — and around the world. In this episode, Taylor shares her journey with David Cohen and talks about how giving first to her community led her to exciting worldwide experiences.At Canvas Coworking, Taylor runs programs and events for entrepreneurs. This includes the WiRE (Women in Rural, Regional and Remote Enterprise) startup bootcamp, Flare Incubator for female-led companies trying to expand internationally, and Zero to Startup for migrants and refugees. Her role as a Techstars Startup Weekend Facilitator evolved into Global Facilitator, where she has helps entrepreneurs around the world to organize their own events.Taylor talks about how one experience led into another, and how giving first came back to her along the way.Canvas Coworking: canvascoworking.com.auElkei Education: elkei.com.auConnect with Canvas Coworking on Twitter: @CanvasCoworkIncFollow David Cohen on Twitter: @davidcohen See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode, Gus Balbontin speaks with host David Cohen about the dangers of building momentum, and how it’s important for entrepreneurs to “look sideways” to meet new challenges. He tells stories about his own journey, from a small town in Patagonia, South America, battling FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), to a dream job at Lonely Planet and a career of supporting and inspiring founders within the Melbourne startup ecosystem and around the world.Gus explains why it’s important to create your own “success metric” and not get caught in the trap of crazy momentum, so that you can quickly reinvent yourself and innovate to adapt to future realities.He’s about to launch the Unrealistic Foundation, dedicated to investing in companies looking to disrupt the education model.Follow Gus on Twitter: @gusbalbontinFollow David Cohen on Twitter: @davidcohen See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Brad Feld talks with Semil Shah, founder of the venture capital fund Haystack, who shares his inspiring founder story. With limited experience in the entrepreneurial world, Semil relied on his mentors to see the potential in him. Seven years later, he continues to pay it forward by helping turn other’s ideas into reality. Semil talks about how he turned his passion for writing about startups into a career as a founder of an early stage investment fund and partner at LightSpeed Venture Partners. Learn how Haystack raised their first million dollar fund and how they differentiate themselves from similar companies in the Bay Area. Follow Semil on Twitter: @semil See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode, Chris Schroder opens up with Brad Feld about how a “mind blowing” discovery at a startup convention in the Middle East inspired him to promote global entrepreneurship. With a background in digital technology at The Washington Post and in entrepreneurship as the co-founder of HealthCentral, a health and wellness platform, Chris knows the power of technology and wants to share it with the world.Chris talks about breaking out of his own narrative bias, entrepreneurship being a global language, and why co-authorship is the key to success as a mentor and venture investor. Listen for Chris’s take on the power of mentorship and inspiring founder stories from around the world. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Misti Cain speaks with David Cohen about her journey from a digital marketing strategist to Techstars Anywhere Accelerator mentor, founder of mentorship platform Whyzze, and host of “Werrrk!,” a business reality show. She explains her best tactics for building important relationships in our challenging COVID-19 virtual environment, including having a visual component for a strong human connection, a shared raison d’etre, and clear communication. Listen for Misti’s memorable Whyzze business success stories, her early motivation, her definition of the true meaning of success — and why she believes everyone can Give First. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Co-host David Cohen and guest Heidi Cuppari discuss how she co-founded Dream Tank to truly tap into the radical imagination of children. What started as an experiment five years ago is now a place in which kids, such as guest Amelia Rose Battle, can help make the world a better place.Listen as Amelia shares her experiences working with Dream Tank. This includes how they created a VR experience to help veterans adjust to regular life after serving and learning how to support Dream Tank and promote youth entrepreneurship See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode, Brad Feld is joined by Techstars’ Chief Revenue Officer Frank Alfano and past Chief Innovation Officer Jenny Lawton to talk with their mentor – Len Fassler. They each share their unique experiences meeting Len some thirty years ago, the ups and downs of working together and the tremendous impact he’s had on their lives. Listen to hear how Len got his start in the entrepreneurial world, how he evaluates whether or not to buy a company, and the valuable lessons Brad, Frank and Jenny learned from him. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Philip McKernan talks with David Cohen about how to find your purpose in life and his work with entrepreneurs. Through his coaching, he encourages people to take the risk they would only take if they were dying tomorrow. Listen as Philip and David discuss the importance of reinventing yourself, finding a business that fulfills you on a personal level, and how the idea of “holding space” can transform an entrepreneur’s home life. You can find the resources mentioned by Philip here. What would your one last talk be about? Tell David on Twitter @davidcohen. Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast.This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars. Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Back in June 2019, David Cohen and Brad Feld looked back at their first six episodes of the Give First podcast, and decided that while they were pretty pleased, they’d probably need to do about 20-30 to really hit their stride. Seven months later, they’ve passed number 20, so they’re taking another moment to check in. Listen for reflections from these persistent podcast hosts, plus reminiscences on highlights from recent episodes with Josh Hix, Rajat Bhargava, Elizabeth Kraus, Jason Mendelson, Jannet Bannister, Heidi Roizen, Marc Nager & Dave Mayer, John China, Sherri Hammons, and Rebecca Lovell — as well as Harry Stebbings, host of the Twenty Minute VC, who enjoyed his first experience on “the other side of the microphone” as David’s guest. Brad teases a big new move for Techstars — the announcement, just last week, of Techstars Press — and talks about all the books he’s writing. Most of all, David and Brad want to hear what you think. Should the episodes be longer? Shorter? You can email them your feedback on the Give First podcast at podcasts@techstars.com.Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast.This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars.  Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
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