The Startup Battlefield competition at our Disrupt events is like a mini startup school. The dozens of chosen startups that go through the Battlefield training process end up with solid presentation skills, hard-earned pitching prowess and newfound courage.
And also, lots of public visibility, which is great for getting users, hiring top employees and luring clients and investors.
The Battlefield has gone so well that our current staff has been getting overwhelmed by the record number of applications. We need help, so we’re creating a new position called the Battlefield Editor.
We’re looking for a bright, talented person to help manage the entire process, from bringing in applicants to picking the 30 finalists and getting them ready for the Disrupt stages in San Francisco, New York and, this year’s addition, Berlin. In this position, you’ll also get to give out a huge trophy and a big cardboard check for $50,000 to one lucky startup, as they debut to the media and the investor world. Battlefield winners and finalists have included huge success stories like Mint and Yammer among others.
Are you already in the Startup Whisperer role at a popular accelerator and think you can take your show on the road? Read TC every day, just finished your MBA and want a more meaningful job than McKinsey? Can you find the Next Big Thing? Send your resume and a letter explaining your interest here.
TechCrunch is looking for someone to oversee the Startup Battlefield process in all its phases — including applicant recruitment, applicant review and final selection (working under the direction of TC’s co-editors), finalist training and rehearsals, and finally stage management at Disrupt. The role’s title is Battlefield Editor. In addition to those responsibilities, the role will focus on expanding our network of angels, incubators, VCs and accelerators to recruit a stronger pool of Battlefield applicants, strengthening our rehearsal program, and developing the Battlefield franchise, both online and offline, for applicants and alums.
The role requires a strong writer who can post on TechCrunch about Battlefield matters, as well as manage many threads of communication with the many parties who make up the Battlefield. The core of the job is a strong ability to work with relatively green, unlaunched startups and prepare them to present brilliantly on the TC Disrupt stage before a group of highly distinguished judges. That preparation process takes enormous focus and commitment. Beyond that core requirement, the role will also work to help expand the Battlefield franchise in a variety of ways, including improved ties with Battlefield alums.
Candidates should have deep experience in the Silicon Valley startup world and direct experience working with startups and investors to help shape new ideas and prepare them to pitch investors. They should possess very strong personal and written communication skills, outstanding organizational skills, a high capacity for detail work, and a very patient and winning attitude.
Published by Rip Empson
in category Adam Draper
, Fundings & Exits
, Venture Capital
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As a fourth generation venture investor, Adam Draper was pretty much predestined to work with startups. The son of Tim Draper, the founder of global VC firm Draper Fisher Jurveston, Adam has made it his mission to do everything in his power to help entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life — without relying on his family name to do so. After taking the plunge as an entrepreneur himself, co-founding a capital raising and trading platform and an equity crowdfunding portal, the 26-year-old again finds himself back in the Draper wheelhouse: Early-stage finance.
In the summer of 2012, Draper launched his third venture, Boost.vc, a San Mateo-based accelerator that offers housing (in an on-site hotel), office space, mentorship and seed funding as part of its 12-week incubation program. But by today’s standards, considering the glut of startup accelerators that have emerged over the last two years, what was once an attractive model now almost sounds run-of-the-mill. I’d argue, and Draper would agree, that accelerators can provide more value for startups over the long-run by focusing on a particular vertical.
Today, Boost.vc is taking its first (experimental) step in that direction by focusing on one of the hottest verticals in the tech industry: Bitcoin. About three months ago, the decentralized, ungoverned currency became “an obsession,” Draper says, and since then, it’s been the focus of his blog, meetings and now, in part, his accelerator. Boost.vc will be dedicating half of its second batch (seven startups total) to companies building products and technologies around the Bitcoin ecosystem.
When it comes to Bitcoin, Draper unabashedly wears rose-colored glasses, calling Bitcoin “one of the most exciting innovations happening in the world today.” While the kind of endorsement might give some pause, Draper isn’t alone. Last month, Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Jeremy Liew penned a post for TechCrunch explaining why VCs “love the Bitcoin market.” Liew himself has been a champion of Bitcoin and its incarnations, having recently backed OpenCoin, the developer of open source payment protocol, Ripple, for example.
Now Liew and other VCs are ready to ante up and continue to put their money where their mouths are by helping to establish the “Boost Bitcoin Fund.” The Fund, Draper exaplins, is a follow-on or “start” fund for all Bitcoin companies that graduate from the accelerator program. Each of the fifteen companies in Boost’s cohorts receives $15K in seed capital (in exchange for a 5 percent equity stake), but with the new fund, Bitcoin startups will receive an additional $50K investment upon completing the program.
The fund is anchored by Lightspeed, Rothenberg Ventures, The Bitcoin Opportunity Fund and Beluga founder Ben Davenport, all of which have begun to invest more aggressively in Bitcoin startups. Draper says that the team began to toy with the idea of a follow-on fund when the founders decided to accept seven Bitcoin startups into its summer session.
In floating the idea for a Bitcoin Start Fund to the investment community, the team was surprised by the warm reception that followed. In fact, Draper says, the capital came together in a week. With the Bitcoin movement continuing to gain steam, both entrepreneurs and investors are eagerly jumping into the space and testing new ideas in hopes of finding business models that will stick.
True to form, Draper says that the Boost.vc team is fully “committed to pushing Bitcoin toward becoming the next digital frontier.” Even if, as part of that experiment, the eight startups not focused on Bitcoin have to look on with envy as the other half of their cohort pockets an additional $50K at the end of the program.
Not only that, but as part of moving to commit (half of) itself to the vertical, Boost.vc will be bringing in “a number of Bitcoin-focused mentors,” including Davenport, who has recently dedicated himself to the space, along with additional speakers, experts and investors.
As a testament to the growing interest in the Bitcoin market, the digital currency now has its own conference, Bitcoin 2013, which is scheduled to take place this weekend in San Jose. Naturally, the conference will also play host to a Bitcoin-focused hackathon, and Draper tells us that Boost.vc plans to pick one of the seven startups that will participate in its program from the field.
As to the program: Applications for Boost.vc’s second cohort are being accepted on a rolling basis, with a final deadline of June 1st. The program will kick off June 24th, concluding in a demo day in the middle of September (the date has yet to be set). Those interested in applying can do so here.
BDC Venture Capital, the leading major investment firm for accelerators in Canada, announced today that it would add its financial and expert support to ongoing Canadian Technology Accelerator programs being run in the U.S. by the Canadian government. The programs, spread across various major tech hubs, including Boston, Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco, give Canadian startups the U.S. face time they need to make connections and product sales.
BDC says that the goal is to get the Canadian startups with the most potential into a high-growth market as effectively as possible and says this is a natural extension of its work with Canadian-based accelerators and incubators, including GrowLab, Extreme Startups, Hyperdrive and Founder Fuel. BDC’s Montreal VP Senia Rapisarda explained that, while while some of the most “venture-ready” startups participating in the CTA program will be eligible for its convertible note options for financial support”, this is more about providing an experience for startups that they might not otherwise have.
“We understand that we can bring companies up to a certain level [with our Canada-based accelerators],” she said. “But then, the U.S. clearly being the first port of entry in terms of customers, it really made a lot of sense to pair up with the CTAs in New York, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia who were so close to customers that at that point a company could be seriously accelerated.”
Rapisarda uses an example an enterprise software startup that gained access to Fortune 500 companies located in New York and the Bay area through the program, where they were better able to learn exactly what those companies needed and then tailor their offerings for them. Overall, the whole program is about treating companies not as specifically “American” or “Canadian,” but about going after opportunity where it’s biggest, in order to give them the best start possible.
BDC is sending the “best of the crop” to these CTAs, she said, which is “producing results quite quickly.” The approach they’re taking is akin to how you run a startup, Rapisarda says. BDC is treating each case individually and tailoring its approaches to the vertical or industry of each startup they send in terms of how long they’ll stay in the U.S. and what kind of mentors they need and connections they’ll make. She says it’s about being flexible, and “evaluating” and “pivoting” the same way early stage startups do to properly meet the market’s needs. In other words, BDC Venture is very keen on eating its own dogfood when it comes to running these international accelerator efforts.
One key area to watch in the future is how Canada’s Startup Visa program affects the international dynamics of early stage companies, and of accelerators. “What I think is interesting is to see the impact of the Startup Visa on Canadian companies, which are able now to attract even more talent from different countries,” she said. “And how that will impact the relationship with the United States in terms of markets, because clearly the most promising markets are then South America, India and China.”
For now though, the U.S. remains the major gateway for Canadian businesses, and initiatives like this one hope to help them make sure that companies with the strength to succeed in that market get the chance to prove it.
According to Y Combinator’s estimates, today, there are more than 100 startup accelerators in the U.S., which is almost awe-inspiring considering that there were only four as recently as 2007. While the number of accelerators and incubators continues to rise, popping up in nearly every vertical, Education has been slower to get the memo.
However, with early-stage capital beginning to pile into the EdTech space, it happens to be an excellent time to start an education company. Of course, it’s not as easy to start an EdTech company as “wanting to change the world.” Luckily, over the last year, we’ve seen a reversal of the trend, with a handful of education-focused accelerators opening their doors. Even the 70-year-old Kaplan and publishing giants like Pearson have hopped on the train.
Today, one of the veteran EdTech accelerators is adding significantly more fuel to the fire, with its very own Start Fund. Taking a page out of the TechStars and Y Combinator incubation texts, Imagine K12 launched in 2011 to offer support to education-focused founders in the form of a little seed capital — $14K to $20K in exchange for six percent equity — alongside mentoring, coaching and free workspace. Now, two years later, the accelerator is kicking funding for each startup up to $100K.
Initially, as we wrote last year, founders Geoff Ralston, Tim Brady and Alan Louie weren’t sure that the accelerator model would jive with education. But, in spite of early reservations, Imagine K12 received 100 applications for its first batch, and it’s been struggling to keep up with the interest since.
In October, Imagine K12 graduated its third cohort of startups, bringing its total to 30 companies, with 9 more set to join its fourth batch.
The founders tell us that Imagine K12 startups have raised more than $30 million collectively thus far and that products created by Imagine K12 grads are now in use in more than 400K classrooms. Notable and quick-growing graduates include ClassDojo and Educreations, which up until its third batch had been its two “most successful incubations,” the founders said, with ClassDojo reaching over 4 million teachers and raising $1.5 million from Paul Graham, Ron Conway, Jeff Clavier, Flixter CEO Joe Greenstein, OpenFeint Founder Jason Citron, Start Fund and General Catalyst — to name a few.
Educreations, in kind, has taken its whiteboard tutorial creator to over 12,000 schools in 117 countries and has raised $2.2 million from Accel and NewSchools Ventures, among others. From its most recent batch, NoRedInk is already beginning to stand out, having raised some early seed money and having begun to scale rapidly since we last wrote about the grammar-mastering startup in October.
Today, Imagine K12 is looking to make these startups the norm rather than the exception, by giving them the runway they need to take their businesses to the next level. And, for better and for worse, that starts with seed capital. Going forward, each Imagine K12 startup will receive $100,000 upon acceptance into its program — an $80K to $88K hike when compared to the seed capital behind its first three batches.
The new capital comes out of Imagine K12 Start Fund, a new fund launched by the accelerator’s founders, thanks to contributions from investors like Paul Graham, Yahoo co-founder David Filo, Angela Filo, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig, NewSchools Venture Fund and GSV Asset Management.
The accelerator’s new fund now puts the capital offered on par with TechStars and Y Combinator — each of which has their own version of the “Start Fund.” In fact, Imagine K12 will now offer more seed capital than YC’s new fund, YC VC, which offers $80K per startup.
With the new starter investment, each Imagine K12 company will now receive up to $20K directly from Imagine K12, along with a convertible note for $80K from its Start Fund — the size of which the founders attribute to “the early success of its graduates.”
“Imagine K12 companies have invented products that are now used by over 10 percent of US teachers,” Brady says, and the additional funds will give companies a longer runway to build out their products, partner with teachers and try to overturn the legacy, broken infrastructure that still runs rampant in education today.
Startup Alley is the loud and boisterous marketplace of Disrupt. Young companies, huddled around cocktail tables demoing their wares, are vying for attention and a spot on the Disrupt stage. All of these startups are amazing and we invite you to visit with this amazing group at Disrupt NY later this month.
We have startups covering nearly every category, including separate pavilions for Brazilian, Israeli and Italian companies. The first two days will feature web startups covering media, mobile, lifestyle, enterprise, and many more. Then, on Wednesday May 1st, hardware companies will take over the Manhattan Center’s exhibit hall for Hardware Alley, our semi-annual celebration of gizmos and gadgets.
The full list of Startup Alley and Hardware Alley companies is here.
These companies are also fighting to demo in front of Disrupt judges on Monday and Tuesday. If selected as the Audience Choice, they’re fast tracked to the Startup Battlefield where they compete for the Disrupt Cup and $50,000 grand prize.
How can you attend?
You can find out more at the Disrupt event page but the gist is this: the event runs from April 29th – May 1st. We’re running a pre-event 24-hour hackathon for folks who want to get one free ticket but, as it stands, you still have the opportunity to pick up a ticket to the show. Or better yet, get a Startup Alley and Hardware Alley package and show off your startup. Packages are available here.
Accelerators, VCs and industry/government associations who would like to partner with us and bring a group of startups either to Disrupt SF or Disrupt Berlin, please email email@example.com
Sponsors: Our sponsors help make Disrupt happen. If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact our sponsorship team here firstname.lastname@example.org