Techstars - Corporate Innovation Practice Programs
Techstars’ corporate innovation practice programs include corporate accelerators, innovation bootcamps, the Techstars Studio program, network engagement programs, and network sponsorships/ partnerships. Further information surrounding these programs, including their structure, costs, benefits, value, length, and the possibility of working at corporate headquarters, are provided below.
- Techstars was running 49 accelerator programs in 35 cities in 16 countries in July 2019.
- The program will require a “multi-year commitment” from partners, which includes an annual accelerator event with 10 carefully selected startups.
- The program begins by working closely with Techstars to hire a Managing Director from Techstars’ network and working on identifying and defining the corporate’s challenges, needs, market, and establishing Key Performance Indicators, KPIs to align the right innovation and disruption.
- Then Techstars will lead the search for startups, through a 2-month window for applications and interview to select 10 startups that will participate in the 3 months/ 13 weeks mentor-driven accelerator program.
- Selected startups will receive a $120,000 investment with a 6% stake in equity, which may be split into 4% by Techstars and 2% by the corporate partner.
- They will also receive intensive mentorship from leaders from the corporate partner and Techstars alumni.
- During the program, the selected startups will move to the city which their corporate partner is based in, and can work either in Techstars’ location or the corporate partner’s headquarters.
- Corporate partners are advised to work closely with the selected startups, providing tools, equipment, facilities and opportunity to try out their solutions directly in day-to-day operations throughout the 3 months.
- The program ends with one or even two demo-day(s), either private within the corporate or by an invitation to their network of industry leaders or press.
- While official costs of such accelerator programs are not made public, several unverified sources put a range between $1.0-2.5 million per accelerator, depending on location.
- Corporate partners invest in such programs to have the first chance to observe potential innovations or disruptions in areas of interest that they would have missed otherwise. They also have the prerogative to invest or not in the 10 startups with no obligation from either party.
- Some in the industry see such corporate accelerator programs to be a more cost-effective initiative to drive innovation compared to traditional research and development (R&D) if strategic motives and company structure are aligned. This is mainly because of the much reduced time and cost of experimentation compared to a decade ago.
- Innovation Bootcamps were introduced by Techstars in September 2018.
- Different from the accelerator program, innovation bootcamps focuses on internal innovation by empowering employees in large corporations to drive innovation.
- This is done through a 3-day/ 54-hour event where cross-functional teams are formed, and then mentored and practice startup methodologies to build solutions.
- In the end, teams will pitch business innovations to a panel of judges comprising Techstars experts and corporate partner leaders to select innovations that are best to be further advanced.
- Some companies extend the Bootcamp to a 6-week program where selected projects were accelerated by allowing the teams to work on their ideas on 50% of company time.
- Techstars will provide mentorship, training sessions, and product development approaches from expert Techstars facilitators.
- Participating employees get to develop new tools and frameworks while growing with the company.
- Equinor, one of the corporation partners observed three key benefits of the program, exposing employees to startup culture, rapid assembly of meaningful innovations ready to be invested, and a stronger engagement between the innovation and business teams.
- Official costs of such innovation bootcamps from Techstars are not made public.
- Techstars Studio was introduced in January 2019.
- The program will develop and launch venture-scale businesses with the support of corporate partners targeting specific areas of interest within their industry.
- Individuals/ corporate partners may choose to submit ideas/ concepts that they’d like Techstars to work on.
- Selected ideas will be refined by Techstars’ network of entrepreneurs. After that, a vendor within their global network will be selected to build the product.
- Different from the accelerator program, Techstars Studio will contribute the team and budget to startups at the concept stage and directly participate in validating, building and launching the venture.
- Applying founders/ corporate partners will enjoy the convenience, speed to market, unlimited capacity to build, and an enormous proven entrepreneurial talent network.
- In exchange, they might have to give up IP ownership and a considerable stake in the new venture.
- Each participating corporate partner will pay an annual membership fee to have an early look and receive updates at Techstars Studio projects.
- While Techstars plans to launch four to five startups from its Studio program this year, they have not disclosed how long the program took from concept to launch of the venture.
- Official location and costs of Techstars Studio from Techstars are not made public.
Network Engagement Program
- Network Engagement Programs were introduced in September 2018.
- The program is designed to connect corporate partners with startups for potential collaboration opportunities in various stages of identifying internal challenges, implement proof-of-concept solutions, scale new technologies and expand their portfolios.
- A dedicated Network Engagement Manager will help corporate partners research, engage, and invest in the world’s most promising startups aligned with predefined strategic goals, innovation metrics, and KPIs.
- If proven, then corporate partners may choose to collaborate, invest, merge, or acquire startups.
- Companies like QBE are leveraging on Techstars’ proven network of promising startup founders and inject initial investment, business development, and mentoring to help them grow.
- No official information on costs, program length, and location of the program can be found.
Network sponsorships/ partnerships
- Corporate partners can choose to partner/sponsor events that are organized by Techstars like Startup Weekends and Startup Weeks.
- Startup Weekends are programs similar to Innovation Bootcamps but are open to the public instead of internal employees only.
- Startup Weeks are five-day events that feature speakers and topics curated by local organizers to motivate and inspire the local entrepreneurial community in different cities. Participants of Startup Weeks look to gain education, useful connections and a supportive network that can help them succeed.
- Techstars promote that such events can help develop a corporate partner’s network and the local community, drive customer acquisition and brand awareness.
- To date, Techstars had organized Startup Weekends in 630 cities including in headquarters of companies.
- The official costs of such partnership/sponsorship with Techstars are not made public.
We've attempted to cover all of Techstars' corporate innovation practice programs mentioned previously. The Startup Ecosystem Development program was excluded as it caters to the interests of local communities and made no official reference to corporate partners.
We could not find any official/ reliable information for the costs for any of the programs discussed above. The information is probably withheld to maintain a competitive advantage for both Techstars and their corporate partners. We then attempted to derive the cost based on any allocated percentage of the innovation/research and development budgets of participating corporates. That attempt failed as we’ve discovered no public information regarding official allocation percentage specifically to Techstars only, nor were we able to discern the cost of each separate program as partners usually participate in multiple programs. We then tried to triangulate the cost based on the classification of Techstars’ revenue by program. This attempt also failed as we’ve found no public information regarding the breakdown of Techstars’ revenue by program nor how many actual clients they served in total for specific programs. With such attempts, we conclude that up to date/ reliable information for the costs of these programs cannot be found in the public domain.
We could not find any official/ reliable information for the program length and specific examples of whether work can be carried out in HQ location for Techstars Studio and the Network Engagement Programs. This probably due to the variable and extended scope of the programs which may or may not cover proof of concept, product development, the launch of venture or merger or acquisition. Another possible reason is the relatively short time frame of one year since the official launch of these programs. We tried to triangulate the information by observing and averaging from indirect involvement or case studies of such programs. Our attempt to triangulate such information failed when we discovered that there was no public information given on the specific concepts, ventures or acquisition that resulted from these programs. Our second attempt to triangulate such information was to find out the examples of location and the average time that other Techstars accelerated startups not in this program, used to cover proof of concept, the launch of venture or acquisition. This attempt also failed as no reliable data can be found on the topic to be worked on.