In a couple of years, Techstars might have 6-8 locations in Europe

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Yesterday, I attended a fireside chat with Jon Bradford in Vienna. Jon is not only a funny guy, but mainly someone who helps European startups as a mentor and/or investor.

Jon said he quit his job as Managing Director of Techstars in London, but will remain very close to Techstars. He was in Vienna to meet Techstars portfolio company Codeship and also to promote Techstars Berlin which is opening and accepting applications. Techstars Berlin will be managed by Jens Lepinski (B2B genius) and Brian Daly, another two smart and helpful mentors. Jon is also cofounder of f6s and tech.eu. He invests mainly via Eleven which he co-founded with smart guys from Bulgaria.

Jon spoke about what he had learned from mentoring entrepreneurs throughout his career. Here are some notes I made:

  • Techstars could possibly run 6–8 programs in Europe in a couple of years. Currently, London and Berlin
  • Apply to accelerators as early as possible. Too early is not bad. You can try several times but must show progress
  • His focus is on 5 criteria — Team, Team, Team, Opportunity, Team
  • Teams aplying to accelerators should be confident that they want support
  • Very young founders should seek help of experienced mentors
  • Techstars now works more closely with corporations. Corporate accelerators are cool as long as they are outside the company. Good accelerators: Barlclays (fintech, London for retail and NY for investment banking), Disney (entertainment), Qualcomm (robotics, drones) etc.
  • It is good when you move your startup team to a new location — less distractions
  • Do not count on official applications, hustle Jon in person before the program starts. That will increase chances to be accepted
  • Learn from drug dealers — relationships with clients, product distribution, lifetime value of customer, etc.
  • Do not want to be afraid of NO answers. Avoid polite people who do not give true feedback
  • What is hot? Fintech, connected devices, fashion entertainment. Now — internet behind piece of glass, future — “Internet of everything”
  • Be disruptive! Challenge status quo!
  • One secret startup idea he gave to Austrians — Uber for condoms ☺