TechStars Honchos David Cohen & Andy Sack: The Post-Demo Day Download

11/7/11Follow @xconomy

If you want a glimpse at the leading edge of tech startups, TechStars Demo Day is a fine place to go prospecting. In just 60 minutes of total pitch time, you’ve got a damn good idea of the industries, customers, ideas, and technologies that top entrepreneurs and investors think are ripe for innovation.

And the accelerator phenomenon itself is certainly part of that picture. Organizers say attendance at pitch day was up significantly this year, as was the number of applicants—700 startups vying for just 10 spots, compared with 400 in 2010’s inaugural Seattle class. That growth comes as we’ve seen a big spike in the overall incubator/accelerator scene nationally, with increasing competition for getting into the top programs.

I’ve already posted the most complete rundown anywhere of Seattle Demo Day 2011, and you can also find quick snapshots, links, and founder contacts at this handy page put together by the group.

Today, we’re throwing in some extra insight from the head honchos themselves: TechStars CEO and founder David Cohen and TechStars Seattle director Andy Sack, who we interviewed right after the pitches wrapped up Thursday night.

One clear trend in the companies presenting in this year’s class, Cohen said, is the use of social media as platforms to build businesses that could have some substance, coming up with “new and interesting ways to actually monetize” all that sharing.

“So companies like Bluebox or Vizify are taking advantage of this proliferation of consumer data and the sharing that’s going on to drive that value back to businesses,” Cohen said. “That’s certainly a trend that continues to be the case. I think four years ago, it was all the social stuff coming out. This is the actual application of it for business.

David Cohen

Another reflection of the mood of investors is the presence of “very real businesses that have very clear revenue models—things like EveryMove. There’s a lot of money being spent in health care. Those guys are tapping into that,” Cohen said. “I think what investors want today are businesses that have a revenue model that they can understand, but that take advantage of the cool, hot, new, and social to really leverage it.”

“The other trend that you’re going to see more and more of—I know TechStars is looking at it—is the area I would call human-computer interaction. Broadly, I would throw robots into that, which you saw with Romotive,” Cohen said.

“You take this guy,” he said, holding up a smartphone, “that we’ve all spent money on, and you figure out other cool stuff to do with it. Or you take the iTouch that your kid has and you figure out how to … Next Page »

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