August 17, 2022
The Techstars Chicago 13 week facilitation program for their company founder “Class of 2022” is nearing the end, and the finale is Demo Day – during which the participating companies pitch their product or service to potential investors – coming in two weeks on Thursday, September 1st. This will be the first in-person Demo Day in three years, invite only, but if any of the IVCA membership are interested on the investor side, click this link for details and registration.
Techstars Chicago is an annual mentorship course that allows those entrepreneurs, start-ups and companies to participate in a 13 week forum that teaches them how to improve and execute their business ideas. It culminates on Demo Day, an opportunity for the participants to pitch their businesses to interested investors based on what they’ve learned. For a list of the participating Class of 2022, click here.
Techstars is based in Boulder, Colorado, and has a global footprint. The Chicago branch began locally as Excelerate Labs – which was the brainchild of Sandbox Industries, the I2A Fund, Sam Yagan (OK Cupid, Sparknotes) and Troy Henikoff – before it merged with Techstars in 2013. Troy Henikoff was the primary Managing Director until Logan LaHive took the reins in 2017. The current Managing Director is Neal Salés-Griffin, an associate in Venture Capital and a Chicago founder, who began in July of 2019, and has guided the program through the pandemic era to another in-person event.
For a brief overview of Demo Day, the IVCA reached out to the Techstars Chicago Investment Associate Brad Schnitzer.
IVCA: This is Techstars Chicago first in-person Demo Day in three years. What will be familiar to past participants, and how will you be changing it up a bit for this class and their pitches?
Brad Schnitzer: We couldn’t be more excited to be back in person for the first time since our 2018 Demo Day. The venue, 1871’s auditorium, will be familiar to past participants. However, the format will be new and hopefully more engaging for the audience.
IVCA: How was the summer mentorship and facilitation program for the companies that participated? What kind of feedback did you get from the participant companies and mentors during the course of the program?
Schnitzer: We have a very special group this summer. We have continued to build upon our selection process and believe we found 12 teams that are eager to learn, test, and iterate. We have a group of founders willing to make mistakes and ultimately learn from those mistakes. This has been echoed across the board by our mentors this summer.
IVCA: What is the value for potential investors if they were to participate in Demo Day? Is there anything they need to know before going into the event?
Schnitzer: We believe investors will really appreciate our new format. We will still have fun, however, we are focusing on addressing the most pressing questions our founders will need to answer as they look to raise their next round of funding. Investors will also have time to meet the teams and interact with one another … we know it’s been a while for many!
IVCA: Finally, beyond funding possibilities, why is it a great idea for the IVCA membership to interact with Demo Day?
Schnitzer: If IVCA members want to be involved in Techstars Chicago, please do not hesitate to reach out. We have several opportunities to mentor, host workshops, or join a community event. Or you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Demo Day that culminates the Techstars Chicago program will be on September 1st, 2022, at the 1871 Auditorium, Merchandise Mart, Chicago (click link above for info and registration). For more information about TechStars Chicago, click here.