Claudia Reuter, General Manager for Techstars Americas East, spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about the Stanley Black & Decker and Techstars collaboration and the advantages of participating in the Hartford-based startup accelerator.
NAN PRICE: Tell us a little about your role with Techstars.
CLAUDIA REUTER: With the work I do at Techstars, I’m able to combine the skills I’ve learned both as a founder who has raised capital and as an executive inside a big company. So, I can help founders understand how to move their businesses forward. I can also provide insight into how to run large teams, understand a budget, build projects, and think about how to position your product to add the most value to your organization.
I love that I get to help in a way that I wish I’d had access to when I was starting a company and also provide founders with valuable things I’ve learned from working inside a big company. Especially since we have a partnership here with Stanley Black & Decker, which is another large organization.
NAN: Let’s talk about the partnership between Stanley Black & Decker and Techstars.
CLAUDIA: Senior leadership at Stanley Black & Decker and Techstars decided to form a partnership because they both have a vested interest in innovation and the ecosystem development that’s happening here in Connecticut.
Leadership at Stanley Black & Decker recognized that there are potential opportunities and disruptions with things like additive manufacturing and 3D printing and there’s an emerging need for a focus on sustainability and sustainable packaging. They are visionary thinking about what’s coming next. And they’re thoughtful enough to realize they wanted to partner with an organization like Techstars to identify startups on the cutting edge in those areas. The partnership enables Stanley Black & Decker to build connections and access founders who may be working on things a large organization hasn’t had an opportunity to research or develop.
On the Techstars side, we’re focused on our accelerator, where we bring in 10 companies at a time. For us, the partnership is beneficial because we’re able to identify a vertical focus for the accelerator program, which enables us to be very strategic when we consider startups for the program.
NAN: Explain the selection process and the accelerator program overall.
CLAUDIA: It’s a very selective program. Techstars is considered one of the most prestigious accelerators in the world. We’ve invested in more than 1,900 companies and, within our portfolio companies, there’s more than $22 billion in market capital.
Techstars makes an investment in each accelerator company, which means it’s advantageous to everyone that the companies are successful. So, they receive initial funding of $120,000, more than $1 million in resources and benefits, and access to our worldwide network of mentors and investors.
NAN: Tell us more about Techstars’ global reach.
CLAUDIA: Techstars is a worldwide network designed to help entrepreneurs succeed. We do that through four different divisions. We have a venture arm that has more than $215 million under management focused on making investments in companies at various stages. Then there’s a corporate innovation program that focuses on helping these large organizations further develop their strategies. We have community-driven programs known as Startup Week and Startup Weekend, which are designed to help foster entrepreneurship in communities. And then we have our accelerator division.
Techstars runs 50 accelerators around the world. About half of our programs run with corporations. So, from a startup founder’s perspective, you’re gaining access to the same quality program where no more than 10 companies are accepted at a time, no matter what Techstars program you’re accepted into. The difference is on the vertical focus or the relationship potential with that particular corporate partner.
For example, if you’re accepted into the STANLEY+Techstars Accelerator in Hartford, you become part of the Techstars network worldwide, so you can connect with other programs, as well. There’s long-term value, too. After the 13-week program, the companies remain in the worldwide Techstars network for life.
NAN: What’s the incentive for global companies to participate in STANLEY+Techstars Accelerator in Hartford?
CLAUDIA: Every time you bring in new people with new ideas from diverse backgrounds to the area, it makes for a richer environment. We can already see that unfolding. Last year, four of the 10 companies we accepted into the accelerator program decided to make a presence here in Connecticut.
Startups coming from all over the world, including other parts of the United States, realize they have access to everything they need to run their businesses here in Hartford. Through the accelerator, they’re connected to large corporations like Stanley Black & Decker, United Technologies Corporation, and Pratt & Whitney. And the cost of living is so much lower than it would be in Boston or New York—but they’re still close enough to do business with those neighboring cities. It becomes a very attractive value proposition once people see what it’s like here in Hartford.