MD Conference: Santa Monica 2013

Twice a year Global Accelerator Network Managing Directors gather in one spot for a biannual meeting of the minds. This event is a highlight of the year as members always brings great ideas, discussions of best practices, constructive debate and fun as we gather together over a few quick days.

I’ve compiled a few highlights to share on the blog with the community:

Giving first pays dividends.
Jon Bradford; Techstars Managing Director in London, cofounder of F6S and all around European accelerator phenom, shared about how openness and willingness to help others have been his keystone to success. While growing Springboard (now Techstars London) he consistently has sought to do best by entrepreneurs, to create opportunity for others and that putting the ecosystem first is good for everyone, including the accelerator operator.

All VCs are not created alike. Neither are all accelerators.
In a discussion with David Cohen and John Greathouse we dug into the accelerator–VC relationship. While John shared tips for accelerator management looking to improve their relationships with VCs, David shared lessons he’s learned on engaging VCs in your accelerator. With both sides encouraging discernment when selecting with whom to engage two suggestions stuck out:

For accelerators engaging VCs, David advises seeking investors who practice the ethos of the program. For Techstars this means others who truly believe in giving first and aren’t just looking for take, take, take.

John Greathouse encouraged accelerator teams to create opportunities for investors to engage and learn with the program to foster a feeling of ownership and involvement.

Everybody wants a can of startup juice.
A discussion on the corporate-accelerator relationships 5 years ago likely would have been titled “Sponsorships”. Not anymore. Corporations are now engaging with accelerators and their teams in a bevvy of ways from mentoring or sponsorships to partnering with existing programs to creating their own internal and external accelerator programs.

Liam Casey, CEO of PCH International and Dave Drach, VP of Business Development of Techstars shared with the group their lessons learned from blending accelerators with corporations:

  • Ensure any collaboration is a win-win for both sides
  • Understand and be clear of both parties intentions before engaging
  • Always be specific on how each party can support and execute on expectations

Community can be anywhere- but it doesn’t develop overnight.
We were incredibly fortunate to be joined by Nate Redmond of Rustic Canyon Ventures to share his experience as a catalyst in the flourising Los Angeles startup ecosystem. As many communities around the world look to build their own thriving startup community, Nate’s insight was incredibly valuable. Nate shared 6 lessons learned in his experience:

  • Nurture founders
  • Build a talent pipeline
  • Connect mentors (advice>capital)
  • Curate excellence to reach MES
  • Take long view (25 years)
  • Capital is fluid

Thanks again to each of our speakers, attendees, MuckerLab and Launchpad LA for hosting us this year. We’re already looking forward to our next gathering in Spring of 2014 in London.