The Power of Mentorship

Techstars recently graduated its 3,000th company. We’ve helped our portfolio to raise $23.5 billion in total funding—and this year we’ll fund 700+ new companies through 54 accelerators around the world.

As many in the startup world already know, mentors are a key element of the success of Techstars-funded companies.

When I reflect on how we got here, I think it’s important to reflect on how important mentors have been to Techstars itself.

One of my key early mentors was Bill Warner. If you’ve ever edited a video, you’ve likely used the technology that he developed at Avid.

One night, when Techstars was barely one year old, I told Bill over dinner that I was unclear about how we would make money long-term. Perhaps Techstars was just a fun summer gig, I suggested.

Right then, Bill said something to me that truly resonated and has stuck with me ever since.

He told me that as long as Techstars stayed focused on its “center flow,” other “co-flows” would appear around it.

What did that mean?

What he explained to me was that the “center flow” was crucial. It was the passion or the “why” of Techstars.

I told him that our “center flow” was helping entrepreneurs succeed and that was the “why” behind creating Techstars.

Great, he said. Focus hard on that and stay focused over time and watch the co-flows appear around it.

And that’s the true power of mentorship.

A few words delivered at the exact right moment—and fully heard by the intended recipient—can have the power to validate a vision or, if necessary, make a crucial adjustment.

I’m proud of what Techstars has built and accomplished.

Today, we have incredible leaders and teams around the world doing amazing things that I couldn’t have predicted 14 years ago.

But we’re still committed to our center flow—helping entrepreneurs succeed—even as we discover and develop new co-flows around our central mission.

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