Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars Lifts Student-Led Ventures With New Cohort Program

Being a student entrepreneur comes with a unique set of challenges. Student founders need guidance from a community that understands not just what it takes to build a company, but how to balance—and get the most out of—being both a full-time student and a full-time entrepreneur. As part of their mission to help student entrepreneurs succeed, Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars is launching the inaugural 2019 LaunchPad Lift Cohort, a personalized mentorship-driven program for LaunchPad student-led ventures from the United States and Ireland.

“The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars entrepreneurship program offers students valuable on-campus support through content and mentors. Through this program, Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, is dedicated to supporting those students through the entrepreneurial journey from inspiration to IPO,” said David Cohen, Co-CEO of Techstars.

LaunchPad Lift will help bridge the gap between the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars programming available on each college campus and the next big steps student-led ventures need for their companies. Whether the ventures are planning to apply to an accelerator program, raise capital, or make their first hire, the LaunchPad Lift Cohort takes ventures through a personalized experience with an assigned Techstars mentor to help them succeed. In addition, ventures will be exposed to experts from the Techstars network who will share their best practices on building a business.

We asked some of our LaunchPad student-led venture founders to tell us about the impact of the program. Here’s what one wrote: “Our Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars mentors have been critical to our success. Between mentorship and connections, we have grown and accelerated our progress tenfold by being a part of this community!”

We’re excited to announce that seven student-led ventures, who presented at the 2018 LaunchPad Training Camp, were selected to join the inaugural LaunchPad Lift Cohort. These seven ventures are from the LaunchPad Global Network and the founders represent seven schools in four states and two countries, with ventures in seven distinct industries. Additionally, over 50% of the startups in the 2019 LaunchPad Lift Cohort have diverse founding teams that include women and people of color.

Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars selected these ventures based on several factors: live pitches and peer voting at the LaunchPad Training Camp, mentor feedback, and a review process conducted by the Blackstone and Techstars team to assess the strength of each team’s business model and concept, coach-ability, and venture stage, as well as the team’s passion and their ability to fully utilize a mentor to grow.

“Over the course of the 2018 LaunchPad Training Camp, I had the opportunity to meet with ventures from over twenty universities, hear their pitches, and get to know the entrepreneurs. I was incredibly impressed by these student ventures—the diversity of ideas, the commitment to entrepreneurship, and the potential for scalable impact were all exceptional,” said Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

LaunchPad Lift will run for 10 weeks, from January 28 through April 1, 2019. Each participating student-led venture will receive a $10,000 grant upon program completion, and join the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars team at a closing event in New York City.

Meet the Seven Ventures:

CALM (Temple): CALM is a small device that uses pulses of vibrations to influence the brain and de-escalate rising stress and anxiety attacks.

Combplex (Cornell): Combplex is an innovative solution to beekeepers’ number one problem, eliminating the parasites killing their bees.

Lazarus (Texas A&M): Lazarus provides a unique degree of lethality by designing projectiles that penetrate a threat, then minimize blood loss post-penetration in order to preserve life.

My Wellbeing (NYU): My Wellbeing connects therapy-seekers to compatible therapist and coach matches in NYC.

Petitas (USC): Petitas LA is a clothing brand by and for petite, professional women.

Shower Stream (UT Austin): The Shower Stream is a smart shower head adapter that installs as easily as a light bulb, saves water waste, proves the savings via the web, and is completely unobtrusive to the user.

NUA Surgical (NUI Galway): NUA Surgical is developing a novel medical device to make caesarean delivery a safer and more superior surgery.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars partnership increases the chances for collegiate ventures to succeed by ensuring they have the resources they need to thrive. The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars entrepreneurship program is accessible by over 500,000 college students globally and designed to support and mentor students, staff, and alumni entrepreneurs regardless of major, experience, or discipline.

Our New Entrepreneurship Program with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation

Today’s students are more entrepreneurial than their parents. Generation Z’s teens are less likely to get jobs in restaurants or retail stores; they’re creating their own sites and using digital media to build small businesses from babysitting and tutoring services to food and beverage and fashion businesses. As students look to university and beyond university, they are not aspiring to traditional corporate jobs.

As David Cohen often says, “Entrepreneurship is not just a life choice, but it’s also a career choice.”

– David Cohen Co-Founder and Co-CEO Techstars

Being an entrepreneur is hard: it gets easier if you have a strong network, work with mentors and learn best practices. That’s exactly how Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed — at every stage of their journey.

Techstars and Blackstone Charitable Foundation Partnership

With a shared purpose in being catalysts in innovation and sparking entrepreneurship in students, Techstars and Blackstone Charitable Foundation are partnering to expand the capabilities of Blackstone LaunchPad programs to accelerate the chances of success for these collegiate entrepreneurs.  

This innovative partnership will enable Blackstone LaunchPad to scale beyond the existing current campus network of 20 universities to reach more than one million new students during the next three years.

Accelerating Collegiate Entrepreneurs

Beginning in 2018, Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, will provide Blackstone LaunchPad participants:

  • Access to the Techstars network of more than 10,000 mentors
  • Invitations to signature events
  • Education through Techstars’ world-renowned content and startup services

In addition, the Techstars network will help student entrepreneurs with:

  • Investment fundraising
  • Job placement
  • Recruitment

All of these opportunities and resources are seldom available to campus-based entrepreneurship programs, yet are crucial to the long term success of ventures

“Over the past 10 years, the collegiate entrepreneurship landscape has changed dramatically.  I am proud of the robust network we have built across the Blackstone LaunchPad global network.  As we look to the future, Techstars is a perfect partner for Blackstone. Their expertise in supporting entrepreneurs and their robust network will meaningfully expand our support for student entrepreneurs on a global scale.  I am thrilled that we have found a like-minded organization to work with us in support of a shared goal of increasing global economic impact through entrepreneurship.”

– Amy Stursberg, Executive Director, Blackstone Charitable Foundation

What is Blackstone LaunchPad?

Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus-based experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni, staff and faculty offering coaching, ideation and venture creation support. It is modeled on a successful program originated at the University of Miami and was further developed and expanded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. For more information, see

Join Techstars in Las Vegas for CES 2018

It’s almost time to kick off another year at The International Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas! We are proud to partner with CES to present the Startup Stage in Eureka Park. Join us January 9th-11th for exclusive startup programming, pitch competitions, and the opportunity to connect and network with entrepreneurs and other people within the startup community.

At the Startup Stage, we will feature prominent entrepreneurs, investors, and Techstars staff, partners, and alumni. To help you grow your company and engage with the startup community, the Techstars worldwide network will be providing content and resources all week at Startup Stage. Throughout the conference we will discuss the latest topics in startups and consumer electronics, including how to find your path to market, crowdfund, and leverage big brands.

Looking to get your startup in front of our audience and judges? We are also hosting Startup Stage Pitch Competitions! This is your opportunity to pitch, receive feedback, and win prizes. Click here to register and to learn more about the competitions!

Check out some of the events below (full agenda here). See you in Las Vegas!

Tuesday, January 9th

11-11:45 AM INDIEGOGO – Entrepreneurship 202: bringing a product to life

From concept, to market validation, to shipping, and to retail, bringing a product to life is full of unexpected challenges. Join other entrepreneurs and experts to share their best advice or how to build your innovations into a successful business.

1-1:45 PM Smart Cities/CityOS  

Smart Cities/CityOS will feature startups and big brands that are accelerating both access to data that can benefit citizens and reduce barriers to entry and increase productivity at the level of the city.

2:00 PM – 2:45PM Finding Your Path to Market  

In this panel discussion, led by Ryan Broshar, Managing Director of the Techstars Retail Accelerator, in partnership with Target, hear industry experts from Indiegogo, Target, and others discuss how you can assess alternatives to market and manage your process for success.

3-4:30 PM Pitch Competition: Retail

Wednesday, January 10th

11-11:45 AM How Emerging Technologies Are Building a Better World

From robotics and drones to emerging use cases of AR/VR and blockchain, learn how entrepreneurs are leveraging innovative technologies to build business models aimed at solving some of our most pressing global challenges at scale.

1-1:45 PM Learn from profitable and fundable hardware startups

Hardware startups are experiencing monumental challenges: unfavorable fundraising environment, lack of role model companies, and lack of mentorship and guidance. These profitable early-stage hardware founders share battle stories and best practices around setting your company for success from day 1.

2-2:45 PM Music tech isn’t just music tech anymore

Music is fast becoming a technical business. “Music tech” means using technology for more than streaming — music startups are reinventing content creation, marketing, commerce and the live experience.

3-4:30 PM Pitch Competition: Entertainment  

Thursday, January 11th

11-11:45 AM Great companies start anywhere

Talented founders are born anywhere but most don’t live in strong tech communities. In this session we’ll discuss how all startup founders based can access networks, make connections and build relationships that will make their companies succeed

1-1:45 PM How to Leverage Big Brands  

Lesa Mitchell, Managing Director at Techstars Kansas City program, leads a panel featuring some of the world’s biggest brands. They’ll discuss their startup programs and success stories.  You’ll also hear from startup founders on what works and what to avoid with partnering with big brands.

2-2:45 PM What’s Happening in VR, AR and Robotics?  

This panel features startup founders and investors and hosted by Ryan Kuder, former runner of the Techstars Robotics program and the recent Virgin Media Accelerator, will discuss the trends we see emerging in VR, AR and robotics, including the intersection of all three.

3-4:30 PM Pitch Competition: VR, AR and Robotics

FounderCon 2016 Recap

Techstars’ annual founder conference, FounderCon, took place this past October in Cincinnati, Ohio. This year we also had the Americas Summit running at the same time which meant we hosted 1,159 founders, community leaders, investors, corporates and friends from all around the globe!

Additionally, we had 799 people from the local community attend some of these events. We showcased how global we truly are. From conversation to connection to convention…in my view, this is the best global entrepreneurial network in the world and we’re just getting started!

Why do we do this? Because Techstars is committed to building a powerful global network to support founders on their entrepreneurial journey.

The Techstars’ ecosystem includes more than 7,000 founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners, and more than 8,000 community leaders who work together to create a worldwide network of support for founders. Our FounderCon event is one way we connect this network and strengthen our amazing community: Techstars is for life.

Together we learned a lot, made lasting connections, and many of you even drummed up new business and partnerships. We’re excited to share this video with you from the event and can’t wait to see you all, plus more friendly founder faces everywhere we gather including CES, SXSW, Web Summit and future FounderCons!

Want to be a part of it? Apply to Techstars today.


Join Techstars at SXSW: Events for Founders, Mentors and Friends

SXSW is descending upon Austin later this week, and Techstars will be offering some unique experiences for founders, mentors and friends. Here are a few of the events where you can connect with us:


The Ultimate Startup Pivot: Pivot from No Idea!

Techstars founders David Cohen and David Brown co-founded three companies over the last twenty-five years. They’ve seen the highs of being an entrepreneur, but they’ve also seen the lows that entrepreneurs can face. To Cohen and Brown, entrepreneurship means doing things your way. But, it never hurts to have some help. In this session, David Brown and David Cohen will dive into the advantages and disadvantages startups face when they enter an accelerator program.

Saturday, March 14
5-6 p.m.
Hilton Austin Downtown

Jedi Mind Tricks for Entrepreneurs

In this talk, Nicole Glaros, Partner with Techstars Ventures & Chief Product Officer of Techstars, shares the tricks she uses to help entrepreneurs reach their full potential. Everything from creating the right environment to vocabulary to when to push hard, when to yell, when to be gentle, when to be motivational, when to challenge. If you’re an entrepreneur and you want to reach your maximum potential, or you’re an investor or someone who works closely with them, this talk is for you.

Friday, March 13
3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Austin Convention Center, Ballroom A


We’re hosting a mixer for companies thinking about applying and looking for more information about Techstars. Managing Directors, staff and alumni will be on hand to share information about the accelerator and answer questions. Know a company that’s interested in Techstars? Send them our way! Register at the link below:

Meet the Techstars’ Managing Directors Mixer Sunday, March 15 from noon-2 p.m.


Get time on Troy Henikoff’s calendar at:


Here is an opportunity to mix with Techstars’ staff and alumni to discuss how you might be able to work with one of our portfolio companies. If you’re looking for a job, looking for an exciting and rewarding challenge or want to learn more about Techstars, come visit us on Sunday, March 15 from noon-2 p.m. We will be conducting 1-minute interviews and collecting your professional information for dissemination to the entire TS network. Register here.


Use the Techstars space for meetings, networking and a reprieve from the Austin crowds. We’re also hosting a special BBQ to “thank you” for your efforts on behalf of Techstars. Contact John Hill at for more details.


We have a special wristband for you to use the Techstars Austin space and invitations to the mentor BBQ and Techstars Give First Community Event for founders. Contact John Hill at for more details.

Can’t wait to see you in Austin!


FounderCon is our annual event for all Techstars companies with two full days of keynotes, breakout sessions, and tons of opportunity to network with almost 400 Techstars founders and alumni from across our 36 programs to date. We held FounderCon 2014 in the great city of Austin. It’s always fun to hear some of the amazing stories that have come out of FounderCon from founders, speakers, corporate partners and sponsors. If you have any stories about how FounderCon helped you realize the power of the Techstars network, please let us know. Make a game-changing connection? Find a new business opportunity? Hire a new employee?

Below is a short recap video showing off this wonderful event. Want to see the keynote speakers, watch here.

Thank you to all who attended and participated in FounderCon! If you
have thoughts on FounderCon 2015, please share. You can check out the buzz at #FounderCon.