The applications for the third annual Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator powered by Techstars are now officially open! This will be my second year leading up the program and the 12th overall Techstars program I am running. One thing that impressed me about this specific Techstars program is how committed our partners at Comcast NBCUniversal are to the program and more importantly, to our founders.
Since the LIFT Labs accelerator launched in 2018, we have invested in 21 companies with over 70% of them securing pilots or proofs of concept with Comcast NBCUniversal brands including Universal Pictures, Comcast Business, Comcast’s Xfinity platform, Universal Parks and Resorts and the Philadelphia Fusion esports organization. Founders have hailed from multiple countries and more than half were women or people of color.
For 2020, we are continuing where we left off in 2019 and are looking for transformational companies in the connectivity, media, and entertainment industries. We are looking to work with strong visionary founders that understand how working side-by-side with key decision makers from a Fortune 40 company can truly accelerate their company.
More specifically, we are focused on the following themes:
- Advanced Connectivity – Innovations in network connectivity.
- Future of Work – Leveraging technology to streamline processes in the workplace for enterprise automation.
- Interactive and Immersive Experiences – Connecting people everywhere with enhanced entertainment, gaming and digital experiences.
- Personalized Experiences – Creating unique experiences for customers with all abilities.
We are excited to meet you during our recruiting tour. We will be visiting a dozen cities across the US, Canada, and Europe including Boston, Atlanta, Tel Aviv, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York City, London and Paris. Request office hours here to meet the team and learn more about our city tour here.
Today marks the start of the 2019 Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. This will be the second year of the program, and the 11th accelerator I will have run as a Managing Director at Techstars (the most of anyone at the organization). It’s also the one I am most excited about.
This year’s program continues where we left off last year with our focus remaining the same: connectivity, media, and entertainment. We spent the last several months meeting entrepreneurs from around the world. With applications from nearly 50 countries, we ultimately selected companies from cities including Bangalore, Boulder, Kiev, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Toronto. We are especially excited by the diversity of this year’s class, with nearly one-third of our companies led by female CEOs.
Over the next 13 weeks these 11 companies will work with more than 100 mentors to grow and refine their businesses. They will hear from seasoned founders and industry leaders and test their assumptions with business leaders from our partner, Comcast NBCUniversal. They will be trained in how to pitch and work with the press and visit 30 Rockefeller Center, headquarters of NBC, to hear from experts in media. Finally, they’ll experience everything that Philadelphia, their home for the next three months, has to offer, including the new Comcast Technology Center, where LIFT Labs will occupy an entire state-of-the-art floor dedicated to working with the startup community.
None of this would have been possible without the support of all of our mentors and alums who met with countless founders and provided guidance during the selection process. I’d also like to thank the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs team for their continued support and commitment to collaboration. Over the past couple months, I have gotten to know the team and am certain that this is a truly special program. We will be sharing more about each company over the next several weeks leading up to Demo Day on October 10th, but for now please join us in welcoming the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, Powered by Techstars Class of 2019!
Diana AI is a conversational business intelligence and analytics tool that enables non-technical users to access enterprise data and analyze it easily, using natural language via voice or text.
edisn.ai delivers interactive and personalized content to sports fans by applying its AI-powered player recognition engine to live video streams in real time.
GameOn increases live sports engagement by turning complicated stats and odds into simple prediction games for the everyday fan.
Messy.fm is the all-in-one podcasting solution for businesses, brands, and individuals to record, edit, and publish unlimited episodes for free.
NICKL enables individuals and organizations to personalize and manage their digital content subscriptions in one place.
Pivan provides advanced training and analytics for competitive gaming athletes, powered by computer vision and AI.
Respeecher uses AI technology to transform voices, allowing one person to speak in the voice of another.
Sporttrade is a free prediction market where users can buy and sell outcomes of sporting events like stocks.
Struct Club elevates how music-inspired fitness instructors choreograph and deliver classes.
TakeShape enables one-click integrations that allow developers to easily combine data from the JAMstack without having to write new code.
The GIST provides sports content, experiences, and community for women.
I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be joining the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, Powered by Techstars as Managing Director in Philadelphia in 2019! Let me tell you a little bit about how I got here.
In 2013, when I joined Techstars as Director of Techstars NYC, I had to appreciate the irony: several years before, I had applied to the inaugural class of that very program. At the time, I was working on a financial literacy startup with my brother. We submitted our application, but didn’t really expect to hear anything back. I was shocked when I saw an email from David Tisch, then Managing Director for the NYC program, asking thoughtful, tough questions about our company—and I was blown away by how accessible and helpful everyone at Techstars was during the entire application process. That venture didn’t end up working out as hoped, but I was left with a strong affinity to Techstars. When the opportunity presented itself to be one of those immensely helpful people on the other side of the table, I jumped at it.
During my very first program as Director, I worked with some of what became the most iconic Techstars NYC alums, such as Plated and Bluecore, and I got to help them refine their messaging, connect with investors, and hire their first employees. If I’m being completely honest, I initially took the position with the intention of learning how the sausage was made, and then applying those learnings to my own future startup. But as it turned out, working with entrepreneurs from the Techstars NYC programs became the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.
In the past six years, I’ve run 10 mentorship-driven accelerator programs—the most of anyone at the organization (I’m very proud of this). I had the privilege of working with Alex Iskold, serial entrepreneur and former Managing Director for Techstars NYC, for eight of these programs, and I learned more from him than I could ever have imagined. So when I heard that Alex was moving on, I decided it was also time to consider what was next for me. That’s when I heard about the opportunity with the program down in Philadelphia.
I’ve been intrigued by the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, Powered by Techstars and the value it offers both startups and these media giants. The startups get amazing access, industry insights, and mentoring from the corporations. It’s a different model of accelerator, and I wanted to give it a try. Plus, I knew we would be an unstoppable team when we combined my six plus years of experience and knowledge of the Techstars approach with Comcast NBCUniversal’s significant expertise in the connectivity, media, and entertainment space.
I’ve spent the last several weeks getting to know the LIFT Labs team at Comcast NBCUniversal in Philadelphia, and the energy and enthusiasm regarding the accelerator program from everyone, including the team’s senior executives, was intoxicating. I’m thrilled to tell the world that I’m joining the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, Powered by Techstars as Managing Director and continue my path and passion in supporting founders and helping to nurture and grow startups across the globe.
Applications for the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, Powered by Techstars open today, January 7, 2019, and the program will kick off this summer in mid-July. If you’ve got questions, you can message me on Twitter, or request office hours with me to learn more about the program, or if you’re ready, apply now!
I am very excited to announce the launch of a unique program and partnership between my alma mater, Columbia Business School, and Techstars NYC. This new program will take advantage of our organizations’ shared home in New York City to provide students with a unique blend of world-class educational programming and real-world experience.
Managed by the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School and with oversight provided by the center’s Director, Vince Ponzo, the Lang Scholars Program embeds a second year Columbia Business School student in each of the incoming Techstars NYC 2015 Fall Class. A total of fourteen hand-picked, high caliber Columbia Business School students are matched with each of our equally high caliber 14 Techstars NYC Fall Class.
Participating Columbia Business School students benefit from this program by having a front row seat into the hectic and rapid pace of an early stage startup and in the process, determining if such a career path is for them. In addition, these MBAs are able to call upon their MBA caliber education and previous work experience to make a direct, tangible impact at their matched company. Finally, Lang Scholars have an unprecedented opportunity to build their networks by being members of the amazing Techstars programming, environment and ecosystem.
For our fourteen Fall Techstars NYC companies, the benefits of gaining an extra pair of hands and having access to the experience and education of world-class MBA students will no doubt be an added advantage to them as they continue to scale. And for many of these fast growing companies, the possibility of adding a Columbia Business School MBA to the team, one that can hit the ground running on day one, is another huge plus.
For us, this initiative allows Techstars to further its vision of making entrepreneurship more accessible by encouraging students to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career path.
I am so excited to see what this synergy brings over the next three months and look forward to keeping you updated on its progress.