Startup PR: 4 Ways to Get Started

Some companies coming out of a startup accelerator program might have a few million in revenue, established brand recognition, and solid brand loyalty from customers. But when it comes to building their brand and customer base, many are just getting started. 

These companies are often faced with one of three PR challenges:

    • Nobody knows about the company — you’re starting from scratch.
    • You’ve given PR a shot but were never able to build a drumbeat that truly raises awareness. (Perhaps you hired an agency and set $20k on fire before realizing it wasn’t going to be the right solution.)
    • You know you need PR because something big is coming up and you want to make a splash (funding, company launch, big partnership announcement, new product release, etc.).

No matter which of these buckets you fall into, there are a few different approaches you can take as you think through how to grow your brand – a critical component to customer acquisition, gaining investor attention, and growing market share.

PR is about third party validation. You can spend all the money in the world on advertising but — you’re selling yourself. It’s when you have someone else selling for you that people start to listen.

If you fall into one of these three buckets and you know that PR is something you need to “do,” there are four main options available to you, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.

1. Hire an agency.
Benefits are that you get a whole team working on our account, ranging from entry level “pitch pushers” to senior-level strategic counsel. PR agencies work with multiple clients at once so they are generally more aware of industry events and trends that they can help you to piggyback on. They have media databases for press research/targeting and established press contacts to tap into. On the downside, they’re expensive. And unless you work with a boutique firm that can get up and running on your business and technology quickly, you’re going to be paying a lot of money for results that may not meet your expectations. Startups fall victim to the lure of a big name agency time and again and are rarely ever satisfied.

2. Hire a freelancer.
Freelancers are typically less expensive than an agency (~$2k–$5k). If they’re local they can come into the office, join company meetings, and are generally accessible. Instead of a whole team you get one individual working on your account, but freelancers typically have multiple clients so you may find yourself fighting for attention. It’s one person, and they have to manage their time accordingly.

3. Hire in-house PR.
With in-house PR you have one person that is fully immersed in your brand. Going this route is generally less expensive than an agency, but more expensive than hiring a freelancer because you have the added cost of bringing on a FTE. With In-house PR, you typically have one person running your whole PR initiative, so they usually wear multiple hats. They can do your PR, run your social media efforts, develop internal comms, customer comms, etc. They can support the organization more widely and can play a key role as you scale your business.

4. Go it alone.
Early stage companies may not have budget to go with options #1-3. Founders are entrepreneurs. They know PR is something they “need” and they’re willing to put some skin in the game to see if they can make some progress on their own. It’s affordable. But PR is extremely time-consuming to do well, and most founders want and need to focus on building their business. They probably don’t have pre-established relationships with the press and it takes a lot of time and effort to build them.

No matter which route you choose, PR is an important initiative to help grow your business. Finding the right solution will depend on your stage of growth, budget, and how much time/effort you’re willing to invest.

See Sonya speak tonight at Changemaker Chats in Boulder! 

Techstars partners with Pledge 1% to support entrepreneurial communities worldwide

Techstars is excited to announce a partnership with Pledge 1%: we have taken the pledge by donating 1% of our equity to Pledge 1%, and we’re encouraging our 500+ portfolio companies to get behind the movement as well.

As part of Techstars’ overall commitment to building a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, Techstars has built a relationship with Pledge 1% to help build stronger companies and communities. Pledge 1% is a corporate philanthropy movement dedicated to making the community a key stakeholder in every business. Pledge 1% encourages and challenges individuals and companies to pledge 1% of equity, product, or employee time for their communities.

Pledge 1% founding partners include the Salesforce Foundation and Atlassian, two companies that know first-hand how pledging a small portion of future success today can have an enormous impact tomorrow. In 2014, they came together with the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado to accelerate a shared vision of every business around the globe integrating philanthropy into its corporate DNA. Nicole Glaros, Partner in Techstars Ventures, is on the board of Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado and has been closely involved in rolling out Pledge 1% nation-wide. Take a look at what she has to say about getting involved.

Why pledge?

Companies and their employees today want to be civically minded and aligned with a social mission that prioritizes having a positive impact on the world.

How does Pledge 1% Work?

Individuals and companies can go to to learn more about how to create a culture of giving through resources, case studies, and best practices. Visitors can also pledge equity, employee time and/or product directly on the website. Pledge 1% facilitates making an equity pledge easy to implement, connects companies with local resources to empower employee engagement programs, and helps companies to further define and respond to community needs.

Who benefits from the pledges?

Pledgees choose the cause, focus area and nonprofits to receive the realized value of their resources based on their community goals and company and employee interests. The Pledge 1% movement is fully funded by its founding partners, so all realized benefit from pledges goes to the causes that pledgees support.

Be part of the movement. Build giving into your culture today. Contact to learn more.

Patriot Boot Camp, Presented by Techstars is coming to New York City from April 17 to 19, 2015.

Patriot Boot Camp, presented by Techstars (PBC) is an intensive 3-day event designed to engage, inspire, and mentor Veterans and the military spouses to start, innovate, and scale the next generation of technology-focused businesses. Over the course of the event, PBC provides participants with entrepreneurial education and mentoring to help them solidify a business idea, focus their fundraising pitch, and demonstrate progress along their entrepreneurial and employment path.

Patriot Boot Camp was started in partnership with Techstars as part of a broader effort to bring underrepresented populations into technology entrepreneurship.

The first Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) was held in July of 2012. Since that event in Washington DC, PBC events have been held 4 times and have helped more than 288 military Veterans and spouses along their startup journeys. In 2015, the PBC team has set an ambitious goal of reaching even more Veterans and military spouses by bringing PBC events to 4 cities, the first in New York City.

PBC is modeled after the three-month Techstars accelerator and is provided to Veterans, active service members, and/or their spouses at no cost. The application period is open now and will close on March 19, 2015.

Please help us spread the word. Click here to tweet:


Techstars Opens Second Program in Berlin with the Techstars METRO Accelerator

Hot off the heels of launching Techstars Berlin, today we’re announcing the Techstars METRO Accelerator, a hospitality-focused accelerator based in Berlin. Berlin has a fast-growing ecosystem for entrepreneurs and we couldn’t be more excited to play a role in helping to establish this historic city as a burgeoning tech hub.

The Techstars METRO Accelerator will run in conjunction with our partners METRO AG and its sales line METRO Cash & Carry, a leading international player in wholesale trade, focusing on the restaurant, hotel, and catering industries. The wholesale company strives to be championing the passion, creativity and flexibility of independent business. Our second partner is the digital agency R/GA with whom Techstars has already run two accelerator programs.

Companies offering innovative technology applications for the restaurant, hotel and catering industries are a perfect fit for this program. Think hospitality start-ups who offer technology-based products and services that help to simplify, accelerate and digitize operations or enhance customer engagement.

The joint partnership between Techstars, METRO and R/GA provides companies with:

  • Techstars’ proven accelerator program (we now have 17 programs worldwide) and our network of over 3,000 mentors, investors, alumni, and corporate partners.
  • METRO’s hospitality expertise, with deep program engagement from procurement, sales, marketing, strategy, finance, legal and communication experts representing business operations that span 26 countries and 21 million customers.
  • R/GA’s worldwide brand strategy and brand creation services.

Applications for the Techstars METRO Accelerator program will open on April 27 but interested companies can sign-up for the latest news and updates at The three-month program kick-offs on October 12, 2015 and will be based out of the same location as our Techstars Berlin program at the German Tech Entrepreurship Center (GTEC) in the heart of Berlin.

Check out our video trailer to see what the program is all about!

Congrats to Techstars founders named to Forbes’ 30 under 30!

Congratulations to the Techstars founders named to Forbes’ 30 under 30! Check out the full Forbes list here.


Jason Bornhorst – Patient IO

TJ Parker – PillPack

Jay Kaplan – Synack

Consumer Tech

Michael Kasparian, Peter Li – Atlas

Yifan Zhang – Pact

Enterprise Tech

Max Lynch – Drifty

Jilliene Helman – Realty Mogul


Dave Bisceglia – The Tap Lab

Jonas Piela – Avuba


Arian Radmand – CoachUp

Marketing & Advertising

Tom Coburn, Jonathon Lacoste – Jebbit

Manufacturing & Industry

Blake Sessions, Arron Acosta – Rise Robotics

Gabe Blanchet, Jamie Byron – Grove Labs

Dylan Reid –

Applications Now Open for Boston and Boulder Summer 2015 Programs

Applications are now open for two great Techstars programs in Boston and Boulder for Summer 2015! Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in our three-month mentorship-driven accelerator program and become part of a lifetime network of over 3,000 founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners.

Techstars is for all types of tech entrepreneurs. Check out our short video to learn more.

Stay tuned to our Program Schedule and apply today. Deadline for Boston, Boulder and Techstars Mobility (already announced) is 3/15/15.

Web Summit Featuring Four Techstars Managing Directors

This week, four of our Managing Directors will be speaking at the Web Summit conference: Semyon Dukach, Managing Director of Techstars Boston; Jon Bradford, Managing Director of Techstars London; Cody Simms, Managing Director of the Disney Accelerator, powered by Techstars; and Greg Rogers, Managing Director of the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars.

Web Summit is a world renowned tech conference where the tech world meets. It is all about celebrating and exploring how technology is changing all kinds of industries. Currently, 500 speakers and counting from Fortune 500 companies to revolutionary startups are signed up to participate in the event. Web Summit will take place on November 4-6th, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland. If you’re going to Web Summit, please stop by and say hi!

Techstars’ David Cohen Explains Everything You Need to Know About Accelerators

Techstars’ Managing Partner David Cohen sat down with Inc.’s Scott Gerber to discuss the hidden benefits of accelerators, how to get accepted to one, and what he sees for the future of tech talent.

Check out all the videos in the series!

Techstars Founder Explains Everything You Need to Know About Accelerators

Come Join Us for the NewCo Session in Boulder!

Have you ever wondered what it’s like inside the Techstars’ Boulder office? On Tuesday November 18th, we’ll be opening our office to the community as part of NewCo, a new kind of event experience: a mash up of an open studio tour and a business conference, with the vibe of a music festival.


In a single day, NewCo Boulder will take participants to Boulder’s most innovative companies for a true behind-the-scenes look at our world and what it means to work here. Although this is the first year that NewCo will be in Boulder, they have had extreme success in the past with events in London, New York, San Francisco, and Detroit. 


Companies involved are those that have helped build Boulder’s diverse business community. Whether you’re interested in technology, nonprofits, or beer, you now have a chance to learn about it all!


While at Techstars, participants will experience an intimate tour of our contemporary work setting, hear from one of our own Managing Partners, David Cohen, and learn what makes Techstars, well…Techstars!

We are thrilled for you to hear our story and observe where we explore and create every day!

Register to participate in this free exposition of Boulder’s innovation!

Techstars is for everyone

Thinking of applying to Techstars? Do it! You have nothing to lose. Being part of Techstars is not just a three month mentorship-driven accelerator program but a massive interconnected network — with over 3,000 founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners – that you’re part of for life.

No matter what stage your company is in, we have a program to suit your needs. We now have 13 horizontal and vertical programs worldwide, including 5 vertical programs that we run in conjunction with corporate partners (R/GA for connected devices, Kaplan for EdTech, Disney for media and entertainment, Barclays for FinTech and Sprint for mobile health.)

Applications are currently open for Techstars in New York, our Cloud program in San Antonio, and for the Sprint Accelerator in Kansas City.  Apply today!

Here’s a video with highlights from some Techstars founders explaining why Techstars is so important to them.