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At Techstars, we’re often asked what it’s like to go through our program. Founders want to know how our accelerator program is different than others – what makes it better?

This is the second post in our new blog series called “The Techstars Experience” with some thoughts (originally posted on Medium) from Mark Lawrence, Co-Founder and CEO of SpotHero, a mobile on-demand parking app and website that helps drivers find parking and reserve a spot.  Mark and his co-founders, Jeremy Smith and Lawrence Kiss, completed the Techstars Chicago program in 2012.

Here are some highlights from Mark’s post, which as he describes as, “a retrospective on the 7 reasons why joining Techstars was one of the most important decisions of my life.”

[re: time to market]

“Techstars showed us that speed is the greatest asset a startup has. We learned how other successful companies bring products to market in a short amount of time. This reinforced that the sense of urgency and the ability to move fast and change quickly is what can allow a small company to seize an opportunity like no other.”

[re: Mentorship]

“Mentorship might seem like an obvious part of an accelerator, but we were surprised by how many incredibly talented mentors we had access to during the program. From the founders of OpenTable, GrubHub and CDW to the CEOs of publicly traded companies, we spent time learning from some of the most successful people in the world. We met with about 100 mentors 1:1 so we could really get to know them better, pick their brains and learn from their experiences. Whether it was entrepreneurs, marketers, salespeople or lawyers, each one forced us to start thinking about how these different specialities come together to form a profitable business. We developed strong relationships and suddenly we had people, besides our families, who were invested in our success.”

[re: Raising Capital]

“Techstars helped us understand the ins and outs of bootstrapping, raising seed capital from angels, going the institutional route and courting VCs from around the world. We became smarter at raising capital by learning which types of investors seek certain types of deals, how they approached the process and what they need to hear from you. In addition to helping us better understand the investment process, Techstars provided us with the opportunity to pitch to our company to a wide range of investors, including some of the biggest VCs in the country and we gained great exposure.”

[re: Working with Techstars]

“Through participation in Techstars, I’ve grown as an entrepreneur and learned invaluable lessons about growing a business, fundraising and thinking bigger.”

“Three years, three offices, 12 cities, 30+ employees and $7 million in funding later, I am incredibly grateful for all that Techstars has done for SpotHero.”

To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, read Mark’s original post here.

Want to apply to Techstars? You still have time! Applications for Chicago, London, and Seattle close at midnight this Thursday, April 30. Barclays NYC applications close on Tuesday, May 12.

(Are you a founder with a story to tell? Contact us at info@techstars.com and tell us about your Techstars Experience!)


Kerri Beers
Director of Marketing at Techstars