Max Kelly is the Managing Director of Techstars London. Techstars is the world’s leading accelerator program for early stage startups.
Prior to Techstars, Max spent 12 years at Virgin where he was responsible for the strategy of the group and for starting new companies:
Itel.am introduces its exclusive interview with Max Kelly.
What is the mission of Techstars in the process of creating tech ecosystems?
Around 20 000 companies apply to Techstars every year. So far we have run around 4000 events in 150 counties.
Thousands of people go through the experiential learning process. We don’t get profit out of these events; we just want to contribute to creation and development of ecosystems around the world. Our focus is to become a global network that helps enterprises succeed. We believe that entrepreneurs will build a better future.
Each year, we choose over 300 companies to join our three-month mentorship-driven accelerator, investing USD 120 000 and providing hands-on mentorship and access to Techstars global network for life.
To what extent is Techstars interested in Eastern European startups?
I have taken a lot of companies from Eastern Europe, as the quality, the founders and particularly the technical teams are almost always exceptional. But there is a gap on the commercial side. We can help with that, so I am interested to work with this region.
Also startups should decide which Techstars location they will be applying. It should be noted that there are a few incredibly competitive ones, like New York, London. You may want to choose a less competitive location. There are some, which are easier to get in.
How can a country become a regional tech hub?
When the country has large successful companies, certain things happen. First of all, it is the raise of entrepreneurship and success. The second is the fact that the country produces a group of people, who have participated in the company’s growth. So it’s a real benefit, if you get 1-2 large successful companies.
I am sure there are good companies in Armenia. I would definitely encourage Armenian startups to apply to Techstars, and if not to Techstars, then any other acceleration program. I would just recommend finding a good accelerator, and not waste your time on program that will not give you the value you will need.
We would love to see Armenian companies coming to our program, but they need to have incredible teams with a product addressing big markets.
Narine Daneghyan talked to Max Kelly