After being asked a few times “what was it like to film TechStars?” I figured I should write about it- although it might be a few months late.
How did it all begin? I met David Cohen in the summer of 2008 when I was given the opportunity to make a short video for Current TV (Thanks Henry Golden!) on TechStars, a Boulder-based startup accelerator. For those who don’t know, TechStars is a mentorship-driven seed stage investment program. This was just the beginning. I worked many hours on a piece called StartUP focusing on two of ten companies from TechStars ’08, Ignighter & Foodzie. It was a blast.
A few months later I was contacted by David Cohen to see if I would be interested in making a weekly 5-minute video series documenting the drama and adventures young startup companies experience while participating in TechStars. As someone that was able to be a fly on the wall, observing and documenting the startup culture in Boulder, I am happy to say that TechStars is the opportunity of a lifetime. That might be an understatement.
Of course I jumped at the opportunity and began making the web series, “The Founders”, for the TechStars class of 2009 starting in May. The three of ten companies “The Founders” series focused on were Next Big Sound, Everlater, & ReTel Technologies. I went to Boston for one episode & we featured Sensobi, TempMine, & LangoLab. TechStars had quite the extraordinary group of companies, with over 500 applicants in 2009. It was wonderful working with the entire TechStars team, Brad Feld, David Cohen, Shawn Broderick, Andrew Hyde, Nicole Glaros, Diane Hadaya, Tim Falls, & Josh Whitney. Andrew Hyde contributed some great footage & took beautiful photographs. I truly enjoyed meeting and interacting with everyone in the program, from TechStars companies to internationally recognized mentors.
Every week I would work with a theme (i.e. mentors), which changed often depending on what was going on, and I would design my interview questions around that theme. There was a two-week delay from actual events to posting the videos, which created a big challenge. I was chasing all of the footage I had shot, having to edit it & tell a story each week with a strict deadline. I ended up shooting over 1,900 minutes of footage that was filtered down into (14) five-minute episodes. I really wanted to get personal and show what goes on in these founders’ lives while hopefully educating those interested viewers at the same time. While allowing myself to be open-minded and truly document the process, I also had to remain focused with a strong idea of what content would be in each episode. At the end of each week I would e-mail the founders to find out what was on their schedule for the following week. Being flexible with my time & building trust was important for me when documenting TechStars.
I hope the series inspires people to pursue their own ideas. No risk, no reward. Boulder is lucky to have David Cohen & Brad Feld. Some of my favorite memories from the summer include pranking Nate & Natty, watching Todd sing and sing and sing, & flying to San Francisco to watch the companies present their products after a summer of extremely hard work. Oh and of course I loved (in episode 14) when we pranked David back, nice way to end the series. He finally figured out why I was so stubborn about getting a shot of him leaving, bag in hand to the airport. Fortunately everything was ok.
I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life other than making videos & documenting the unordinary. I love it. It’s also important to know that a huge reason I have such an interest and passion to document web startups is because my husband, Brian Sweeney, founded his own startup. It is currently going through a big redesign & looks incredible because Brian has one of my favorite designers working on it, Anthony Dimitre. I’ll blog about it sometime in February.
Lastly, I’d like to thank all of the bands featured in “The Founders”. I’m always looking for new musicians so if you are one or have a friend in a band, feel free to contact me.
Watch entire series. Let’s hope the series continues.