Boulder, Colo.-based Techstars, one of the largest and most popular startup accelerators in the country, is launching its first “virtual startup accelerator.” The experimental program has some significant ties to San Diego, including a local leading the project and a San Diego startup that earned a spot in the first cohort.
The new virtual accelerator program, called Techstars Anywhere, will be led by Ryan Kuder of San Diego, a former executive at EcoATM.
Kuder will serve as managing director, leading Techstars Anywhere with chief innovation officer Nicole Glaros and program director Karina Costa.
“The Anywhere team is a bit of a startup ourselves,” Kuder wrote in a blog announcing the program. “Karina has run virtual mentoring programs previously and we’ve learned a lot about how to make it work. We’ve developed a hypothesis about how to deliver an outstanding accelerator experience online – one that is free from geographic constraints and with flexibility built in.”
Techstars, which was co-founded back in 2006 by popular venture capitalist Brad Feld, has 25 accelerator programs worldwide and plans to make around 275 investments in startups this year.
Techstars Anywhere is meant to address bandwidth and geographical problems Techstars continues to be faced with.
“One of the things we’ve learned over the past 10 years is that our model of requiring companies to pack up and move somewhere works amazingly well, but it also means that there are some really great companies that we just can’t work with,” Kuder said, who has worked in varying positions at Techstars for the past two years.
Techstars Anywhere is launching its beta program with four companies. Kuder said the companies were carefully selected to help the organization learn and refine its model.
The first cohort includes San Diego-based What Tax Form, a software company that helps businesses with onboarding paperwork and other tax-related documents.
The other three companies include Boston-based Qeepsake, New York and Philadelphia-based Clark.ai, and Brooklyn-based Smallhold.