20VC: Techstars Founder David Cohen on Why Seed Investing Is A Different Asset Class To Venture, What Makes The Best And The Worst Board Members & Why Every Company Has To Have A Pessimist In The Room
Posted on 11th February 2019 by Harry
David Cohen is the Founder and co-CEO of Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. To date, David has backed hundreds of startups including the likes of Uber, SendGrid, Twilio, ClassPass, PillPack and more. In total, these investments have gone on to create more than $80B in value. Prior to Techstars, David was a co-founder of Pinpoint Technologies which was acquired by ZOLL Medical Corporation in 1999. Later, David was the founder and CEO of earFeeder, a music service that was sold to SonicSwap. If that was not enough, David is also theco-author (with Brad Feld) of Do More Faster; Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup.
1.) How David made his way from, his words “geeky hacker” to the founder of one of the world’s largest accelerators, Techstars and investor in multiple unicorns?
2.) What does David mean when he says that when assessing founders he studies “the moment of integrity”? What does he want to see from founders in those moments? What are some potential red flags? If a negative response, what are the subsequent actions an investor must take in this situation?
3.) How does David think about the right time to establish a board? What are the benefits of establishing your board with the seed round? What does David believe is the key to highly efficient boards? How has David changed as a board member over the years? Why does David believe, when building a company, “you always have to have a pessimist in the room”?
4.) When negotiating deals, what does David mean when he says “the terms must match the story”? How does David determine between a bridge and a bridge to nowhere? What can investors do to protect themselves if the targets of the business are not met and they have an uncapped note in place? How should they communicate this?
5.) Techstars today invests in over 500 companies per year, how does David think about reserve allocation across the portfolio? How does David feel about stack ranking portfolio co’s quarterly and concentrating capital accordingly? Why is this not effective? Why should seed and angel investing be an entirely different asset class to VC?