Move over American Idol, and move over Survivor? There’s a new reality show (okay, documentary-reality series) in town, but luckily no one’s getting voted off the island. In this tech TV version, it’s startups and their founders iterating, scrambling through feature sets, and competing for the affections of investors.
It’s a great premise, as the reality surrounding an early-stage startup can be a kinetic one: It may not quite be the car chase in Bullitt, granted, but it’s certainly tense, fast-paced, and, if founders play their cards right, can have significant bearing on the future success of their company (for the better).
But, by and large, the early evolutions of startups — and the role that the big technology incubators have in fostering this growth — happen behind closed doors. Or in low rent, shared office space, with lots of empty pizza boxes. Now, thanks to a partnership between TechStars and Bloomberg TV, all eyes will get a comprehensive peek at what it’s like to be on the founding team of a startup going through the gauntlet at a top technology incubator.
This “reality-documentary” miniseries, called “TechStars”, will premier on September 13th at 9 p.m., with the six episodes running through October 18th. It will air on Bloomberg TV, both on cable and the web.
As to the participants: The series will feature the eleven startups that participated in TechStars’ New York City program, which ran from January of this year through early April and includes OnSwipe, Immersive Labs, Nestio, Veri, ToVieFor, Shelby.tv, RedRover, MigrationBox, CrowdTwist, FriendList, and ThinkNear.
David Tisch, Managing Director of TechStars in NYC and David Cohen, Founder and CEO of TechStars, who are both featured in the show, tell me that viewers can expect a real glimpse into what it’s like to be a TechStars company: “Everything is 100 percent real and representative” of what it’s like to be a part of the incubator.
TechStars had been approached by several networks looking to do reality-type shows on the incubator, but ultimately chose Bloomberg TV, they said, for the reasons cited above. They wanted it to be an objective, fact-based series that captured the actual essence of what it’s like to be a founder going through an incubator, rather than something that’s over-produced and skewed in favor of dramatization. Bloomberg seemed the right fit.
Of course, that being said, both Cohen and Tisch assured me that there will be some drama — startup drama, of course. Yes, there will be a few pivots. But, not to overstate: This will hopefully be an “objective” look at what it’s like taking an idea to execution, developing a workable business model, finding users, and discovering the best way to pitch to investors.
Viewers can also expect to see cameos by many of the TechStars mentors in NYC, including Foursquare Founder Dennis Crowley, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC, Chris Dixon (Founder Collective, Hunch), Alexandra Wilson (Gilt Groupe), Gary Vaynerchuk and “dozens more”. You can check out the TechStars mentor list here.
What’s more, it should also be interesting to watch as Bloomberg TV’s board of judges, along with Cohen and Tisch, and many of the TechStars mentors dissect business models and offer startups and their founders pointed criticism and advice as they move through the program, reality-show style.
All eleven of the startups make an appearance in the series, though some are on camera more than others. TechCrunch has covered a few of these companies, which you can check out here for OnSwipe, Nestio, Immersive Labs, Veri, and ThinkNear. Seven of the eleven TechStars Winter Program startups have also gone on to raise funding, with a few more soon to close, Tisch and Cohen said. So, there could be a good demo day finale in store. As long as it’s better than the last episode of The Sopranos, I’m in.
Applications for the Boston winter program and NYC spring program are open now, and you can apply here.
For the “TechStars” trailer, look out, video below: