Here I am in San Antonio Texas, hanging out with the 2012 crew of TechStars startup companies. While I’m just in town visiting my beau (who is in TechStars here), I’ll be sitting at a desk in their space every day and I’ll probably go to some of their events and introduce myself. I’ve already had three of the companies ask me for feedback, and I’m feeling pretty at home.
Last year I was a “hack star” in Boston, the term TechStars uses for developers and designers in residence. I worked for many of the startups of that year, and in return I could go to any of the events I was interested in.
If you’re a developer and all you want is a day job at a large company that pays you well, being a hackstar is not for you. There is a small stipend, but it’s definitely less than you would get paid at any regular job. But if you want to join a startup or if you want to start your own startup, there is no better deal out there.
My story started when I quit my job. I had been working for an iOS dev shop, but I really wanted to start my own company…though I wasn’t sure what that was yet. The evening of my last day at work I went to a networking event for DogPatch, which happens to be on the same floor as TechStars, and it happened to be a party for both groups. TechStars had been running for almost a week, and at the party I ran into one of the hackstars. He told me they were still looking for people, and that I should go talk to Katie. I spoke with her at the party, and she said, “can you start tomorrow?” Woah.
Being in the program was pretty awesome. The various TechStar companies would come to my desk to talk about what apps they needed, and I’d get to discuss architecture, UI, APIs, and all sorts of fun stuff. Each week we’d meet with Katie and go over what we were working on. She had a big chart of all the companies on the whiteboard, and she’d suggest how to prioritize the work we had. Then I’d spend my days creating apps or working in their existing code base. That is, when I wasn’t going to an event.
There were tons of events. During the day and evenings, various experts would give talks on a variety of subjects — customer development, board of advisors, hiring engineers, angel investors, nailing your pitch, and many others. And successful entrepreneurs would come in and just tell their startup story. As someone who wanted to found my own startup, all this information was invaluable.
And if you’re looking to join an existing startup, this is the ideal “internship” — you get to try out a dozen different startups, and be almost guaranteed that any one you choose to work with will be funded by the end of the three month program.