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Blackline interviews Troy about TechStars-Chicago

Blackline did this interview of Troy the day the TechStars-Chicago deal was announced.  Great way to get some more perspective on the history and why it is an important step for the program.


The original post

Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , , , — February 2, 2013

Excelerate Labs is Taking Steroids

Q. What do First Round Capital, Battery Ventures, SV Angel, Founder Collective, and countless other VC firms have in common?

A. They have all invested in alums of Excelerate Labs in its three short years of existence and none of these firms even has a presence in Chicago.

Excelerate Labs is the best accelerator most people (outside of Chicago) have never heard of.  Ranked #3 in the nation (after TechStars Boulder & YC) by both Kaufman and Forbes, Excelerate Labs has earned a place among the very best startup accelerators in the world, and has done so very quietly.

Today, that changes.

In the last three years, almost 1,000 entrepreneurs have applied to Excelerate, with the only the best 30 making it in to our classes.  Excelerate companies hail from Chicago and the Midwest, yes, but also from California, Massachusetts, Texas, Kentucky,  Florida, France, and India.  Those founding teams have described joining Excelerate as “life changing” and “the best decision I ever made.”

Today, founders across the world have a chance to challenge themselves like never before.

Excelerate is a three-year-old startup going through an incredible growth phase, bringing in better investors, better mentors, better companies, and most importantly, better entrepreneurs as it matures.  Like any other high-growth startup, there comes a time in in the life cycle when it makes sense to pour fuel on the fire.

Today is that day.

And that fuel is TechStars.  Excelerate Labs is now TechStars Chicago.

TechStars Chicago is everything Excelerate Labs was with the added benefits of everything TechStars is.  This is an unprecedented joining of forces, marrying two kindred spirits to better serve entrepreneurs.

TechStars Chicago companies will get all the same program leadership and awesome mentors that previous companies have gotten, plus the leverage of a larger national platform specifically designed to supercharge the growth of early stage companies.  Not only that, but TechStars Chicago will offer companies over $100,000 in funding – much more than Excelerate Labs offered previously.

The team that built Excelerate is now the team building TechStars Chicago.  Co-Founders Sam Yagan, Nick Rosa, and Adam Koopersmith will remain on TechStars Chicago Board and I will continue to run the program as I have for the last two years.

On that note, I should get back to work building our next chapter as TechStars Chicago.  And you should tell everyone you know to apply to TechStars Chicago – Applications open today!

- Troy

Filed under: Excelerate Programming,Status Updates — Tags: , — February 1, 2013

Some more good ink for Excelerate in Elite Daily

“Incubators are to Startups as Steroids are to Baseball. They are not necessary to succeed, but they sure as hell help. In this third installation to Elite Daily’s Incubator Series, we lay out the best startup accelerators for entrepreneurs in the North and Midwest regions of the United States: from Pittsburg to Chicago. ”



Excelerate Labs – ranked 3rd best incubator worldwide – is an intensive summer accelerator for startups driven by proven entrepreneurs and investors. Led by world-class entrepreneurs Sam Yagan (OKCupid, Sparknotes) and Troy Henikoff (SurePayroll), the program is unique in attracting scores of mentors from around the country to work with the teams in direct 1-on-1 meetings. The catch: they only accept ten applicants each session. But if you are accepted, Excelerate Labs may provide the best trade out of any startup: $25,000, resources, connections and press for only a 6% stake in the company.

Read the entire story on Elite Daily…

Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , , — October 27, 2012

New Reasons to Live in the Windy City

We were so excited to see venture capitalist Brad Feld post about the Chicago start up scene in There’s a ton going on here, and it’s great to see it be recognized:

Troy Henikoff, one of the founders of Excelerate Labs and one of the leaders of Chicago’s startup community, sent me an update on what’s going on in Chicago. It’s pretty awesome and is a great example of what happens when entrepreneurs take a long term view to building their startup community. Here are a few of the things going on that Troy mentioned….

Click here for the full post.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — February 20, 2012

Yeah, that’s the Governor, hanging out at Excelerate… No big deal…

Actually, it was a pretty big deal. We were honored to have Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and his team announce the first investments for the state’s new Invest Illinois Venture Fund at Excelerate on January 31st.

A company from Excelerate’s 2011 class, Buzz Referrals, was one of the first two investments. The other was Evanston-based AuraSense Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company.

Troy kicked it off (pictured above), talking about how the startup community in Chicago, and Illinois more broadly, has grown and matured over the past 3 years. Then, Governor Quinn explained that he was excited about the new fund because it would promote jobs in Illinois. Jordan Linville, Buzz Referrals’ CEO, told us about how this investment, plus the rest of his $600K round, will help them grow. We love growth, so we are thrilled to see his team’s progress!

If you have a startup in Illinois, you may want to learn more about the Invest Illinois Venture Fund (IIVF) and the Illinois Angel Investment Tax Credit. IIVF is part of a larger program called Advantage Illinois, which is $78M in federal funding towards new businesses.

Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , , — February 1, 2012