20 years of startup experience: Meet Dave Drach

Meet the Techstars METRO Accelerators Team: Dave Drach, VP Partnerships, Techstars

Dave’s personal experience with startups

In 1997 Dave joined a small startup called Great Plains Software that grew from slightly more than one hundred employees to well over 2,200 before completing an IPO, and then was acquired by Microsoft in 2001 for $1.1B. Great Plains Software created business software on the Microsoft platform and then acquired the Navision product, which was popular throughout Europe. After completing the integration of Great Plains into Microsoft, Dave then joined the Microsoft Venture Team in 2006 and created one of the first startup offerings with Microsoft BizSpark. Dave managed startup engagement for Microsoft in the Windows, XBOX and Dynamics divisions from 2006 until 2012 with a global focus. Dave began working with Techstars as a mentor and in the first Techstars class of 2007 and has mentored in programs ever since, most recently in the Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit program backed by Ford.

Dave’s job at Techstars

Dave is VP of Partnerships at Techstars, managing the corporate relationships for Techstars programs and helping both corporations and startup companies maximize the value of their engagement. Dave created the first corporate accelerator with Microsoft and Techstars, which completed their first program in 2012. Building off of his corporate and startup experience, Dave joined Techstars full time to create many more Techstars corporate accelerator programs with Nike, Disney, Kaplan, Microsoft, R/GA, Barclays, Ford, Qualcomm and Sprint.
Techstars itself is a startup and grew rapidly adding experienced talent from startups (many from Techstars startups) and corporates alike to build the Techstars execution models. Techstars recently acquired UP Global, which means that Techstars now runs Startup Weekend, Startup Week, Startup Digest and Startup Next in addition to their accelerators worldwide. This also added Google and JP Morgan Chase to the corporations that Techstars partners with and that Dave manages.

Dave’s learnings about startups – and corporates – since joining Techstars

Techstars itself is a startup. When Dave joined, there were approximately 12 employees and now there are 140 worldwide in locations from Austin, Texas to Latvia and Kuala Lumpur. But Dave also works for two other Davids, one, David Cohen, who wrote “Do More Faster” and the other, David Brown, who wrote “No Vision, all Drive”.
Dave has focused on supporting startups for the last 10 years. His successful experience at Great Plains Software, where he led the engagement with Microsoft demonstrated how effective engagement of a small startup with a large corporation could lead to great success. Two key lessons at Techstars have been how important the founding team is and how critical it is to focus. A great team can pivot to quickly to find the right product to market match through rapid iteration. Also, startups are very innovative because they are nimble and can find the right product fit quickly, but have to be nurtured into larger markets (that is where this accelerator comes in) to allow high quality growth.

Dave’s expectations regarding the participating startups in Berlin

Techstars was impressed with the application pool for the Techstars METRO Accelerator. Living in Boulder, Colorado, Dave did not have personal experience with METRO before. Hospitality is one of the largest startup segments in Europe and the high quality of the selected companies in the Techstars METRO Accelerator demonstrate why. It is always hard to predict exactly what kinds of deals and engagement between METRO and the startups will occur. Some examples include Disney’s engagement with Narativ to create a next generation media platform for brands on SnapChat or featuring one of the accelerator companies in the Super Bowl half time commercial like Microsoft did with GestSure.

Dave’s advice to the TMA participants

Techstars by itself is intense. Techstars with a global food conglomerate like METRO that can help you enter 27 new markets is intense with tremendous opportunity. Add to that Techstars program the bespoke branding and advertising capability you have from R/GA, the number one ad agency in the world, well, the word Epic comes to mind. If you are joining this program as one of the selected startups, get ready to fully engage. Set aside 90 days of intensive company building and structure. It’s called an accelerator for a reason and you are in for an exciting ride. Tough, yes, but rewarding, building something fantastic with the support of some of the best talent in the industry.

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