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TechStars, Lies & Videotape (melanie.io)
234 points by PStamatiou 1322 days ago | 100 comments



Well, that's showbusiness for you.

I have friends in media and showbusiness, so I've seen these things from behind the scenes, and have a good feel for the dynamics. Media is about getting customers just like any other company, and their product is stories. They try to make these stories as appealing as possible, just like any other company tries to make the product their customers want.Truth plays second fiddle to a good story.

Oftentimes we think the media is engaged in a search for truth, justice and a real portrayal of how things work, but unfortunately that's not the how it is. They are there to sell you entertainment, and if the truth isn't sexy enough they'll pimp it up until it is. That's how it works.

On a broader note this is a huge problem for democracy - what we believe to be a guard against lies, bad politics and corruption is in reality just entertainment created by for-profit corporations with no interest in keeping a government honest or multinational corporations on the right side of the law. It's about business. Big business.

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Reality TV is actually a dream business product for entertainment networks. This works on two levels - people are far more inclined to follow stories if they believe the characters are real. Great authors and storytellers have the skill to create 'real' sounding characters. Reality TV works on the assumption that the characters are real - skipping over the part where the writers have to skilfully create the characters. Thus you don't need many writers to come up with reality TV, just general plot points.

The second part is that the actors generally work for free, or close to free. This gets around pesky actors problems, such as unions, conditions and all the other things.

So you have people with a lower internal bar to 'believing' the stories and getting involved, and a cast that generally is working for free under conditions that would get regular actors up in arms.

The result is big profits for a successful reality TV show. The problem is that reality is rarely interesting outside a game show or contrived setup (ie survivor, biggest loser). So you get quasi-reality shows like Operation Repo which is completely acted following scripts but posing as reality, through the 'reality like' shows where real events are distorted to highlight the differences, right down to proper documentaries which try and follow the facts as blandly as possible. And the ratings will, other things being equal, be inversely proportionate to the amount of 'reality' in the show.

Bottom line : people who are to go on reality TV shows would do well to avail themselves of the facts before going in. Whether this means getting an agent or something like that, I don't know. But wishing and hoping for fair treatment is an unwise strategy. (note: I'm addressing reality shows in general, not this specific example).

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I believed they were asking me because they were looking out for me. </quote> from the article

> Oftentimes we think the media is engaged in a search for truth, justice and a real portrayal of how things work </quote>

I'm astonished that there are people who can think that at any age. Kids are either too young even to understand the concepts involved or too old to believe in Santa Claus. It might be culture-dependent.

Maybe I'm too naive in believing that somebody can sincerely write about the presumed right way good media should work.

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It just takes a belief in common human decency and fairness. Not that unreasonable if you ask me. As she describes it, these producers are basically fraudsters, taking real events, warping them to fit their own desired story, and then portraying it as a real account of what happened. Fraud should not be considered the norm.

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> Fraud should not be considered the norm.

I agree from a moral point of view. But Nature doesn't know should or shouldn't it either is or is not. And it doesn't require many observations to see what the business practices in the media are.

It would be unusual to expect faithfulness from a prostitute; she doesn't make the rules.

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It may be a local or even a global maxima for them, but I don't think it's inevitable, and I certainly don't think that it's a net positive for the country. I think they're creating huge negative externalities with their current mode of doing business. Regulation would be very tricky due to the whole freedom of speech, but maybe the Govt. could fund some higher quality competition to get the media focused on a less crappy MO.

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I think this is a credible statement given that fact that participants didn't sign up for a reality TV show -- they signed up for a start-up incubator!

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I wonder how much this quest for storylines has seeped into professional sports. It seems like more and more the NBA and NFL are manufacturing/assisting storylines rather than concerning themselves with the purity of competition.

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It's probably bottom-up driven rather than top-down. The sports players see the trappings of notoriety (endorsements, media profiles, etc) which can mean, in some cases, bigger earnings than actually winning in the sport. Being merely good enough and having a big public persona can bring very good rewards.

It's all part of the current celebrity mania that has engulfed society. All you need is a hook to get into gossip magazines - once there, you can leverage yourself as much as you like, whether that is photo opportunities with orphans or passing out in front of nightclubs. I think the second-tier sports players would find that mightily attractive, because it's certainly harder to keep winning at the sport you're playing.

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I'm referring more to the marquee players whom are in position to control the outcome of a game. Presumably directives would come from the owner and the deals would be made between individual teams and/or the league.

For example, owners might trade wins/losses now to help a storyline in exchange for markers for future wins when they're on a championship track.

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Since betting takes place in the US on major sports, the gov will be very, very involved if a team takes a dive for the good of a story.

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While it is illegal to fix sporting events for gambling purposes, evidently you can fix sports for entertainment purposes.

The NFL's lawyers stated the NFL competes in the "entertainment marketplace" (http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?renderfor...) and operates as a single entity, not as 32 teams.

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If the NFL fixed a game then their would be issues in Las Vegas and DC because of the betting. beyond that, the damage done to their reputation would end the league.

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You can place bets on professional wrestling (http://www.covers.com/articles/articles.aspx?theArt=228164), and I doubt Vegas would mind.

Moreover there have been several politically-beneficial wins in the last 10 years -- the Patriots winning the Super Bowl after 911, the Saints winning it after Katrina, the Jets winning this year's Sunday night opener on the 10th anniversary of 911, in a metaphorical come-from-behind victory -- did you see how that game went down?

In the Jets game, Romo literally had to throw the game away in the 4th to lose it, and then his reputation was restored the next two weeks after two dramatic, media-hyped come-from-behind victories while playing with broken ribs and a punctured lung.

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I've talked to many current and ex-NFL players at the gym and while the league has problems, fixing games is not one of them. When you're dealing at that level of talent small edges can mean big things. The emotional edge that one team has like in your examples can often push them to be just a bit better than other side. This is even more important when talking about a Super Bowl where both teams are evenly matched talent wise. In general the emotional/mental side of football is often way underrated.

Thing is, you show a couple of examples that are easily coincidences while there are many many counter examples. One big recent one is first super bowl in the new Texas stadium where the Cowboys were picked early season to go there and win. I don't even think they made the playoffs that year.

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In Formula 1 the FIA (rule-makers and enforcers) often seem to give penalties to ensure the title fight goes to the last race.

Hamilton in Spa 2008 and Alonso in Monza 2006 are examples which come to mind.

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Nicolas Nassem Taleb, in either Fooled By Randomness or The Black Swan, opened my eyes to this. He was talking about the financial press. He gave an example of something that rose dramatically early in the day, and the news confidently offered an explanation, worries about X. Then it fell dramatically later in the day. The explanation? Worries about the same X.

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While I'm empathetic towards the founders who got the short sticks on this episode, I just watched episode three (having not been aware of the show before reading this post) and it was exactly what I'd expect a show like this to be. If an incubator gave me an ultimatum like "reality documentary or hit the curb" I'd run the other way as quickly as possible.

Melanie might be strong and brilliant, but there's real live footage here of her being unrealistic, ineloquent and covering for a weak business model (in which she appears to have zero unfair advantage) by hiding behind a claim that "developers just don't get fashion".

This show might be trash but her responses to medium-hard questions about her business model don't suggest CEO DNA. I've never met a competent CEO that says "like" constantly and says what they think VCs want to hear.

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This isn't a fair criticism in my opinion. Anybody who has a camera in their face all day can be made to look stupid. That even goes for the most practiced politicians.

Even the best first time start-up CEO's require hundreds of run-throughs to get their story polished. TechStars exists in large part to give entrepreneurs this opportunity to practice.

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It just seems unfortunate that the practice which they are supposed to be doing is filmed, edited and put in front of people in perhaps the worst light possible to tell the story someone else wants to tell.

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I just saw this comment. Very well stated!

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With a commitment to deceptive editing, even award-winning films and famous, eloquent speeches can be made to seem stupid.

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Do people here think TechStars is somewhat to blame in this? they are the ones who are running the incubator and hosting the companies. Why would they bring in this sort of outside factor into an already challenging environment. If they were unaware of how the show would turn out, I suspect all they needed to do was speak to reality tv producers (other than those who produced this show), and they would have been told about the story writers, story developers, etc. etc.

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I'm sure YC has been asked to participate in this kind of thing and they've declined. After watching this show, it's clear that they showed good judgment.

I do think there's room to do a quality documentary on YC or TechStars, but the dramatic reality show format is inherently crap.

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This wouldn't work in the YC environment since people don't actually work at YC's offices. The startups just meet every Tuesday for a group dinner then outside of that will only appear at the YC office if they have office hours booked with one of the partners.

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I think that YC would be better for something about Startups and less about drama and entertainment. I always liked the importance of space that YC has, and that people don't work in an incubator environment. I would think you could make a quality documentary that doesn't have that reality show flare.

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I agree that a documentary would be cool, but I'd be hesitant to say that it would need to be produced under the guise of a network or other professional organization. If anything, I'd love to see a glued together collection of videos from the founders, pg, and the rest of the team (sort of like pg's post not too long ago of pictures of the early days of YC). It doesn't have to be produced to be entertaining and the story wouldn't need to be written (it would simply be the YC companies going through the experience).

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I'd blame TechStars for involving their companies in a reality show, absolutely. At some point, companies are probably able to manage press on their own (and would be smart to decline to participate in a reality show), but part of the purpose of an incubator/accelerator is educational and to keep you out of really stupid situations like this. They failed to do their job, proving something about the zero indexing of startup accelerators.

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No, I actually don't blame TechStars. We were ALL told the same thing - it was constantly referred to as a documentary while filming. Go look at TS post and mine when the show was announced.

Trust me, Bloomberg wanted to do far worse, but TS fought hard to make sure they didn't. We're all fairly upset at how it was cut.

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I've been a big fan of TechStars... until this show. I thought the entire tone of the show was just horrific for their brand. It played off the worse stereotypes and came off as very patronizing toward entrepreneurs. Tisch seems to really reflect the character of Techstars New York and thats unfortunate.

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As I stated below, I largely believe Bloomberg did its job and techstars owes a big fat apology to their cos for putting them in this situation without covering all bases.

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I don't know the exact details, but you'll notice that there are only 6 companies being profiled in the show. Ten companies went through the NY program in that cycle. My understanding is that each team was given the option of participating in the show, along with appropriate caveats. I doubt anyone from TechStars pressured them to participate, although the folks from BloombergTV may have. In theory, TechStars founders are supposed to be smart people: they surely knew the risks to perception and weighted it against the rewards of exposure.

EDIT: Melanie says I'm wrong. Color me surprised.

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Every company was required to participate: the choice was (1) do the show or (2) drop out of TechStars. Bloomberg followed all 11 (not 10) companies throughout the entire program, but focused only on 6 companies because it was impossible to follow 11 different story lines in 6, 22-minute episodes.

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> Every company was required to participate: the choice was (1) do the show or (2) drop out of TechStars.

Required by whom?

Sounds like TechStars signed up for a 'documentary' PR push and prioritized the filming over the founders. If it didn't work out, sorry, but I don't think TS can play the victim card here.

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Whoa, what? Did you know about this before you took investment money from TechStars?

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I was told that Bloomberg filmed all of the teams and then chose whom they wanted to include.

Could someone from TechStars clarify if teams were given a chance to opt out?

EDIT: Just saw below that it was required for all teams to participate or drop out of TechStars. Wow.

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TechStars benefits from the notoriety of the show, at the expense of the founders.

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It's nice that the startup founders are defending Techstars, but as a potential applicant, this whole thing does raise red flags for me.

Doing a startup is hard enough with your personal emotional ups and downs. To add a reality tv show to that just seems like the worst idea ever. Maybe it's good for media startups to get as much press as possible, good or bad. But this blog post seems to suggest otherwise.

If the people running Techstars really got fooled by Bloomberg, then how can I trust these people about giving good startup advice?

The title of this blog post doesn't help. Why isn't it Bloomberg, lies and videotape?

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This actually reflects poorly on TechStars that they gave so much access to a media source without proper negotiaion and/or enforcement.

To the OP I say "what did you expect?". If you are not versed with the media and yet agree on giving them hours and hours of access, you will get some twisted final product more times than not.

Also why PR firms still exist.

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You are right - this is exactly what I DID expect would happen - even though it was sold to us as a documentary on a business channel. Unfortunately, every company in our TechStars class was forced to participate. So, the decision for all of us was: drop out of TechStars or do the show.

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To me, Techstars owes you an apology more than Bloomberg.

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Melanie,

Props to you for showing up at the reunion show despite how you were portrayed.

I guess that last show was part of the contract too right?

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I did not have to show up last night. But I also did not want Bloomberg to be able to guide / direct the last word on ToVieFor. In addition, Tisch and Cohen fought VERY hard to make sure the finale episode was positive, which I knew ahead of time. They felt just as disappointed and betrayed by Bloomberg as I.

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We've been working hard on our application to TS Cloud and this story gave me reason to pause. When the series started I was super excited - I hoped it would be a real look into the program we hope to go through. After the second episode it became obvious it was all about the drama. I watched the rest of the series, but by the end I was pretty confused by the whole thing.

Shame on Bloomberg.

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Please do not let the show color your opinion of TechStars. I would do the program over in a heartbeat, and made lifelong friends and mentors along the way. Tisch / Cohen / Feld and the entire organization is fantastic.

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I'm not. Friends and advisors who have gone through it or are otherwise related to the program have very highly recommended it so we're still full speed ahead on the application.

Incidentally, our company is working in technology around video editing. :-p

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Definitely agree with this. TechStars should have had veto power over the final product. That's a clearly rookie mistake.

I would be shocked if PG allowed a program like this about YC to air.

I don't think you can argue that Bloomberg is in the wrong. They are a media house. They have to create drama to sell the show.

TS should have had better contracts to enforce more editorial control over the end-product.

I have just watched 2 episodes, and David Tisch looks like a real douchebag that seems to be acting like a dick for the camera.

This also feels less like a 'mentoring' program, where people are helping you make your startup success and more like "I (Tisch) know all the answers. Listen to me or you are gonna fail."

Definitely not the type of environment I would want to build my company in. The very point of being an entrepreneur is so that you can control your own destiny, not trade your corporate overlord boss to some entitled investor that thinks he knows everything.

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This just isn't the case.

The show was supposed to portray TS in a good light, and even the Davids are taken back by this reaction.

As one of our investors (in the interest of full disclosure), Tisch is awesome. He's always looking out for the best for his companies, either as personal investments or TS companies. I'm also sure none of the TS companies would say the program was a net negative, rather than a net positive.

As for the mentoring aspect, what Bloomberg didn't show is that the entire 1st month of TS is spent with 40-60 mentor meetings so you find the best mentors for your company. Tisch and Cohen are there to keep you on track from an investor's perspective, but they heavily rely on their mentors to keep you on track.

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I disagreed.

David Tisch, David Cohen, and the other dozens mentors who helped us during the program have been amazing. They stayed in the office with us until late at night. And you can hear our comments about them on TV in different occasions, even in the finale.

Maybe Bloomberg exaggerated a bit the personalities of everyone (e.g., Jason of OnSwipe is great to be around, he jokes a lot) but the TechStars program in itself was great.

And if you do not like people criticizing your idea, you probably shouldn't be an entrepreneur, because that will happen a lot. And that's ok. It's your job to listen and figure out if they are right, or convince them if they are wrong.

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This seems so obvious in hindsight. Despite "The Social Network"-generated interest, startups are simply too boring to make for great ratings without some manufactured drama.

I feel for those who applied to TechStars NY, not knowing about the circus they were getting into. Startups are hard enough without additional, external distractions.

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The original videos were really interesting. The original url is out[1], but google is your friend[2], so you can find them out[3], and even a few ones on youtube[4].

It even got an Emmy[5]!

Edit: Vimeo still got them all: http://vimeo.com/13484895

[1] http://www.techstars.com/thefounders

[2] http://www.google.com/search?q=site:www.techstars.com%20thef...

[3] http://www.techstars.com/the-founders-episode-5-and-6/

[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsKKNYAQpnQ

[5] http://www.techstars.com/the-founders-wins-a-heartland-emmy/

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I would find a show about start-ups without drama interesting. There are reality shows that seem to be fairly drama free like "19 and counting" (so I'm told anyway). I honestly feel like the producers of the show weren't giving the audience enough credit and just made up normal reality show nonsense.

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If they are targeting those interested in startups and not just the lastest trashy reality show they would be much better served doing it documentary style. It's something I would gladly pay a fair amount to watch, following the ups and downs on young startups in a level headed and unbiased way.

I think another good setting for this would be a coworking space, I know techstars is essentially that but at a regular coworking space you get a heap of diversity in what people are doing which adds interest.

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Check out The Founders series mentioned above - it is fantastic.

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Here's a cached version since the Wordpress database has gone south: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:melanie...

Just as true here as elsewhere: if you're not a customer, you're probably the product. Being someone else's content can suck.

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Holy shit. I'm in a tech incubator now (http://www.piepdx.com) and this sounds nightmarish to me. To be frank, I hadn't been following the show all that closely, but I can't even imagine the added stress of having cameras around filming me with my co-founders.

Melanie, I'm really glad you called bullshit. Keep rocking.

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This doesn't surprise me considering how it's clear they were trying to play up the drama angle in some of the other startups on the show. I honestly thought after seeing it that she was starting a Groupon like thing for fashion and found that it didn't work. That LinkedIn thing was particularly weird too. It's good that she wrote this because the show sort of made her look foolish.

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They do paint her as a clueless girl when in fact reading her posts suggest the very opposite.

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As Melanie's co-founder for ToVieFor, it's true that they painted her in a bad light. She's super intelligent and very very good at grabbing onto a vision and propelling it forward. She may have hung on too tight to that vision at times, but I'd take that any day over a co-founder who was aimless and did not know what they wanted. We were up against a very difficult, entrenched industry, and she made as good of progress as I could expect any new entrepreneur to make.

I too am a bit disappointed in Bloomberg. The fact of the matter is that you have a lot of strong, driven entrepreneurs in the same program, and while some of what you saw is accurate, Bloomberg really made an effort to polarize and make extreme the various personality types. Reece does not always talk about sports or use athlete analogies. Jason Baptiste doesn't walk around constantly saying he'll own the internet (although if you prod him for it, he'll probably say it), and Melanie is not clueless. I'm super excited for her current startup, she definitely shows more wisdom in leaner methodologies.

In short, TechStars++, Bloomberg--.

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Thank you Eric.

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disclaimer: techstars founder here...

while the finished product that Bloomberg aired is not the most amazing piece of journalism i've ever seen, i don't think TechStars is to blame for that.

the TechStars ethos is to be open and encourage entrepreneurship. to this end, TechStars asked us if we were ok with putting ourselves out there to the world and we all agreed to it before the program started.

at the end of the day, 10/11 companies got funded, a few are driving great revenues already and all are on track to build great companies... it's hard to argue with that.

and if anyone out there learns from what we went through on the show, or is excited by startups or encouraged to go start/join a startup... then the show is a success.

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So, you believe the ends justify the means, and I couldn't disagree more. TS is respectable, but this show is a bastardization and misrepresentation of startups and more importantly, those behind them. However, this comes at no surprise... 'Reality shows' tend to screw everyone's perception of true 'reality.' Ironic.

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never said 'the ends justify the means'

while i agree that the show is not all-inclusive of the complexity of startups, i think it's funny how much noise is made about the show itself, when the good news is people are excited about startups enough to 1. make a show and 2. to watch it

some of us are going to succeed and some of us are going to fail... some publicly, some not so publicly

TechStars chose, and we agreed, to doing this in the public eye

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Techstars founder?

You mean 'founder of a business that is funded by techstars' I presume?

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yes. sorry

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Hey we were in the TechStars NYC class and in the TV show (Veri). I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this, but TechStars was the best thing to ever happen to us. We came in with a prototype and in three months had a product, traction, funding, and a great network of mentors to help us. We couldn't have done this without them. Regardless of how people feel about the idea of a TV show, I'm very grateful to TechStars for everything they've done and I think any TechStars CEO would say the same.

- Lee Hoffman (CEO, VERI)

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We're a TechStars NYC class this year (Contently), and the program has been an amazing experience. Harvard has good and bad students; YC turns out great companies and duds alike (though not very often, for sure!). I'm sad that Melanie had a bad experience, but TBH it wasn't for lack of support in the program, or for lack of amazing mentors and networking experiences.

Reality TV is a pretty bogus misrepresentation of actual reality, anyway. I'm glad they didn't film our class!

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TechStars is an absolutely amazing program, and we had a fantastic experience. I could not be more complementary of the program itself. My post was only commenting on the TV show, and trying to clear up some events that were portrayed by Bloomberg.

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i wrote this on another thread last night:

disclaimer: TechStar alum from NYC Winter '11 here... while the finished product that Bloomberg aired is not the most amazing piece of journalism i've ever seen, i don't think TechStars is to blame for that. the TechStars ethos is to be open and encourage entrepreneurship. to this end, TechStars asked us if we were ok with putting ourselves out there to the world and we all agreed to it before the program started. at the end of the day, 10/11 companies got funded, a few are driving great revenues already and all are on track to build great companies... it's hard to argue with that. and if anyone out there learns from what we went through on the show, or is excited by startups or encouraged to go start/join a startup... then the show is a success.

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Sounds like a press release from a corporate CEO.

Either way - Dope pivot w/ Veri, Lee

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Thanks Bobby (re: pivot), TechStars has been amazing for us, just thought people should know.

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As a TechStars alum, I can say that this show painted a very distorted view of the real TechStars program. The drama was fabricated by Bloomberg because that's what makes good TV. Don't let this show ruin your view of TechStars. I wouldn't be surprised if they end up regretting doing this show, but of course, hindsight is 20/20. It would have been hard for me to turn down that amount of national exposure too.

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I agree. I think TechStars had nothing but the best of intentions, and they were sold a bill of goods from Bloomberg that the show would be a documentary. I think this is why they were so adamant about each company participating: because they honestly believed the exposure would be good for our companies.

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But still, forcing companies to do something or drop out? That is not how an accelerator should treat its companies, like they were your bosses. The only boss a startup should have is its customers, and now TS, due to its poor judgement has done the opposite of what it was meant to do. Not only do they make poor calls, but they also bulley founders?

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Speaking of Bravo, they're looking for people to be in their new Silicon Valley reality TV show, I submitted a story about it a week ago: http://www.psfk.com/2011/10/bravo-seeking-young-professional...

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Seems to be a lot of assumptions going around. Let me clarify anything you want to know. AMA.

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It seemed as if you were typecast as the villain/arrogant/guy-you-love-to-hate reality show archetype. Did you expect this during filming? Did the producers try to steer you into behaving in a certain way?

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We knew how to handle certain questions. There was a lot of liberty with editing. In real life, I'm an aggressive, confident, and quirky person. I'm also quite nice :).

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Hello everyone, this is Alessio Signorini (@a_signorini), CTO and co-founder of Immersive Labs, which was one of the companies on the show.

At our final interviews to get into the program, they told us that we were accepted before telling us about the show. They actually asked us "would you mind being part of a documentary on your experience filmed by Bloomberg?". We didn't mind. I did not feel it was forced on us. They asked politely, and we agreed enthusiastically. We really wanted to be in TechStars.

TechStars was a great experience for me. I lived/worked for 4 months, 20 hours a day, shoulder-to-shoulder with 40 among the brightest people you can find in the US which now become my closest friend. It did not matter what we were doing or where, we were all helping each other succeed, sharing experiences, contacts, reviewing pitches, etc. And even now, 6 months later, we still speak often and have tons of fun every time we see each other. It's a family.

But that's not all, TechStars allowed us to meet and bond with dozens of the greatest and smartest investors and CEOs of the United States. They helped us, coached us, and pushed us to the our best at all time. And even now that the show is over, they are reaching out, helping out, and creating connections for us. It is great. Simply great.

We really all feel part of a big group which I am sure will last forever.

Having the cameras around during the program was actually fun, at least for me. The crews became friends and it was normal to have them around. They did not change a bit what we were doing and how: they did not tell us what to say, they did not create drama, they did not ask gotcha-questions. Of course, compressing 5000 hours of video in less than 2 hours of show forced them to do some liberal editing. And I am sure that lots of things changed at Bloomberg between January and last Tuesday. They had to focus on 6 companies instead of 11, pick some characters instead of the teams, and reduce hours of meetings into a few seconds.

Melanie is great and is already running with a new idea. The show did not portray her that way. Too bad. Same thing for the meeting with my co-founder, they should have skipped the money troubles of Jason, it did not help anybody. But that's show-business I guess, and since everything during the program went so smooth and it was so positive, they probably had to focus on those two moments to create a bit of drama, which, given the amount of "reality" on TV nowadays, seem to be necessary.

I highly, highly, highly, highly, highly, highly, highly... :) recommend submitting your application to TechStars and do your best to be accepted into the program. It may just be the best thing you do after coming up with the idea for your company.

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I was aware that stuff was probably being edited and I think Melanie and Jason Baptiste got an unfair shake. If I am reading this blog post correctly: the production crew spliced together two unrelated bits of audio ("LinkedIn for fashion") and then played it off like it was actually said? And that it was the new pivot for the company?

That's messed up.

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No, they literally just made it up, and paid a narrator to do a voice-over.

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Yikes - that's even worse...

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the "LinkedIn for fashion" was a retarded move on bloomberg's part. I was there when Melanie was contemplating that pivot. It was more like salesforce for fashion aka a SaaS tool to help the fashion world.

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We were in that class of TechStars (ThinkNear). Not featured in the show -- though in retrospect it makes sense given what they were going for. They had a lot of footage they left on the cutting room floor, and I guess we were just too heads down to be very interesting. My cofounder and I also get along quite well, so we had very little drama to bring to the table.

I recommend the TechStars program to anyone, without any reservation whatsoever. It was really awesome for us. We started basically at zero, along with Lee (Veri), and another team not featured (who's now FourSquareAndSevenYearsAgo). We came out much stronger at the end than we could have been without TechStars with an awesome network, some great mentors, and were able to raise a bit over $1.6. Tisch and Cohen are awesome.

Seriously, don't let the show sour you at all on the program. Some companies will have drama early on, and the show really played it up.

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Site is down Cache : http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Q8QO-LX...

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Not wishing to be rude to any of the participants, but what were you expecting? You have seen television, right? If you're clever enough to run a startup then the editing tricks and other manipulation should be pretty transparant.

I suppose in that situation the publicity is very hard to turn down.

Hopefully lessons have been learned.

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This American Life's "Gossip" episode had a story from someone working on a reality TV show. TL;DR Everything is staged and drama is fabricated if it doesn't exist.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/444/g...

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I don't doubt that you're correct overall that everything on "reality" shows is staged: my neighbor was on a dating reality show on national tv and lots of it was fake. Just for the record, though, as a huge fan of TAL, their site describes that story as based on a work of fiction.

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It's possible to make "process" and "strategy" interesting without twisting facts: "The War Room" is a great example. It's unfortunate that the producers of this series weren't up to the task.

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Bloomberg in general is terrible. From the financial side, they leak information to others, so the rule of thumb is to never talk to them unless you are absolutely desperate to raise monies.

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I agree they messed up here, but Bloomberg in general is amazing. The terminal is invincible, the news network is the best on television (have you seen their interview with pg or their feature on Elon Musk?), their revenues are insanely great. On what evidence are you basing this "leak info" rumor?

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I'm not arguing about bloomberg the terminal. I and many of my other friends in trading have had conversations with really chatty Bloomberg reps who wantonly leak information. In particular one rep mentioned by name that I was a customer when discussing smaller firms using Bloomberg :/

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Did you complain? If you're interested, email me (profile).

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I don't see an email in your profile ...

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Sorry, updated it so it is in about: now.

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I randomly saw that feature on Elon and was blown away by both his story and the piece. I thought it was great.

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This is the worst kind of marketing for tech stars. I wonder how many people who held them high esteem are seriously questioning any motivations of attending.

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When they showed the scene where that one guy admitted to embezzlement I thought "wow, that's intense." Now I know that the participants were told that none of the audio from their private mentor meetings would be used. They thought they were having a private discussion about a team members hardships. Talk about lost trust, sheesh.

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If it is any consolation, I've enjoyed the series.

I can understand how her portrayal would upset Melanie, but I thought she came across as enthusiastic and polished.

Also, ToVieFor is a great name!

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+1

I actually found the shows entertaining. Then again I feel I'm competent enough to understand the difference between the bits that were added for drama and the bits covering the real startup process.

Speaking of which, chracterisations aside, I feel the show did a good job of explaining the highs and lows of the startup process to non-startup people I.e. it's not all about ripping an idea off a couple of brothers, building a site in a night, serendipitously running into a former tech startup superstar who helps you rip off your friends before creating a multi-billion dollar business, all while wearing a hoodie with secret symbols sewn into the lining and wearing flip flops.

Just sayin...

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