TechStar’s Nicole Glaros helps startups succeed

Nicole Glaros showing off her TechStars Cloud belt buckle in San Antonio

The only woman in the TechStars Cloud program, Nicole Glaros relocated from Boulder, Colorado to San Antonio with her husband, two-year-old daughter and one month old baby boy.
“It’s not a hard sell for me,” Glaros said. “To pick up and move for four months is not a big deal for us.”
Her husband Mark loves adventure and discovering new places too, she said.
“From our perspective it was an adventure,” Glaros said.
Adventurous is the perfect adjective to describe the outgoing Glaros, who is accomplished, smart, athletic and pretty and a powerful force in the technology startup world.
“TechStars is such a great environment,” Glaros said. “It doesn’t feel like work. I love what I do. “
Glaros moved into a house near Basse Road and San Pedro in January. She had just given birth to her son, Jackson, in December. Her mother also moved in, relocating for four months from Florida to help out with the kids.
“She put her life on hold,” Glaros said.
Family members are the unsung heroes of TechStars, Glaros said. While the entrepreneurs toil away 12 hour or longer days, seven days a week, spouses, kids, other family members and friends often have to adjust their lives.
Glaros knows their pain. She has worked with more than 100 startup tech entrepreneurs. Before joining TechStars, she founded three startups and worked at a technology business incubator, CTEK and other incubation programs in Colorado.
One day, Dave Cohen, a successful entrepreneur, angel investor and cofounder of TechStars, came to CTEK to pitch his idea for a new kind of technology incubator. CTEK’s leaders didn’t care for the idea much, but Glaros did. She sent an email to Cohen asking if he had time to meet her for a beer. He agreed to meet her for 30 minutes.
When Cohen arrived, he asked Glaros what her startup idea was. She said she didn’t have one. She just liked his TechStars idea and wanted to chat.
“That 30 minutes turned into three hours,” Glaros said.
Glaros ended up joining TechStars in 2007 and now serves as the managing director of the TechStars program in Boulder. She agreed to relocate to San Antonio to help Jason Seats, managing director of the TechStars Cloud with its inaugural program.
TechStars is a highly selective startup accelerator that takes about ten companies per program and provides seed funding from more than 75 different venture capital firms and angel investors. It has five TechStars programs in Boston, Boulder, New York City, Seattle and San Antonio.
The TechStars Cloud was the first accelerator program exclusively focused on cloud-based computing startups. The first class ran from January through April 11th. Each of the companies received $18,000 and access to $100,000 credit line along with thousands of dollars worth of perks including free website hosting, marketing and other services.
“The goal for me to be here was just to give Jason the resources he needed to launch the TechStars Cloud program,” Glaros said. “Working with Jason has been pure joy. He did a wonderful job.”
Seats enjoyed working with Glaros too.
“I will miss working with Nicole immensely,” Seats said. “We had very different styles that gelled quite well together. She is demanding, tough, detailed, insightful and almost always right. I tried to internalize as much of her thought processes as I could to make myself better.”
Glaros said the TechStars Cloud program was the smoothest launch of a new program in TechStars history and she credits Seats, an accomplished entrepreneur who founded Slicehost and sold it to Rackspace, with that.
Glaros was also impressed with the 11 companies to graduate from the TechStars program.
“It was really cool watching them develop,” she said. “I think the highlight is always seeing the progress of the companies. You literally see them evolve from raw potential to a real thing.”
And they appreciated her.
“She’s brilliant,” said Matt Gershoff, founder of Conductrics, in the TechStars Cloud program. “She’s super smart, confident and incredible at being able to distill complexity into a simple narrative.”
Glaros played a key role in helping the companies hone their eight minute pitch to investors.
“She’s not a pushover,” Gershoff said. “She’s definitely respected. She will tell you the truth even if it’s hard to hear. She’s honest.”
Colin Loretz, founder of Cloudsnap in the TechStars Cloud program, also had high praise for Glaros.
“She was awesome to have around,” Loretz said. “She’s seen more pitches and more startups all the way through to Demo Day than anyone.”
“She sees all the problems you can possibly see,” Loretz said.
Glaros has watched entrepreneurs launch a company, exit the company through sale or acquisition and then come back to serve as a mentor in the TechStars program. She calls the mentors – successful technology entrepreneurs who volunteer their time to help the startups – the secret sauce of TechStars.
“It creates a sort of unified cycle of giving back,” Glaros said.
The startup movement gives Glaros hope that these bright entrepreneurs will go on to create jobs and innovative products that will revive the economy.
“The one thing you cannot outsource is brains, talent and creativity,” she said.
The TechStars program has a 92 percent success rate, Glaros said. TechStars latest stats show that 109 companies still operate, nine have failed and eight have been acquired.
The competition is really stiff to get into TechStars. Glaros had just finished selecting the latest companies for TechStars Boulder. She reviewed 1,172 applications for 10 spots.
“The idea is really quality over quantity,” Glaros said.
So how does an entrepreneur make the cut?
“When we’re looking at a company we’re going to take the best team,” Glaros said. “We want a really great team that is super passionate about what they do,” Glaros said. “The idea doesn’t matter much. Ideas aren’t worth anything. It’s the execution of the idea that is important.”
That means the background of the founders count the most even more than the idea they are pitching, she said. And a lot of those founders have a background in engineering, she said.
And few female engineers apply, she said.
Glaros said women also tend to be more risk-averse than men and not as likely to risk everything to startup a company. And they don’t have huge egos and ego plays a big role in being entrepreneur, Glaros said.
“You have to believe you are the only one on the planet that can solve the problem you’re trying to tackle,” she said.
But women make some of the best entrepreneurs, Glaros said.
“Women tend to underestimate how much they can do,” Glaros said. “They outperform their objectives.”
Women also tend to be very open and they ask for help when they encounter a problem, Glaros said.
Now that the first TechStars Cloud program has wrapped up in San Antonio, Glaros has packed up and returned home. But she remembers her time fondly in the city. She enjoyed visiting local restaurants with her family. She thinks San Antonio is a great place to raise kids.
And although TechStars Cloud enters it quiet period, Glaros thinks San Antonio’s startup scene is heating up under the leadership of Seats and Nick Longo at the Geekdom and others.
In Boulder, TechStars has been able to create a technology startup community. How can San Antonio replicate that?
“Community matters,” Glaros said. “When a community comes together and rallies all kinds of entrepreneurial magic happens.”
The community can help by becoming a customer of a startup, volunteering time and expertise and money.
“Embrace them – open up your address book and wallets,” Glaros said “That’s the best thing you can do.”
When successful entrepreneurs mentor and help startups a vibrant startup community can thrive, Glaros said.
“In Boulder, you can get a meeting with just about anyone,” Glaros said. “Accessibility to leadership is huge.”

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