By @SimonCocking

Interview with Jon Bradford @jd MD at TechStars, co-founder of F6S and From the North. Winter is coming.

How was the 33entrepreneurs event? It seems like a great idea, with good guys, in a lovely location too. What did you think of it while you were there?

33entrepreneurs have clearly spent time to really think about how they run their programme.  For them, this is a long term plan and have decided that they will play to the strengths of their environments – targeting the wine, food and travel sectors. Whist the first demo day was relatively small, they have big ambitions.

How is it going at Techstars?

Incredibly well.  Just over two years ago Techstars did not have any international programmes – in the intervening periods, Techstars have opened Techstars London and Techstars Berlin, as well as the Barclays Accelerator that targets FinTech businesses and also the Techstars Metro programme which targets the food and hospitality sector.

From Dublin it seems like a great program. Are you seeing any particular trends running hot? Or is it important not to select based on trends?

We clearly believe that FinTech is a massively interesting opportunity but equally we see the growth of entrepreneurship in many different geographic locations.  In London along we have seen companies from Ireland, the Netherlands, Israel, Estonia, Spain, Slovenia, Serbia, Germany, Korea, UAE, Kazakhstan and Belgium.

What tips would you give to people / teams trying to get accepted?

First off – don’t be put off by not getting through on the first occasion.  Many of the companies that apply don’t get through on their first application.  Secondly, show don’t tell.  Entrepreneurs are doers not talkers.  The best thing to prove this is to put your head down and build a business.

Plans for 2015 and the future?

More of the same.  There are more entrepreneurs worthy of support than Techstars can – but we have ambitious plans to support more entrepreneurs from around the world.

What’s your background, and how did it lead you into what you are now doing? 

I have been working in and around startups for the last 15 years, latterly as a VC in the North East of England.  I thought that a Techstars model would work well to help support early stage companies – and with the support of David Cohen (the founder of Techstars) he helped me setup my first accelerator.  Ironically, three years later he approached me again to invite me to join as the MD of Techstars London.

F6S, seems like a good initiative. How is it going? Will we see a branch of either F6S or Techstars in Dublin, Wayra has just closed, possible opportunity?

F6S is doing exceptionally well with over 750k profiles of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors and over 100k startups.  F6S is a virtual platform and is based out of London.  We have no plans for Techstars in Dublin for now, but who knows.

You have a great following in twitter, is this part of how you do business (guessing yes) – how has it helped you?

Twitter is a great way to connect with people across and the ecosystem and also for others to connect with me – you being a case in point.

How much time does it take to stay on top of your social media digital footprint? Where else are you active as well as twitter?

I tend to stick to Twitter for now – my inbound email keeps me pretty busy – so concentrating on that is best.  I have a under loved blog – which I should blog to on a more regular basis.

Blogging, who do you follow / like what they do?

The ones I tend to follow and read regularly include – Brad Feld, Fred WilsonMark SusterBenedict Evans

and Hunter Walk.

Top tips to companies trying to do well growing their business?

Don’t give up and listen to your customers.

Being a big user of social media, how do you manage life / work, and online / offline balance?


Have you been to any of the Irish Web Summits? If so, how was it? If not, any value in coming to one in the future?

I have attended the last few Summits – it is difficult to avoid when Europe descends when the world for a week.

If you know of a company that would benefit from participating in Techstars NYC this fall, please feel free to introduce us directly before the close of applications on June 28.

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