Ryan Kuder is the Managing Director of Techstars Anywhere, the remote-first startup accelerator that stems from the prestigious Techstars. The accelerator was founded in 2006, and its roughly 2,000 alumni have raised a collective $10 billion in venture capital.
Listen in as host, Neal Bloom, chats with Ryan Kuder about startup accelerators, entrepreneurial mentorship, and San Diego Startup Month.
4:11 As a third generation San Diegan in a tech-oriented family, Ryan had been surrounded by computers from a young age. His dad worked as a computer programmer for various industries, so having been exposed to his work, Ryan learned how to code and work with AI as early as second grade. Though he hasn’t coded much since, he’s glad he understands how technology works, as it allowed him to better understand and market for larger tech companies like Yahoo and Ebay earlier in his career.
6:32 Ryan launched his first startup in 1998 called givetoschools.com, where his team built virtual shopping malls for K-12 schools. While his startup made a small profit, its competitor raised millions of dollars. From this, Ryan learned a lesson in the intricacies of company growth. After trying his hand at the startup game, he spent the next 12 years working for Yahoo and Ebay, up in the Bay Area. There, he learned how consumer tech companies grow, scale, organize, service themselves, and eventually sell. However, in 2008, Ryan was laid off by Yahoo and this event proved eye-opening for him. He tweeted about his lay off and soon his thread went viral, getting national attention. It wasn’t long before Ryan decided to take control of his life and create his own destiny from then on.
11:20 Ryan discusses his decision to pursue the accelerator route and help companies. He wanted to focus on San Diego startups because the local startup scene is sometimes overshadowed by those of LA and the SF Bay Area. Ryan joined the Techstars team when the accelerator partnered with Qualcomm to launch a robotics accelerator in San Diego. Ryan soon realized that his role at Techstars gave him the perfect opportunity to give back by helping the next generation of founders.
14:31 Ryan shares statistics about the positive impact accelerators have on startups. 86% of companies that have gone through a Techstars accelerator have either been acquired or are still operating today. When it comes to making sure operations can be funded and capital can be accessed, having someone who has undergone the same experience to offer their insight can prove helpful and help founders avoid some pain. “Something that great entrepreneurs do is say ‘where do I want to make my mark in the world and how do I control my destiny for that.’” A good accelerator is beneficial in that it will surround entrepreneurs with mentors who will then help them figure out what they know and don’t know and guide them in the right direction.
16:39 Since March, most companies scrambled to shift almost entirely to a virtual setting. Ryan shares that Techstars Anywhere suffered minimal disruptions, as it has been primarily virtual since its 2017 inception. Because the accelerator is well versed in a remote environment, the Techstars Anywhere team was able to help other Techstars accelerators, as well as ones outside their company, and make the transition to remote by offering guidance in the form of webinars, blog posts, and videos. Ryan believes that remote work will continue to be prevalent in the long term and sees a massive market opportunity for those working on tech to help power the future of work.
23:11 As someone who has been around San Diego for the majority of his life, Ryan has witnessed the San Diego tech community grow and evolve. San Diego is at a point where much of the resources and mentors that are necessary for a healthy startup ecosystem are emerging within the city. And some of the local tech companies that have been successful in fundraising and hiring local talent have been able to attract the attention of investors from outside of the region, a win for the local startup scene.
26:42 Ryan talks through what the San Diego startup ecosystem should focus on building next, as the community continues to grow. One of the factors Ryan mentions is the need for startup employees to learn from their employers and subsequently start their own companies. Experience needs to be shared, as people who have experience with startups are typically those who then create new startups. Capital also plays a big role. Companies need to have the resources to fund themselves internally rather than solely relying on investors from outside the region. With Startup Month approaching, Ryan hopes to introduce mentorship to more companies and get a head start on San Diego's journey in becoming one of the leading tech spots in the country.
30:13 San Diego Startup Month starts October 1, and it will be full to the brim with great speakers, workshops, local incubators, and mentors - there’s something for every attendee and company to find value in. Kick-off night will be a great way to bring everyone together and set the tone for the rest of the month. Get pumped for #SDSM2020, and don't forget to buy your tickets at SanDiegoStartupWeek.com with the discount code “TACOPOD30” for $30 off!
Applications for the Techstars Anywhere 2021 class close on October 11, 2020. Apply here: https://www.techstars.com/accelerators/anywhere
Ryan’s favorite local tacos:
Getting supplies from El Nopalito in Encinitas and making the tacos at home
Connect with Ryan:
Twitter: @Ryan Kuder
Keep up with Techstars:
Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.