Featured on Jan 07, 2011
"It can take years to find your passion, but it takes seconds to realize you found it."
Managing Director of TechStars NYC. Also an angel investor through BoxGroup NYC. I don't sleep, sports freak, love Survivor and hooded sweatshirts... I was briefly a lawyer. I am proud to be a native NYer.
- Title: Managing Director, TechStars NYC
- Age: 29
- Location: Greenwich Village
- Contact: @davetisch, davidtisch.com
Everybody always say they invest in the people and not the idea. What qualities are you looking for in a person/team when they apply to TechStars? Are the qualities any different for when you are looking to seed invest in a company?
I think it starts with the premise that execution is everything. Some TechStars applicants just have ideas, others are early prototypes. When trying to evaluate a company at such an early stage, you start with, "Can they build it? Can they build something?" Look at the founders’ past. I want to know what they have built before, individually and as a team. I want to know how the founders know each other, whether they’ve worked together before, and whether there is a history of building, why they are passionate about their company, what motivates them. All these questions help you assess the ultimate issues of whether this team will stick together and whether they have the ability to execute and build a business on a short timeframe in a stressful environment. There is no easy way to evaluate this, especially at the scale of the TechStars applications. Sometime you only know the answer when it arrives on your doorstep. But you do what you can to analyze concepts and teams when they’re in their earliest stages based on whatever data points are available at the time.
You wrote back in August about some things that you like and dislike. First, how many Kid Robot toys do you own? And second, what did Alex Trebek do to you to make you dislike him (you can be honest, we won't tell)?
I basically traded my baseball card collection in for Kid Robots. I had a lot of baseball cards. Buying and selling cards was my first business, really. Now my wall is filled with weird random cool toys. It always amuses me. The issue with Trebek is that he’s mean. Perhaps evil. His contestant interviews stunningly awkward... He acts like he knows the answer to every question, scoffs at the contestant for getting one wrong. I'm not buying it. I'd love to see him compete without the card in his hand... And what the hell is he talking about with the contestants in those awkward thirty seconds when the show ends?
We like that you picked Tumblr to be your blogging platform because you wanted to support a NY company. How come you didn’t pick NY-based Xanga?
The community was the main factor. I had more friends on Tumblr. I do need to blog more, thanks for pointing that out. Tumblr has a great product. It's an elegant experience.
You are helping to launch and will be managing the New York City TechStars program, which is an amazing program for New York's tech community. What were the criteria/methods that you used for choosing the participating mentors?
We mainly draw the mentor group from the pre-existing close network of TechStars’ principals. We look for mentors with real operational experience and a strong mix of disciplines and experiences. In NYC, we have a great list of mentors, coming at us with such diverse backgrounds. Our only requirement, really, is that mentors want to be involved, and want to work with the companies.