Give First

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Over the years, a #GiveFirst network will reward its members time and time again. Troy Henikoff looks back at 2009, when he first encountered Techstars and was so inspired he started his own accelerator—with some help from the Techstars Network. A decade later, that accelerator is now Techstars Chicago, and Troy is Managing Director of MATH Ventures. You never know where #GiveFirst will take you—but you do know you’ll never have to go it alone.

How does a startup ecosystem grow? #GiveFirst is one essential element.

Troy Henikoff, Managing Director of MATH Ventures and Co-founder of Excelerate Labs, which became Techstars Chicago, remembers the early days of Chicago’s startup ecosystem, and how #GiveFirst helped it grow.

One of the difficult things about describing the impact of #GiveFirst is that, over time, there are so many effects. Troy spends time in this episode telling stories about how giving and mentoring have changed his life and the lives of lots of founders, in Chicago, Boulder, and beyond.

It’s a tangled web of awesome, where a decade after Troy’s first interaction with Techstars, there are so many winners it’s hard to keep track. And the wins just keep piling up.

You can find the full transcript here.


Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast.

This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars.  Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast.

What is Give First?

In the startup world, Give First means simply trying to help anyone—especially entrepreneurs—with no expectation of getting anything back. It's the pay-it-forward principle that builds strong startup networks. Hosts David Cohen and Brad Feld—Techstars cofounders, lifelong entrepreneurs, and startup investors—talk with mentors and founders about what giving first looks like in action, and how it makes great entrepreneurship possible.