TechStars TV: More Hate for OnSwipe, Love for Wiji and Lessons for All

[ Fred Wilson suggests Homefield Founder Reece Pacheco consider a pivot on Bloomberg's "TechStars." Image courtesy of Bloomberg TV. ]

As the first episode of Bloomberg's "TechStars" reality show closed, TechStars New York Managing Director David Tisch questioned whether they had picked the right companies. But you wouldn't know anyone had doubts based on how euphoric the entrepreneurs were at the beginning of last night's second episode. [ Watch the episode here ].

Onswipe kicked off by announcing $1M in funding from Spark Capital and an article in TechCrunch.

"Hide your developers, hide your designers because we are hiring everybody," Onswipe founder Jason Baptiste tells his fellow TechStars companies.

Tisch immediately pulls Baptiste aside for a friendly you-can't-say-things-like-that talk, after which Baptiste "clarifies" to the television audience he was only joking in the voice of viral-video sensation Antoine Dodson ["Hide your kids, hide your wife..." ]. His words feel forced, but sound genuine.

It's easy to jump on the Onswipe hate-wagon because of the startup's immediate success followed by the team blowing off more than 10 mentor meetings, including one with Paul Greenberg, the CEO of College Humor. They're overconfident, weird and a sometimes a little bit too into themselves, though it's hard to blame them for their enthusiasm -- what would you do if you raised $1M and had 400 paying customers?

OnSwipe isn't the only company riding a high after getting into TechStars -- Wiji continues to impress everyone with its smart billboard product, and mentors are confident the team will attract investors. [ side note: just yesterday, Wiji raised $810K in seed-round funding. ]

But the mentors have some choice words for everyone during their speed-dating-style sessions.

"I feel like that's super f*&#$in nerd," Gary Vaynerchuk, near frustration, says to the Homefield team as he munches on a snack.

"Easily top five sh$#%iest names ever," David Cohen jokes of Wiji, a sentiment other mentors agree with.

"I still don't get what you're talking about," Sarah Tavel, of Bessemer Venture Partners blankly says to the To Vie For team after they explain their product.  

For entrepreneurs trying to learn from the series, this episode has a few key lessons -- aside from watching what you say while cameras are rolling.

From mentors Howard Lindzon (CEO and co-founder of StockTwits), Roger Ehrenberg (IA Ventures founder) and Tisch: understand that getting someone to invest in your company is based on genuine relationships. It's okay if you don't like every investor or business person you meet, or they don't like your product. Go into each meeting looking for at least one good take-away, whether that is advice, perspective or the best-case scenario, money.

"Don't go into every meeting thinking that if you don't get x,y or z, that the meeting has been a failure," Ehrenberg says.

The TechStars leadership and other mentors all question the scalability of Homefield's product, which lets athletic teams save and share video footage. Homefield founder Reece Pacheco and his team struggle with whether to pivot because they care deeply about what they've built.

"We love sports, you know. We're athletes ourselves and we built this because it was something that we wanted ourselves as athletes," Pacheco says. "Moving away from that would be a little sad."

But as entrepreneurs watching know, that's not the right reason to keep your product. The episode leaves the question of a Homefield pivot unresolved.

Although there was no leaderboard, this week the teams "competed" to meet their tech idol -- though there was never a clear-cut contest. In the end Tisch proclaimed Wiji the top team for the second week in a row, and the team got to meet its idol, John Underkoffler, the man responsible for shaping the future as depicted in Steven Spielberg's film Minority Report.

Underkoffler seemed legitimately impressed and interested in Wiji's technology and the market Wiji is trying to redefine.  

Next week promises a variety of storylines: teams reaching goals, others losing directions and, of course, more bravado from OnSwipe.


David Tisch
Twitter: @DaveTisch

David Cohen
Twitter: @DavidCohen

Reece Pacheco
Twitter: @ReecePacheco

Jason Baptiste
Twitter: @JasonLBaptiste

Gary Vaynerchuk
Twitter: @garyvee

Howard Lindzon
Twitter: @howardlindzon

Roger Ehrenberg
Twitter: @infoarbitrage

Sarah Tavel
Twitter: @sarahtavel