This morning Techstars, a network of startup accelerators and a venture capital fund, announced that Maëlle Gavet is its new CEO. Former CEO and co-founder David Brown will stay on Techstars’ board, while the group’s other co-founder, David Cohen, will become the chairman of its board.
TechCrunch spoke with Gavet this morning about her new job, the timing of the change, the company’s plans for expansion and her goals in the role.
Gavet, who said she was brought aboard to help Techstars grow, detailed her work experience at prior roles in companies of greater scale and multiple geographies, including Compass and Booking.com.
TechCrunch was curious, given how large the startup market is, how much space there is left for Techstars to expand into new geographies and niches. Gavet said that she had asked the same question to Techstars when she was being recruited for her new role. She said there is a wealth of overlooked talent and underinvested geographies that could be empowered and unlocked with capital and help. Techstars wants to go find those founders and invest in them.
That means, we presume, more accelerators in more places investing in more founders.
Gavet told TechCrunch that Techstars has invested in over 2,300 companies and is putting capital into around 500 yearly.
The new CEO explained that she believes it is possible to generate strong returns for her investors while providing lots of support for entrepreneurs and having a positive social impact. That’s an ambitious list of things to execute at once, but if she succeeds her effort could help diversify the world of tech entrepreneurs, something that has long been needed.
Seeing a startup exchange leaders to optimize for different, and larger-scale, operating experience is not rare. For a meta-startup, an accelerator-and-investing concern, to do the same is not surprising.
TechCrunch regularly covers accelerator cohorts, including Techstars (some recent notes here) and Y Combinator, among other programs. Some of tech’s biggest names have come out of such accelerator groups, historically, including Airbnb (now public) from Michael Seibel-led Y Combinator, TalkDesk (worth over $3 billion) from Christine Tsai-led 500 Startups, and Techstars’ own SendGrid (bought by Twilio for $2 billion).
It will be interesting to see where Techstars takes its accelerator model next — the group sometimes partners with companies, or groups like the United States Air Force to sponsor and support tailored programs — in terms of location and focus. But if it can successfully help diversify the founder pool at the same time as making itself money, it will underscore how others in its market could do better.