TechStars is not for the faint of heart

When I found out  a month ago that MentorMob had been accepted into the TechStars-powered Kaplan Edtech Accelerator, I knew big changes were in store for me and my team.

As in, zero to sixty in under three seconds kind of changes.

But I knew they’d be for the best. With an acceptance rate of 3% (which is smaller than Harvard’s), a huge portfolio of successful companies, and a mentorship-focused model that’s spawned a host of copy-cats programs, how could they not be?

But that doesn’t mean the changes would be easy. Take moving our entire team from Chicago to NYC with three weeks’ notice, for example. Fortunately, my team is no stranger to cross country road trips.

Don’t worry, we remembered to pack the espresso machine.

Road trippin’ with my favorite allies

During our last frenzied weeks in Chicago, we managed to find a huge three bedroom apartment for six team members on the Lower East Side next to Chinatown. And yes, I am bunking with Kris, my co-founder. And once again he is finding ways to work with my precise lifestyle while I persevere through what you might call his free-form sleep cycle.

The only real drawback is constantly playing Tetris to get the most out of our tiny refrigerator.

Working through a validation board in our palace-sized (by NY standards) living room.

Getting comfy at our new space

The Edtech Acelerator is housed in Kaplan’s West Village headquarters on half a floor that’s been startup-ified for TechsStars. There are clusters of tables & whiteboards for late night hacking and a basketball arcade game to keep our brains for completely frying. And I’m sure we’re putting the hurt on the free coffee in the break room.

If New York is the city that never sleeps, we’re the accelerator that (mostly) never sleeps. In Chicago, an awful lot of startups work the standard 9 to 5, but that doesn’t fly here. Our weekly staff meeting is at 9pm.

Kris and I tend to optimize different portions of the day.

I get by with a little help from my friends

Our fellow TechStars are at all different stages of growth, and that’s by design. Whether a company is brand new and acquiring its first users or already focused on scaling fast, access to leading investors and mentors makes the program helpful for all 10 teams.

It also gives us the chance to help each other. We’re all entrepreneurs dedicated to building lasting companies that make education work for the 21st century—and that’s a passionate group I’m proud to be part of.

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