The Techstars Atlanta team is packing startup punch with the appointment of Silicon Valley transplant Tyler Scriven as a new director. Scriven, who previously served as chief of staff and head of operations at Palantir Technologies in Palo Alto, joins Michael Cohn, as the second leadership hire for the global accelerator’s activation in Atlanta. Together, they will set the strategic direction of the program and share responsibility for recruiting and selecting companies, as well as establish partnerships and relationships with mentors from across the Techstars’ global network and local community.
Techstars Atlanta kicks off this summer, offering 10 companies three-months to accelerate their businesses through expertise, funding and office space in impressive new digs at Ponce City Market. The annual program, made possible in Atlanta with thanks to Cox Enterprises, is accepting applications through May 8, 2016. Startups focused on social media platforms, cloud-based data, predictive analytics and cybersecurity are especially encouraged to apply.
Those with the skills to make the cut will learn from an experienced entrepreneur. Scriven, in addition to growing Palantir, co-founded ThinAir Labs, a Y Combinator-backed data security company. He is an active angel investor and advises several startups, including Grab, AlphaFlow, MyLumper and Storj. He began his career with J.P. Morgan, where he worked in private equity and investment banking.
Scriven speaks with Hypepotamus about what’s on deck for his directorship.
Why are you excited to take on this role with Techstars?
I moved to Atlanta from Silicon Valley late last year, and quickly immersed myself in the local startup community. Since the day I arrived I’ve been overwhelmed with the energy, talent, and enthusiasm of this city’s entrepreneurs, and I can’t think of any better way to continue to foster its growth that to join Michael in leading Techstars Atlanta.
Like Michael, I view Techstars as having the opportunity to be a critical center of gravity in the city that supports entrepreneurs, fosters mentorship and giving, and connects our community with the greater Techstars startup ecosystem.
I’m also thrilled to have the opportunity work closely with Cox, whose reputation and legacy as innovators precedes them. I couldn’t think of a better partner.
How do you hope to leverage your entrepreneurial experience through guidance of the first cohort?
In my five years at Palantir, I was extraordinarily fortunate to have been a part of one of the most intense and outcome-oriented cultures in Silicon Valley. My lessons from my time at Palantir are countless, and in many ways are continuously refined as I interact with early stage entrepreneurs. I’m excited to share what I’ve learned, but the truth is that I believe one of the most valuable things that I can do for the founders in our program is to be a thoughtful and patient listener, with the goal of helping them connect with the right resources at the right time.
How did your relationship with Michael develop and lead to a partnership for Techstars Atlanta?
Our partnership is an interesting story. We both found ourselves in similar positions — Michael exited from Cloud Sherpas and took a little time off to travel, and I decided to move to Atlanta after six years in Silicon Valley. When we both resurfaced, we met as investors in the same company, hit it off, and started discussions about how to work together in some capacity.
During this time, Techstars approached both of us, and we were able to parlay that mutual interest into a partnership to run Techstars Atlanta together. We both find this quite exciting, in large part, because of the complementary nature of our backgrounds. Michael built a company from start to exit, and I experienced Palantir through different phases, growing from 100 to 2,000 employees, and understand the culture of Silicon Valley. Combined, we are able to bring depth to the program that is stronger with us working together than built by one alone.
You’re a recent transplant to Atlanta, why move from the Silicon Valley to the Southeast?
My wife and I always knew that we would one day move back to the South. I am originally from Jacksonville, but over time, my family has migrated to Atlanta. I also consider Atlanta to be one of the most vibrant and promising startup ecosystems in the country, so when the time was right we jumped at the opportunity to make the move and begin what I’m sure will be an incredibly rewarding journey.
What are you hoping to achieve through this directorship?
Simply put, I hope to introduce 10 amazing and successful companies to Atlanta. We intend to see these companies accelerate their growth during the program, but more importantly, we hope they decide to establish roots in Atlanta.