For those of you who are not regulars in Silicon Valley or Alley, TechStars is a leading “startup accelerator program.” In layman’s terms, TechStars works with tech companies who are in their very initial stages of life over a period of three months to prepare them for venture capital funding. More selective than NYC nursery schools (which as we all know are themselves more discerning than the Ivy League), the TechStars program receives thousands of applications but only accepts about 12 companies per regional class (New York, Boston, Boulder, Seattle and “Cloud” in San Antonio).

I first heard about TechStars from my friend Chris Paik (co-owner of the exceptional venture capital firm, Thrive) as “one of the most significant things happening in the tech space.” Reason enough I thought to meet with David Tisch, the inspiring and dynamic managing director of the NYC program, about coming on as a TechStars mentor. The role of the mentor is exactly what it sounds like. Specialists from different walks of life (finance, tech, or in my case, branding) who advise TechStars companies in relation to our various fields of expertise. As a group, the mentors hopefully provide useful guidance over the course of the three month program to help the companies strengthen the business models prior to their “demo day” (presentation to venture capitalists) in June.

Now in my third week, I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of a world that is vastly different from the circles Base runs in. A few first impressions. One: the tech space is as much a tight-knit community as fashion, contemporary art, or design. I realized at the first event, a Mentor Cocktail where David provided a first introduction to the twelve companies that had been accepted into the 2012 NYC program, that everyone seems to know everyone else. Two: this is one smart group of people. Many are leaders in their respective fields and have gotten there by a young age. Most went to top schools. All seem to get quickly to the point. Sociologically speaking, a tech outing is seems to be as interactive as technology itself. People don’t hesitate to introduce themselves and immediately launch into complex questions. “You’re in branding? What do you think about where celebrity branding is headed?” I left the evening intellectually drained. Third: Last but not least, the founders of the companies in TechStars want to change the world. Of course each would likely welcome financial reward and recognition that comes with creating a paradigm shifting company. But like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and others that preceded them, these passionate architects are driven by the notion that their company may well not only contribute to shaping the next generation of the web but affect how we socialize, shop and interact.

Below is a quick introduction to some of these companies and the key people behind them. Keep you eyes on these folks as it’s quite likely you’ll be hearing about them again in the not too distant future.

Me with Diego Zambrano (left) of Bondsy, the social network of things. I have one thing to say about Bondsy: Remember this company.

Designers take note!!! Kelsey Falter of Markover, a platform to help creatives create better, together. Stay tuned for details.

Abhijit Rao, Ryan Weber, and Sonia Sahney Nagar of Pickie, a company that is looking to revolutionize social commerce. If you'd like to help them to do so, ask yourself these three questions: "Are you design-savvy?" "Do you use Pinterest?" "Do you love your iPad?" If you answered, "Yes!" "Hot damn!" "And how!" then email them at, subject "HERE TO HELP!"

Leon Stankowski, CTO of Rewind.Me who is likely grinning due to the fact that I understood not one iota of his system overview. He and founder Craig Danuloff describe Rewind.Me as "creating present value (personal, social, economic) from one's past actions."

Alex Cabrera, Katrina Brikner and Luke Dupont of DropType, described as a "simple tool for publishing and selling content anywhere." Design firms note! Their product will be a great alternative for those small companies who can't afford us. Again stay tuned.