TechStars Harvests N.Y. Start-Ups

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- David Cohen, co-founder of start-up accelerator TechStars, presided over New York City's Webster Hall Thursday, watching his latest batch of young tech firms give eight-minute pitches to a crowd of 750, which included some of the city's most high-profile venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.

"We might see 100% of these start-ups funded, and usually it's more like 80%," said Cohen, nodding to the level of investor interest many of these New York-area companies, which ranged from an apartment-hunting Web site to a so-called social learning firm, have already seen.

The event, held at the infamous Manhattan music venue, was TechStar's first-ever Demo Day for its New York branch. The 11 companies seeking capital are part of TechStar's three-month program, which provides start-ups with $18,000 in seed funding and access to more than 100 mentors, including Union Square Ventures' Fred Wilson, venture capital pioneer Alan Patricof and Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley.

Based out of Boulder, Colo., TechStars also runs programs in Boston and Seattle and takes a 6% stake in each start-up it supports. The incubator is notoriously hard to get into; it accepted just 2% of the 600 applications it received this year. In the past, several TechStars companies have been acquired by companies like AOL (AOL) and Jive Software.

The start-ups presenting Thursday varied widely, not only in their make-up but in also in their growth stages: There were mature companies already flush with revenue and established clients, and there were young businesses still figuring out how to make money.

The pitches all seemed polished and professional, and the founders showed little sign of weariness despite weeks of late nights preparing for the event.

Red Rover, a social learning software company whose platform helps co-workers engage and share ideas, came into TechStars with an established product and paying clients, including consulting and insurance services giant Marsh & McLennan. Red Rover CEO Kevin Prentiss said that the accelerator helped his company grow faster through exposure to experienced entrepreneurs.

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