May 8, 2023

From finding founders to raising funds for them: 5 ways Techstars Toronto maximizes their network with folk

Teresa Lee
Content marketing manager

Discover folk - the CRM for people-powered businesses

A leading accelerator supporting the most promising startups in Canada and around the world, Techstars Toronto relies on a robust network of founders, investors, and all-around talented people. Keeping their contacts organized and connecting the right ones is at the core of their work.

“We used to manage our contacts using Google Sheets, and it was a nightmare of duplicates,” admits Shibin, Portfolio Manager at Techstars Toronto. “Before folk, life was hard. Now it’s very easy.”

Techstars are folk lovers. They use folk for not just one use case, not even three, but FIVE:

  1. Sourcing and expanding their network
  2. Event management
  3. Building strong partnerships
  4. Hiring top talent
  5. Community building

Read on to find out how they do each one with folk.

1. Sourcing

“We’re always on the look-out for startups to invest in,” says Shibin. “When we find them, we take them through a 3-month accelerator program. Each month focuses on a distinct area: mentorship, execution, and raising the next round of funds.”

To support this work, Techstars need to be well-connected. They need to scout not only founders, but investors, mentors, and other partners. They do this anywhere and everywhere: LinkedIn, Twitter, referrals via email.

All these people are stored in folk, organized into distinct groups such as “Potential founders”, “Mentor lists”, “VC funds”, etc.

Setting up groups on folk
Groups centralized on folk

The quickest and easiest way Shibin adds new contacts to folk is with the folkX extension, which can detect any profile on the web and import it straight into folk. This is especially handy for entire lists of contacts, which can be transferred to folk with a single click.

Importing contacts with LinkedIn Chrome extension
Importing contacts from LinkedIn

2. Event management

Shibin also keeps region-specific lists of contacts, which makes it easy organize in-person events. Last-minute meetup in Toronto? No problem! He can fill up an event by just shooting an email out to hist list of Toronto-based contacts using Messages in folk. It’s easy: he selects the group to contact, and writes an ultra-personalized email thanks to variables that use data stored on his folk contacts. He can review every message individually if he wants, and then one click will send it out to everyone. The pipeline view then lets him easily track attendees.

3. Building strong partnerships

With a rich network of contacts stored in folk, it’s fertile ground for potential partnerships. Techstars take the opportunity to matchmake between potential partners, investors, mentors, and startups, and anywhere else there’s a possible match. folk’s clear and easy-to-manage contact system lets them do it with ease.

“It’s also super easy in folk to see all the people within a given company or organization,” Shibin adds, thanks to the “company view” option in folk.

Writing personalized emails in bulk
Sending emails in bulk from folk

4. Hiring top talent

Techstars are alway hiring associates to help launch a particular batch of startups. A favorite way to find talent is sourcing on LinkedIn, then using the folkX Chrome extension to add people to their hiring list on folk. It’s a quick and effortless way to keep their talent roster healthy and up-to-date.

Setting up a pipeline on folk
Pipeline management on folk

5. Community building

folk, in the words of Techstars Managing Director Sunil Sharma, “allows for infinite categories and groupings of contacts”. This high level of customization allows Techstars to fine-tune their communications and bring together groups of people with common interests: e.g. fintech founders in Toronto. This in turn let them build specific communities, further strengthening their networks.

The best thing about folk? In Sunil’s words, “folk lets you do your future self a favor. You can proactively group your contacts based on a perceived or potential future use case to draw on later so you don’t need to rack your brains later down the line.”

(Here's handy template in folk for managing community members)

You can find out more about Techstars here.

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