Saalim Chowdhury has been appointed managing director of Techstars London.
The global investment business, which provides access to capital, one-on-one mentorship and customised programming for early-stage entrepreneurs, has turned to the former partner at 500 Startups.
Chowdhury will lead the growth of the startup accelerator in London as it expands to two programmes a year, in April and September. Techstars London will open to startups across new sectors, welcoming more b2b startups in HealthTech, FinTech and web3, and using technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Techstars London is looking for early-stage founders who would benefit from a programme that develops entrepreneurial talent, accelerates startup growth and gets them closer to product-market fit.
Whilst the programme is London-based, Chowdhury says his focus will be on attracting startups around the UK and will be touring the country to do so.
“What drew me to Techstars is the deep commitment to developing founders and communities, especially here in the UK and Europe,” he said. “Global rivals continue to dramatically increase class sizes, with little or no footprint in Europe, but Techstars is staying at 12 companies per batch.
“Instead, we’re increasing the number of programmes in key cities like London and hiring more talent to deliver them, so that we can continue to foster personal connections and development, individual attention and a deeply bonded community.
“I want to work with founders that are creating services for new audiences, or changing the way convention has been dictated for years, mostly by bringing perspectives from one industry to another.
“There must also be a positive impact on society. The goal is to create stronger startups from a more diverse range of backgrounds.”
He follows predecessor Eamonn Carey. Over 200 UK startups have been through a Techstars programme with notable ventures from its London programmes including unicorn Sendbird, a messaging-as-a-service company now backed by Softbank and Tiger Global; Memgraph, a streaming graph platform backed by M12; Banjo Robinson, providers of stories for children, now backed by Sesame Ventures, and Anything World, a machine-learning startup for 3D Creativity, backed by Warner Music.
“Eamonn has left big shoes to fill, and I am eager to continue and expand upon his great work. I’m delighted to lead this growth from London, as Techstars doubles down in the UK,” added Chowdhury.
“As a minority entrepreneur, I know first hand of the challenges of raising capital when you aren’t the default funds look for. I’m excited to share my learnings and playbooks with the next generation.”
At 500 Startups, Chowdhury specialised in advising on growth and led its flagship international investment accelerators, working with over 350 startups across more than 30 programmes in 16 countries.
He is also an active angel investor, backing Axie Infinity, a play-to-earn NFT game with a $3bn valuation backed by Andreeson Horowitz; Nothing.tech, a next-generation hardware startup, supported by Google Ventures; and Quit Genius, a digital addiction clinic, that received investment from Atomico.
Prior to 500 Startups, he was part of two notable exits: internet security firm ScanSafe, sold to Cisco for $183 million, while his own machine learning talent platform Skillbridge was acquired by Toptal.
He has also held senior executive positions at News Corporation and Trinity Mirror Group, focusing on digital transformation.