AWS Startups Blog

Techstars Expands Accelerator Program Into Abu Dhabi With HUB71

Techstars opens up new incubator / accelerator in Abu Dhabi

Founded in 2006, Techstars was among the first to prove the multi-month startup accelerator model worked. Since inception, the Boulder, Colorado-born conglomerate has run more than 1,900 companies through its mentorship-driven accelerator programs.

Of the thousands of hopeful companies that apply each year, less than 1 percent are accepted. Those that make the cut are given $20,000 and a $100,000 convertible note, over $1M in perks, lifelong access to the Techstars network, AWS credits, and most important: three months of dedicated mentorship from the brightest minds in the business. Notable Techstars alumni include fitness subscription service ClassPass, cloud giant DigitalOcean, and even Sphero, the robotics company that built the wildly popular BB-8 toy for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

What started as a pilot in Colorado has blossomed into nearly 50 programs across the globe. The newest city to enter the portfolio is Techstars Abu Dhabi, led by Managing Director, Vijay Tirathrai. Techstars has had a presence in the United Arab Emirates for the past two years, partnering with Mubadala Ventures to found the accelerator HUB71.

After a successful stint in Dubai, a southern expansion into Abu Dhabi was a natural fit. “[Mubadala Ventures] is very much experienced in the investment field, particularly in private equity, large scale investments. Now it’s only natural for them to develop the ecosystem in Abu Dhabi, working with us,” says Tirathrai.

The goal is to partner with companies that want to use Abu Dhabi as a base to scale into the surrounding regional markets. This diverse economy is made up of more than 400 million people, but the fast-growing market lacks a basic, traditional infrastructure. Without that infrastructure, people rely heavily on digital–specifically in the form of mobile devices. Pair that fact with old-money investors (like those in oil, gas, and real estate) who are looking for new opportunities in the digital space, and you’ve got a foundation ripe for startups.

As managing director, Vijay leads the intense vetting and screening process, which can take up to 6 months to complete. He and his team are searching in the far East, Southeast Asia, India and America, and he expects a high volume of applicants from the United States. Companies must live and work in the program city during the 13 weeks, but may choose to return to their home cities after completing the program.

As for what types of talent Techstars HUB71 is searching for, Tirathrai says the program is vertical agnostic. The main focus for he and his team is identifying founders who demonstrate certain intangibles. “Generally speaking, we are looking for founders that have the tenacity and the executional skills,” Vijay says.

The application period opened mid-summer and concludes near the middle of October, 2019. The 13-week accelerator program in Abu Dhabi will span January to April of 2020. Startups seeking more information can visit for a complete list of programs and opportunities.