Techstars Startup Digest was designed as a discovery tool for entrepreneurs looking for tech events in their area. It was founded in 2009 by Chris McCann who just moved to the Valley. He created an old-school newsletter, featuring promising events in the Bay Area. There was no website, all the events were hand-picked by Chris himself, and the newsletter had 22 subscribers. People liked the idea and that number quickly grew. In 2012 it was acquired by Startup Weekend. Three years later, Startup Weekend’s parent company UP Global was acquired by Techstars — and that’s how the project got its name.
Startup Digest can be a useful tool for startups and event coordinators. If you can successfully leverage it, your event, blog post and/or tech product can reach thousands of people at no cost.
Startup Digest has two kinds of newsletters:
Digests are the ones with event announcements, curated by active members of tech communities around the world. Some digests encompass entire countries — like Israel and United Arab Emirates. The number of curators per digest depends on the density of the local startup scene. Large cities, such as Shanghai and New York, have multiple curators. Digest subscribers receive weekly updates, but you don’t have to subscribe to look at the featured events. All digest pages include an event calendar.
Reading Lists are industry-specific newsletters that feature the best new articles on a particular topic. They are curated by industry professionals from around the world. The only way to access a reading list is to subscribe to one — they aren’t available on the Startup Digest website. As of today, Startup Digests has more than 30 reading lists on topics ranging from venture capital to music.
Ground rules for digests
Digest curators are sources of great value. They are chosen because of their industry connections and their knowledge of the local startup scenes. Therefore, if you plan on attending an industry event in an unfamiliar area or reaching a local audience, getting in touch with that city’s digest curator might be a good idea. Here’s what you should do:
Send them an email, explaining who you are and what you do. Describe your potential value to the community, why you want to connect or share your project in this particular digest.
Ask them if they can introduce you to someone. Curators have connections — and will have no problem introducing you to people they already know, including local VCs and founders.
Wait for them to get back to you. If you don’t come off as suspicious, this shouldn’t take long.
Digests are curated by volunteers with day jobs and things to do. Spam will only annoy them. If your are not offering them a sales pitch, there’s a good chance it will be featured for free.
Curators has their own standards when it comes to promoting things. Moreover, different digests have different submission rules. Pitch your event or startup to the curator first. Even if your things cannot be submitted ‘as is’, you will be given a chance to amend it. But be sure to wait a couple of weeks for a response. As I already said, being a curator is not a full-time job. These things take time.
Getting it right: reading lists
They have greater audiences, and, as a result, are more carefully moderated. Getting your article featured in a reading list will take more effort.
Subscribe to the ones you’re interested in and take note of content that gets published there.
Publish your article on a high-visibility site. The most popular platform among the articles that make it onto reading lists is Medium.com, with Techcrunch being a close second. Publish your article in a magazine, like Hacker Noon or The Startup, rather than a personal blog. These are moderated platforms, so curators are more likely to feature an article from such a source.
Email the newsletter’s curator and pitch your article. Provide a short description like those included in the newsletter.
Wait 1-2 weeks for a reply. If you get a ‘yes’, your article will be featured in the next edition of the newsletter.
If you get rejected, ask the curator for constructive feedback. It doesn’t hurt to try. Once you figure it out, it might be a good idea to re-write the article, taking all the criticism into account.
Reach out and get help if needed. Find someone who knows how to write tech content and can help you make the best of your article idea.