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Techstars CEO steps down

Techstars Maelle Gavet1 e1716454152889.webp

The Chief Executive Officer of Techstars, Maëlle Gavet has announced her departure from the company, citing health reasons.

Effective at the end of the month, Gavet will step down, with Techstars co-founder and board chairman David Cohen taking over the CEO role immediately, Tech Crunch first reported.

Gavet, who has served as CEO since 2021, conveyed her decision in a LinkedIn post where she expressed immense gratitude for her tenure at the company.

She acknowledged the hard work and dedication of her team, the executive board, employees, investors, and the founders she collaborated with during her time at Techstars. She also spoke a bit about her health issues.

“It’s with extreme sadness that I’m announcing that I will be leaving Techstars at the end of the month for health reasons. As of today, David Cohen, our co-founder and Chairman of the Board is CEO of Techstars once again.

“11 years ago I had to have one of my thyroids surgically removed due to the presence of cancerous nodules and for all these years I have been able to live almost worry-free with daily medication and a checkup every 6 months. Unfortunately the results of the last checkup showed that nodules had started to appear on my other thyroid. “

What to know about Gavet’s tenure

Gavet’s announcement marks the end of a challenging period for Techstars under her leadership. Her tenure has been characterized by significant controversies and operational difficulties.

Internally, Gavet’s leadership style came under scrutiny, with several employees and managing directors accusing her of fostering a high-stress work environment. This climate reportedly led to a notable exodus of staff members, which impacted the company’s morale and operational stability.

Externally, Techstars struggled to strike a balance between its aggressive growth ambitions and the imperative for profitability.

The company’s attempts to scale were hampered by strained relationships with corporate partners, notably JPMorgan Chase. This relationship, vital to Techstars’ operations, deteriorated during Gavet’s leadership, leading to high client churn.

The fallout with JPMorgan was particularly detrimental as it cast doubt over the future of several accelerator programs funded by an $80 million partnership. Programs in key locations such as Miami, Atlanta, and Oakland faced uncertainty due to this strained partnership.

More insight

Additionally, Techstars had to shutter several of its accelerator programs during Gavet’s tenure. Notable closures included programs in Austin, Toronto, Seattle, Sweden, Boulder, and Norway.

These closures signaled a strategic retreat from various geographic markets and were indicative of the broader challenges facing Techstars in sustaining its expansive global footprint.

In a separate statement posted on the Techstars website, David Cohen acknowledged the difficulties of Gavet’s tenure while also recognizing her efforts to address them. “She built a great team, made many tough decisions, and bravely enacted complex changes that were sorely needed,” Cohen stated. He emphasized that Gavet’s departure is primarily motivated by health concerns and expressed the collective goodwill of the company toward her as she focuses on her well-being.

What we know

About 5 months ago, Nairametrics reported that Techstars Accelerator, in collaboration with Lagos-based ARM Labs, announced a significant investment initiative targeting African startups. The program, which marked its second cohort, was to see Techstars invest $1.4 million in 12 innovative startups across the continent. Each startup will receive up to $120,000 in funding, alongside access to over $400,000 in cash equivalents, covering hosting, accounting, legal support, and additional benefits valued at over $5 million.

Some of the startups included in the program are 24Seven, founded by Olufemi Idowu, this asset-light marketplace enables small businesses and convenience stores to order inventory on credit with one-hour doorstep delivery. Beauty Hut: Led by Subuola Oyeleye, the platform bridges the gap between beauty brands and consumers through efficient product distribution and marketing channels via an e-commerce web store and mobile app, and others.

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