The Techstars 2019 staff photo

At the bottom of the Techstars Code of Conduct, right above the—as of today—1802 signatures to it, there’s a line: “The Techstars Code of Conduct is a living document managed by our community.”

We take this idea of our code of conduct as a living document seriously, and we’ve made changes to it a few times since we introduced it in March 2015. We’ve made these changes because, as people and as a company, we’ve grown to better understand the issues at stake and what we believe are the right ways to address them: issues like the profound importance of Diversity & Inclusion, how to engage with a #GiveFirst network that benefits everyone, and when to take “no” for an answer. 

I’m actually quite proud that we’ve made changes over time—this shows that we’re still thinking hard about these problems, and still doing our best to solve them. Something like a code of conduct should never be considered finished, because that would imply that we’d stopped learning. 

Never stop learning. 

Today’s Changes 

While I encourage you to give the whole Techstars Code of Conduct a read, especially if you haven’t done so recently, here are the changes we’re making today. 

In the header section, we’ve tried to clarify exactly what our code of conduct is, as well as why it’s important, and we pulled out a few top-level instructions about response time and sharing opportunities—things that, when we all do them, really make our Give First network benefit everyone over time. 

Some of the numbered changes are similar; practical details about how to live and work #GiveFirst: 

2. We respond quickly in-network. We make every attempt to prioritize and respond to requests from fellow Techstars network members, ideally within two business days.

5. We respect “no” as an answer. If another member says no to a request, we respect their decision.

6. We share talent and business opportunity. Whenever we have finalist candidates that we choose not to hire directly, we share them with others in the network. When we become aware of good business opportunities that we choose not to pursue directly, we share them with others in the network.

A few more are clarifications of previous statements:

12. We do not steal assets or content. We encourage and respect independent, innovating thinking. We do not plagiarize content from anyone.

13. We are responsible with controlled substances. If consuming alcohol, we do so responsibly and in moderation. Alcohol is never provided to minors. We do not drive under the influence of any legal or illegal drug. We do not distribute, use, or operate under the influence of illegal drugs (defined by local or federal law) while participating or engaging in any Techstars program or event.   

18. We are committed to diversity and inclusion. We are committed to building inclusive work environments that reflect and value the diversity of people and cultures found in the world, which we believe leads to better companies. To ensure that our commitment to diversity and inclusion are tangible, we adopt the Kapor Capital Founders’ Commitments, a set of four actions known as “G.I.V.E.” (Goals, Invest, Volunteer and Educate).

Finally, we’re making sure that these rules, however obvious they ought to be, are written out rather than assumed:

14. We abide by all local and federal laws. We do not do business with bad actors. We honor international sanctions. We are careful to do business only with lawful parties.

15. We do not pay or accept bribes or kickbacks. We do not engage in any form of corruption. We act with integrity in our dealings with others and strictly prohibit corrupt activities. 

22. We respect our legal agreements. We follow the spirit and intent of our legal agreements.

Do you have suggestions for additional changes to the Code of Conduct? If so, please contact us. And always, if you have witnessed a violation of our Code of Conduct, please report it here

code of conduct

David Cohen
(@davidcohen) Founder & Co-CEO of Techstars, previously founder of several technology companies. David is an active startup advocate, advisor, board member, and technology advisor who comments on these topics on his blog at