Business, Entertainment, Smart Home, VR World

The Rocki Road Part 5: Rocki at Techstars

ROCKI TechStars ROCKI TechStars

The Rocki Road is an occasional blog feature written by its CEO N.M. Yap detailing the company’s path through the start-up world.

Rocki is now officially part of Techstars family — day nine actually. It all happened last week which could some day be remembered as a truly significant moment in Rocki’s road, as important (or more important) than the Kickstarter launch.


At Kickstarter, we launched Rocki the “garage-built” company complete with the cliched troop of friends, family, ex-team mates, volunteers, and anyone and everyone who’s able to contribute to the cause. Everyone on the team are experts in their day job and sweating it out by night to build Rocki, something that we all believed in but a lot of others thought otherwise, at least at that time, a year ago. And thanks to all Kickstarter backers, Rocki users, the press, industry partners and Techstars family for supporting and encouraging Rocki, we now have a serious path to become something more impactful than we ever imagined.

At Techstars, we are launching Rocki the disruptive startup that will have the muscle and platform to grab that opportunity to give to the world it’s first universal system unifying all your streaming services and all your favorite home audio, bridging the future of music and its legacy. We want to fill your home with music.

We arrived last Sunday, started Monday and on Thursday the official announcement was made (Forbes referred to us as the 12 Luckiest Startups). A week of Airbnb, got our apartment keys on Friday and then a weekend of IKEA-ing, a home cooked dinner for ourselves and a home cooked dinner for a couple of Techstars-mates, we (at least I) finally feel we’re all set and ready to Rocki and roll!

Speaking of Techstars-mates, wow wow wow. It’s not just the intelligence level, it’s not just the awesome positive attitude towards life and everyone, it’s not just the brilliant stuff that’s being worked on… it’s all of the above and more. I knew before we started that Semyon (the “eindbaas” as we say in Netherlands) and his team Tuan and Rohit went to great lengths to hand pick the 12 companies for this batch of Techstars Boston – Semyon’s debut as captain of the ship. But I could have never imagined this level of …  uhm, wholesomeness (for lack of a better word). There’s also enough variation in characters, strengths and weaknesses of individuals that complement each other, that we can actually become a superclass drawing strength from each other. It’s too early to tell what greatness would come out of this synergy, but the ingredients are certainly there. And it’s not by accident but by careful observation and well thought selection. Respect. I’m suspecting Semyon is a perfectionist.


In alphabetical order,


  • Codeanywhere is a cloud based code-editor, development, and collaboration platform.
    Ivan is from the sunny mediterranean cruise stopover harbor town of Split, Croatia – fun, magnetic personality with a relax-chill smile and sharp-eyed intelligence. A coincidence is that I know Ivan already from the South-Europe startup conference SHIFT Split Croatia which he organizes annually as a “hobby” and invited me to speak at earlier this year.
  • CoolChip Richie and his team design next-generation kinetic coolers for electronics enabling quieter, smaller and cooler product experiences. Quoting Richie, you can remember the coolchip name as in “Hey, that’s cool” and “Can you pass me the chips?”
  • EdTrips makes field trips easy and drives more visitors to educational destinations by consolidating the booking and payment of trips among multiple locations and services. Ed is not the name of the founder – Jakob is.(Ed stands for Educational Trips). Together with a team of about 5, they are letting us “Experience the future”.
  • Fairwaves develops disruptive open-source mobile network equipment and software to bring cell phone service to the next billion people.
    Alex, Andrei and Tiana from Russia with love. If such a thing as logical passion or passionate logic exists, it’s these three. I love what they are doing and some day I know I will semi-retire off into some remote village somewhere in the world bringing with me one of these mobile-network-tower-thingy-in-a-box they have built.
  • Fortified Bicycle is building an urban cycling brand with MIT-engineered hardware.
    Tivan is the one who knows which pubs to hang out in and where to go. Together with Splashscore Chris and everyone on the Indico team, they are our go-to guys for anything we Boston noobs need to do or find, our local human “Google”.
  • Headtalk’s platform enables a new kind of nonverbal communication with wearable devices.
    Alex is a bundle of energy. Each time I talk with Alex, it feels like there is a full spectrum of communication beyond verbal and nonverbal. Hmmm perhaps he indeed has found the ways of telepathy and is secretly alpha testing.
  • Helloblock‘s  API simplifies accepting online payments through Bitcoin.
    Scott and Sidney, mostly quietly doing their stuff, while still engaged and vocal enough with everyone. I hear that they are quite respected in the bitcoin API community, advancing the cause of bitcoin, making it simple beyond the bitcoin diehard fans so that companies like Rocki could easily accept bitcoin — hmmmm, perhaps we should.
  • Indico is building the world’s first IDE for machine learning.
    Slater, Alec, Ezra, Aidan and Madison are running (coding) the show here. You have to love these guys. Super young, super intelligent, super charisma. Also known as our neighbours – the best neighbours we would ever want and have.
  • ROCKI is creating the standard for listening to the music you love on the speakers you already have.
    Hey, that’s us!!! Nick, Dennis and Simon, the eclectic bunch from everywhere in the world – we win “the most number of national flags flying above us” award – that seems to not fit into any box (that’s what we are hearing from our mates), ready to Rocki!
  • Spitfire Athlete is building a brand that stands for strength and badassery among women, starting with a fitness app.
    Erin is badassery spitfire – you can see the fire of determination in her eyes. Fun Fact, she ran several marathons and won a first to 10,000 push-ups competition. Nidhi is a wizard-class full-stack software engineer who also competed in rowing. That’s double badassery right there!
  • Streamroot cuts bandwidth costs for online broadcasters with native peer-to-peer video streaming technology.
    Z French team, aka Pierre Louis, Nikolay and Axel are coding their way to the top. Building pretty cool technology, make sure to check out their product demo on the website.
  • Splashscore’s influencer activation engine helps large consumer brands find and activate their most influential customers on social networks to drive more clicks, likes, leads, and sales.
    Chris and his team use their patent pending algorithm to identify influential consumers who already engage their friends around topics relevant to a brand, and activate them to deliver powerful branded content on Facebook and Twitter.

We also had the chance to meet up with the Techstars Boston alumni – awesome of them to spend their time with us for an everything and anything goes evening with us. Lots of knowhow and words of wisdom passed on to the next generation. We finished the evening with an unscheduled trip across the street to the corner pub (yes, that’s the name of the pub and it is in the corner of the street) for “car bombs”. The next evening’s mix-and-mingle session with mentors, was equally relaxed but had a distinctly different undertone – everyone had a purposeful mission to meet meet meet and meet, almost like speed dating. Mentors came with a mission to meet the startups and the startups darted around to “preview” the mentors for the coming week’s mentor madness.


What is common in all this – the teams, the mentors, the alumni, the hacksociates (more about this in another post), the managing team – is the willingness and eagerness to help each other is seriously stronger than I had ever imagined. #givefirst. For that alone, I’m glad we came.

Techstars 3

The Rocki Team at Techstars. From Left Nick, Simon, Dennis.

I’m writing this on a Wednesday morning – one day of mentor madness done, another four to go. They don’t call it mentor madness for nothing. Spoke to couple of mates, some had a very good day with mentors, some had mixed feelings about it. I loved it. And if I survive the remaining mentor madness days, you’ll hear about it from me. And if the next post here is nothing but gibberish, then you’ll know mentor madness broke me Adios. Ciao. 下次再聊. Tot de volgende keer. Off to mentor madness.