We take this stuff seriously…
by Joel Bennett
And I take for granted that compressed timelines bring out the best and the worst in people. Startup accelerators have a way of doing that because there is a lot at stake – and just like the real world, it is a serious matter.
Not only is the New Ventures money at stake. But so is the publicity, prestige, valuable connections and of course potential subsequent rounds of investment – all there for the taking.
Peter’s view is right on target. We try to remind the teams at every turn that they are up against all the odds and failure is a real possibility. Even though I have designed, built, marketed, and sold new products a 100 times – that is not what we are trying to do this summer. We are trying to start a company – not just launch a product.
But because we have a very definite and limited period of time to do this, we designed the New Ventures Accelerator to resemble a miniaturized model of the business world. We cover the basics very quickly. We review business modeling concepts, customer development, canvases and innovation paradigms all leading to the big challenge of defining and building an MVP.
Then I step out of the way and watch.
For a first time entrepreneur – navigating through a jungle of voices, ideas, mentors, and opinions is no easy task. Every experienced startup entrepreneur knows that the definition of an MVP will take many twists and turns.
But if they have the vision, skills and passion they do make amazing progress. Witnessing a newly minted demo is thrilling. Just seeing a simple demo that works is a huge relief to everyone on the team and becomes an inspiration for the whole cohort. Then they start to really move fast.
But there is no dress rehearsal. There might be a number of read throughs, but in the end it is a simple matter of demonstrating traction and establishing your own reputation as a brilliantly motivated startup entrepreneur.
What did you accomplish? Did you achieve your goals? Did you find and hire a CTO? Did you onboard (enter number here) customers? Did they pay you? Do you have a plan for on boarding at scale? What will be the use of funding in the next round?
Proving there is a market opportunity for a new idea is a complex challenge. Doing so successfully requires leadership skills and every milestone achieved is a hard earned win.
So I maintain a somewhat ‘disinterested interest’ on what anyone thinks or says during the first few weeks. Because in just a very short time the only thing that will matter is what someone can PROVE. And that is where we all focus our attention. And the proof is in the DEMO.