Techstars Boulder Accelerator 2020: Week Four Reflection - A different type of busy
Techstars Boulder Accelerator: Week Four Summary: A different type of busy
If you're reading this and apart of the Techstars program finishing Week Four, congrats, you're finally done with Mentor Madness (kinda)! Weeks 2 and 3 are filled with nonstop meetings with mentors, advisors, and investors. It's one of the best stress tests I can imagine for a business idea. You have access to an endless sea of incredibly useful information and feedback.
And then Week Four happens.
Week Four was a very different type of busy. Although it dies down quite a bit, you'll still have a few "deep dives" that you'll have to work through. Week Four is when you'll select the 3-5 mentors that you'll want to partner with for the remainder of the program. That, in itself, is an incredibly difficult task. That said, trust your gut when it comes to selecting mentors and know that you can continue to engage any Ad Hoc Mentors on a cadence that you choose. Every mentor is incredibly helpful and willing to meet with you in any capacity - A true #givefirst culture.
TIP: We tried to focus on diversity. Getting the right blend of generalists and specialists. People who can add value to development and sales but also those who are just "good at everything." and been in our shoes before. We also made sure we had true diversity. Working in a male-dominated industry, we found it to be incredibly valuable to select people who weren't "exactly like us" - white males.
This is the week where you'll suddenly have time to work. You'll get a few uninterrupted hours to work on your business. It felt so good to get blocks of time to actually work on the business but be careful… your mind might be a bit scattered after receiving all that feedback. If you haven't organized your feedback, do that first. If you feel yourself having a difficult time focusing on the right task or quickly moving from one random thing to another. Organize your thoughts again.
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln.
Fortunately for me, I didn't have too much difficulty with focusing because I spent nearly all of my week speaking with customers. Weeks 2 and 3 are completely swamped, so you likely won't have time to many customer calls (TIP: I scheduled my calls in the morning before 9 am and after 4 pm during Mentor Madness). As a result, they get pushed to Week Four. I scheduled 14 initial discovery calls and had a total of 21 customer-facing calls.
It was nuts.
Admittedly, I wasn't 100% for every single call I had. My brain was still a bit scattered with bits of feedback that I received the weeks before. You'll find yourself saying new things or trying out new strategies based upon what a mentor told you. Plus, everything catches up with you this week; you'll experience real exhaustion. The calls might be a bit jumbled at times, and that's okay. Be sympathetic towards yourself.
This shit is tough.
TIP: I was honest with my prospects and customers about what I just went through. Most people are curious about Techstars and will show sympathy when you're honest about the weeks you just had.
For us in the Boulder program, we are remote in Week Five. Remote does not mean a week off (as if that's even possible nowadays). It means a week to find your center. A week to make sure you get enough sleep, exercise, and do the things that you've let slip over the previous four weeks. For me, this week is looking a bit lighter on customer calls than Week Four which has been conflicting. I'm happy that I get more time to focus on the business, but I also feel a bit behind on prospecting and finding new customers. When you're running back to back meetings all week, this can be something that takes a backseat. Also, the realization that program is 33% done is also setting in. Do your best not to panic and know that you still have plenty of time to get things "figured out."
TIP: Take the weekend after Week Four off. As hard as it was for me, I needed to take a break. I was feeling drained and needed to catch up on sleep and spend time with loved ones who put up with me over the past Four. Techstars is a tough thing to go through. Remember that it's also difficult for those close to you. They're getting a fraction of you during those weeks, and you probably won't feel yourself. They'll be ready for more of your time and attention, so be sure to take time to do that.
Take time off. I promise you'll be better on the back-half as a result.
An anchoring week - Week Five
The theme for me going into Week Five of Techstars - An anchoring week. Being that it's a remote week, I'm focused on making a crazy amount of progress on the business and getting back to some of the things that keep me healthy and happy. This is the week where I will set the tone for the rest of the program. I'll build habits that I'll take with me for the rest of the program.