Techstars Boulder Accelerator 2020: Week One Reflection
As I sit here reflecting on my first week at Techstars Boulder, I wanted to share a few thoughts I have about my experience so far.
No doubt... it's been quite a whirlwind and we're just getting started.
With that said, I really didn't know what to expect coming into an accelerator, nonetheless a Techstars accelerator. It honestly felt quite a bit like your first day at a brand new school. Just the stakes are much higher and I actually like being here.
There were really three main concepts that stuck out the first week of the program that have already made our decision to join the program worth it.
This is Techstar's main value. We've heard it at every single step of our interview process and the phrase is literally on the wall above our desk. At face value, one could assume this is a cliche value for a company but I have never witnessed a network that embodies this so much. Everyone in the network oozes this value and wants to help.
- It has initially been obvious within our cohort. I am surrounded by an amazing group of forward-thinking entrepreneurs who are genuinely looking to grow their business and help out their constituents. So much talent in this group that I'm eager to work alongside and excited to see what we accomplish together.
- The network: This is everyone from the program managers, Natty Zola, Allie Schlosser, and Malte Witt, down to each and every advisor who has helped run our workshops. Everyone has been so genuine in their desire to help and incredibly approachable. It's a privilege to have such a supportive and knowledge-filled network at our disposal.
- Back when I started in SaaS I was working for a rapidly growing company with great office culture. My personal mantra was to look for ways to give more any time that I felt I deserved something. It not only helped me perform better and gave my career a boost, it genuinely felt good. I re-realized that I really love helping people. It can be directly related to my work, or a completely unrelated product or service. I find business fascinating and love to work on problems in the startup world. An altruistic lifestyle is a genuinely happy state for me and will be a founding principle for Demoflow.
A Culture of Learning:
This is another principle that has been evident at every step. Not just continuously learning about business, but creating a culture of micro-experiments, product tests, and ensuring time to reflect. It's evident that learning is a massive part of the Techstars culture.
- Always be learning: We have had back to back workshops and discussions throughout the first week. Everything from topics of KPI/OKR to effective communication to meditation. Always captivating topics that hold true across any business.
- Micro-Experiments: They've done an amazing job of outlining ways to understand different points within your customer's journey and specifically things that can impact the conversion at different stages of the funnel. There is a large emphasis put on identifying these conversion points and creating testable hypotheses on what will move the needle. It feels similar to the Scientific method I learned in college and will serve us incredibly well in the future.
- Reflection: Often missed, ensuring you have time to reflect on the experience you just had. It can be a product experiment, workshop, retreat or really any significant event within the business. Given that we're running micro-experiments all the time, reflecting on the good, the bad, and the ugly is critical to progress.
We are all just people running these businesses.
Regardless of who was presenting and what level of success they have achieved, one thing was very evident. We're all human. We're just people running these businesses.
Everyone feels the "imposter syndrome" at times. Everyone gets nervous or uneasy. This is normal.
None of this shit is easy. In fact, it's really, really hard.
Despite being awestruck by the successes of many of the presenters, every single one of them showed an incredible amount of humility, sincerity, and compassion.
Everyone was ready to dive into the tough stuff and be emotionally vulnerable about their experiences in the start-up world.
And you know what?
We all followed suit. All of my cohorts, myself included, we're incredibly open about their goals, fears, and insecurities. Everything. I've never been so open and honest with a group of strangers (formerly).
Now, we're family.
It has been one of the best decisions of my career to join the Techstars network, and I am more confident and optimistic about the future ahead than ever before. The Techstars program will literally help put Demoflow on the map.
Now... Onto "Mentor Madness". I'll report back in a week!