Techstars Boulder Accelerator 2020: Week Three Reflection - Deep Dives
A true stress test - A year of progress crammed into two weeks
Mentor Madness week two: This is where Mentor Madness gets interesting, and the value of Techstars becomes obvious.
Week one is filled with a lot of high-level pitching and repetitive business discussion mostly run by the founders. It's a fun challenge to try and articulate your business and go to market strategy in about 8 minutes. Then try and engage in a meaningful conversation where you can pull out 2-3 pieces of advice (whether you agree or disagree is irrelevant). It's a great way to test out different pitches and have non-CEOs work to pitch the business (Jack and I did a 50/50 split for some days)
The repetitive nature can be exhausting but hold your hats; it's only the beginning.
Week Two is for hour-long "deep dive" with the mentors that you selected and also selected you. It will range from 10-15 meetings during the week. This week is a different type of exhausting. The ideas start to flow after about 30-40 minutes, and you begin to feel in sync with that person. This type of creative, collaborative brainstorming is so valuable to the business, but it also made my brain hurt a bit at the end of the day. So many amazing ideas!
TIP: TAKE NOTES! Alleviate your stress and stay focused in the moment. It's easy to get wrapped up in the conversation and the flow of ideas, but I promise this will help to keep you sane after the week is done. Thankfully Jack was more diligent on this front that I was.
You don't HAVE to do anything the mentors tell you to do. Mentors reiterate this themselves. You know more about your business than anyone else. Every suggestion or piece of feedback is just one data point. We did our best to hear and document every piece of feedback without judgment. Whether we immediately agreed or disagreed wasn't important. All feedback should be given time to digest. Sometimes feedback is communicated poorly, or maybe you just misunderstood what was said. Gut reactions can sometimes be emotional, especially when people are talking about "your baby," so be conscious of these types of responses. Give it time to marinate!
The hardest part?
Not taking action. I have a very strong bias towards action, so hearing all of this great advice and not being able to act immediately became difficult towards the end of the week. In reality, this was a good thing. You don't want to become a founder who always "chases the shiny object," so hearing all the feedback, taking notes, digesting, and then planning the right course of action is the best way to do this.
Plus, you won't have time to act during these weeks.
Digest, Plan, and Act.
Jack and I have made it a habit of conducting in-person "working days' to review everything that's going on in the business. These working days predate Demoflow and many of the other projects we've worked on in the past. We had one of these yesterday to review all of the feedback we received during mentor madness and to ensure we're in alignment moving forward. We looked at over 250 pieces of feedback and organized it into a cohesive plan. Fortunately for us, I'd say 98% of people understood the Demoflow concept, and the vast majority of feedback we received fits perfectly into our product roadmap and business model.
I must say, it was a great feeling to get confirmation from a lot of brilliant people that we're headed in the right direction.
The best part?
Thanks to all of the mentors, advisors, and investors that we've met with, we were able to further hone in our ideal customer profile and true Go To Market strategy. Jack and I both agreed that we essentially made a full year of progress in just three weeks - AND avoided all of the pain and wasted time associated with making the wrong decisions.
One thing is evident after three weeks... the benefit that Demoflow will get from the Techstars program will be 1000x any "cost" we paid to be apart of the program. If you had any questions about Techstars, I can speak from firsthand experience that it has been one of the best decisions we've made, and we've just scratched the surface.