TechStars is an amazing place for a start-up to be. It helps founders and team members asses the product choices, question our assumptions, redefine our value propositions and in the end, make a better product – which hopefully results in a healthy company. This takes more or less the whole day from the team that is present at the accelerator. So to actually “get shit done” to quote Katie, teams usually work late into the night. Which is nothing we wouldn’t be used to, but when we’re back at home, we can pack up our computer and drive to the warm & cosy home bed, ideally with our partners waiting in them. When a team is abroad however, things get complicated. If nothing else, there is the matter of the apartment…
This blog post is a recollection of the weekend, as I remember it. On Friday we "left early” to catch our leasing agent and hopefully sort out the apartment contracts we had to sign. Once we got that out of the way, we decided to grab lunch. Close by our apartment and the leasing office, we discovered this great place called Staniford Cafe. When we finished, we went back to the office. We obviously failed to properly plan our time, so we came to the hotel at around 1am. Falling dead asleep is a mild understatement.
But tomorrow was Saturday. And we had big plans for it. They involved picking the keys of our new apartment, then driving to Ikea after which we’d grab some lunch and get some work done. Yeah, right… When we finished getting the keys, it was already noon. Next we needed to find a ZipCar near by. Not a problem, there’s one in the garage underneath our apartment. Well, it turns out if you plan on buying beds, a sofa and some other furniture, it’s a good decision to not rent the smallest possible car. So we found the largest one available near-by and hopped on the train. 20 minutes later we were sitting in a Honda CR-V, stuck in rush hour traffic, on a Saturday. At 3pm. Great. This was the first time we considered we may not fulfil our timing schedule we have set forth.
But, an hour later, there we were, in Ikea. We had a budget, we had a plan, we knew the dimensions, we started hunting. But it felt like it was the first time any of us was ever at an Ikea. We were completely dysfunctional. No system, no writing down, just some pictures on the phone. And that’s how you end up with two completely useless lamps, by the way.
Our big lunch plan was foiled by the sight of the long line before the Ikea check out. We decided to correct this and I jumped out of the line to grab three hot dogs. Intermediate measures, I guess. Once we finally cleared the line, a new challenge presented itself – pack it into the car! But we managed that too. Since none of us was in the mood to find more restaurants around, and drive like a headless chicken around Boston, we ordered some meatballs in the upstairs Ikea restaurant and started our first concrete product discussion.
This is where TechStars actually hits you. They really, really challenge you. Whatever you are doing may be good enough, but are you sure? What are your clients? Who will pay? How do you know? What are you solving? What is the customer’s pain point? Do they know they have this pain? These are all questions you need to answer, while also keeping in mind there is a whole team behind the product that needs to work on something.
About two hours of discussion later and we pull up to the apartment. We need to get the freight elevator but the concierge doesn't let us. It’s too late, she said. When we explained that we have nowhere to sleep she was kind enough to let everything happened. We unloaded & delivered the furniture in record breaking 10 minutes. But, our Saturday was not over yet. We left our bags at the hotel where we stayed the nights before. So, we hopped into the ZipCar again, and drove to the hotel.
Fast forward a couple hours again, and our beds are standing, we’re almost ready to go to sleep, when Vlada says: “I need to go back to the hotel”. He forgot his pillow there. Just our luck. So, we went to sleep at 2am, barely.