The lessons I learnt at TechStars (Part I)

TechStars is "over". Of course, when people say over they mean that as a terminal word. Not in this case. TechStars is a network of people, mentors, investors, alumni and most importantly - friends. I already wrote about these people and how their attitude changes the way you think. So in this post, I wanted to focus on what I personally learnt at TechStars in the hope that other generations might read this, and have as awesome of an experience as we did.

Do more, faster!

This is the major motto of TechStars and the teams. TechStars challenges you to do more, and to do it faster than anybody else. When you start talking with investors, you realise that the key difference between a funded company and a non-funded company for them, is execution. You need to show that you are capable of performing, and outperform everybody else on the market. They get hundreds of emails a day, saying how good someone thinks their idea is. Showing them something tangible is an advantage.

Leverage Mentors!

Personally, I think we haven't done the best of jobs leveraging the mentors that we had. Not that we've done a bad job, it's just that sometimes I wish we had time to talk with more people, and get feedback on more things even earlier. I learnt that you have to pick some key people early on, and really work with them. They are there to help, remember? Validate with them, not for them! And keep a relationship going with all of them! Keep a Google Doc (or proper CRM) record of all the people you met, record their interest, what you told them, and keep them updated!

Sending out "investor/mentor updates"

What you write in these updates is incredibly important. You don't have to send them, it's not a requirement, but think of it this way: you're an investor/mentor, you meet 60 people in a week, who will you remember? The ones that will want to follow up with you, and show you the execution + the ones you really like. Keep the updates short, concise and to the point. Let them know what you were working on from a product perspective, what you did on the business side and if there is any progress on the funding side.

Focus, focus, focus!

Ideally, two people should attend introductory meetings with mentors. Someone a bit more technical (CTO) and of course, the CEO. But keep the guys working on the product removed from the noise coming in from the meetings. All the mentors are really helpful, but in three meetings, you will hear five opinions. This is called mentor whiplash. The person in charge of the product needs to be able to filter that out, and keep the team focused on the vision! Have daily meetings, first thing in the morning, talk to each other, let everyone know what is happening, what the plans are, etc.

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