The last year had been a whirlwind of firsts: Eigenta was growing and so many doors were opening for us. We started slowly, changed the story many times, gained acceleration somewhere in the middle of the year and haven’t slowed down since. Among the firsts was Startupbootcamp ’12 program that saw us moving all the way from Bangalore to Amsterdam and iterate over what we thought was our final business model.
As we are moving from the early accelerator mode to a more controlled growth environment in 2013, I wanted to systemize my learning(s) and observations I gathered during the program. It all starts with the ‘best fit’ between startups and accelerator. For Eigenta, the fit came in the form of the program, the industry contacts and network that Startupbootcamp provided, and from the experience of the mentors and other founders. One thing that stood out during the program was the efforts they had put in to help founders develop as entrepreneurs. The interactive sessions with experts from various fields like corporate investments, legal or accounting services, marketing and technology, provided us the right knowledge to make effective decisions for our business.
Startupbootcamp provides a network of mentors that is very supportive and truly world class. The cumulative breadth of knowledge of the mentors, their enthusiasm coupled with their willingness to work closely with the entrepreneurs accelerated all the startups tremendously! Though most of the mentors are accomplished entrepreneurs themselves, they happily let us take the center stage and guided us in building our idea into reality, without pushing their own vision on to us.
Before we came to Amsterdam, we had a feeling that, when you’re doing something interesting you will meet people who are motivated to help you. But here we experienced, more than once, relevant people coming to us and saying, ‘you seem to be lost, is there something I can help you with?’ But a lot of homework is required before a founder can connect to a mentor. Don’t confuse a mentor with a regular business coach. Every mentor at Startupbootcamp has experience that can help you out in specific situations, but you need to anticipate or be in those situations to fully leverage that help. If you don’t get your head down and put your ideas into action, you will never be able to make the best use of all this experience at your disposal. Our advice to every founder, with the right mentor you can not only fill an experience gap, but also that skill gap which made you question many times if you have it in you what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
This 3 month program was a taxing experience. It brought a lot of pressure because we found ourselves for the first time responsible to more people, got lots of conflicting advice, and then had to devote a lot of attention to it. We realized it early that we did not come prepared, the program itself was taking up a lot of time, which was a problem.
It was a constant struggle to commit to the program, but more to our business. This meant: even when we were clearing our schedule so that we had all the time needed for the program, we had to make sure that we also give enough time to product development. My two cents to every applicant of Startupbootcamp ’13: If necessary, have people on board to continue development on your product so that you can benefit from the mentorship and advice. Having other people besides the founders available means that you can let them test things that you learn, without having to take time off the program. We learnt this the hard way and we think it’s crucial that you take care of this constraint even before you apply.
Believe it or not, life starts after the program. After we graduated out of the program, the first few weeks became a very demanding moment in our lives. It is a bit like moving out of the nest. From finding an office in a foreign country to adapting to the business culture could be cumbersome. It has been almost 6 months since the demo day and we still run to our Startupbootcamp network whenever we hit a wall, knowing that we will come back smiling. It is wonderful relationship that we foster with Startupbootcamp family of mentors and alumni and we wish our family all the best for 2013. If you are applying to Startupbootcamp Amsterdam ’13, bring your energy drinks, it’s not going to be easy here.