Looking back in 2012, I feel extremely happy and proud at all of the accomplishments of the Startupbootcamp teams, management, and mentors. The journey which brought my company, Poikos, here to Amsterdam, and took us from a tiny little team of awkward geeks, to a world-class company of tech heroes in just a few months, involved massive personal development and growth.
Accelerating further, and faster
The lifestyle in this beautiful city is hard to let go of – so hard, in fact, that we’re still very happily commercially head-quartered in Amsterdam. It’s a clean city, a city of history and charm, and an amazing culture.
Against this background, the Startupbootcamp accelerator programme proper is 3 months of intensive training a real crucible in which character, skill, tenacity and inner strength are forged in the white heat of intense pressure and drive to deliver, from all directions.
True to its name, Startupbootcamp truly separates the ‘Sergeant Majors’ from the ‘Cannon Fodder’. The experience of being accelerated is tough, and the pace is never-ending. Yet, it’s here that the true strengths of the individuals, teams, ideas and products are tested hard, developed quickly and enjoy extremely rapid growth. Startupbootcamp takes the best teams in Europe as fresh meat, and tenderises it all lovingly over several weeks to create first-class filet mignon.
However, Startupbootcamp doesn’t finish after Demo Day. There are a further 3 months of development and mentorship time in which to take the products and pitches of the first 10 weeks, and create a truly investable package, shopping this around to various potential investors. In fact, our Startupbootcamp Amsterdam cohort was so well trained in this process, that many teams were able to bring in investment either before Demo Day itself, or immediately afterward.
Unlike many other accelerators, there is a lot more beyond the first 3 month ‘crunch period’, and the 3 month ‘proposition and diligence ’period’. Startupbootcamp Amsterdam is leading the Startupbootcamp network in creating an Alumni Network. This network for alumni ensures that there is continual on-going support in the long and arduous process between pilots and customers and between pre-alpha’s and polished products.
Any aspect of business – from exporting in new markets, to recruiting key members of staff, to refining business models – can be brought into the Alumni network, for a blend of peer and mentor-lead assistance. It’s not just valuable advice either; we have personally enjoyed very direct, hands-on assistance from this Alumni network, which has saved us crucial time and resources during particularly challenging periods.
It’s one more example of the on-going, transformative value which having participated in Startupbootcamp has given our company.
Mentors in all shapes and sizes
Some of our mentors during the crunch portion of the programme ended up as actual investors. This was strange in a sense, since as mentors they had seen our team at its best and worst, in the toughest times, and in the greatest of joys. We feel greatly honoured, that having watched us, (and experienced working with us, and presumably enjoyed their experiences), several of our favourite mentors are now seed angel investors and shareholders.
For some of our investors, Poikos is their first direct investment into a company, so in some ways it’s a learning experience all round. In many ways, the best way to truly master an art is to tutor and coach others. Our team has experienced the state of being mentored, and now also of mentoring others ourselves. Interestingly, both states are highly rewarding, and have a lot to teach.