This year was the first year we went on the hunt for amazing people to join our Startupbootcamp Berlin program. We are calling them Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) and the idea is that they add value to the program as well as to the teams and their companies. It has been an incredible experience so far – much more powerful than we could have ever expected. One of our EIRs, Kalie Moore, explains the concept of the Entrepreneur in Residence program and what the experience has been like for her so far.
You hear it everywhere, from Marissa Mayer’s decision to work at Google, to every generic article about hiring tips: surround yourself with smart people who challenge you. With this philosophy in mind, Startupbootcamp Berlin created the Entrepreneur in Residence program. As one of the first set of EIRs, I have to say: I think there is something to the theory.
There are six of us here, from five different countries with backgrounds in Marketing, Coding, Finance, and Product Development. Alex (CEO) and Wilken (COO) sought to provide more resources for the teams – entrepreneurs who could fill gaps, become co-founders, or build their own companies. Alex likes to joke that one day he’ll be able to say he poured coffee while we founded the next Google. They picked people they believed in, with personalities that fit the Startupbootcamp culture – entrepreneurs who would be motivated not by the cash, but by the opportunity.
And how is the program working? First, I checked in with several of the founders.
Justin, the Founder of ChatLingual, summed up the Entrepreneur in Residence program the best.
“To be successful, you need to have these skills on your team: sales, development, design, communication, vision, execution, product management, social media, and marketing / growth hacking. It’s unlikely that 2 to 4 founders will have all of those, and the EIRs have at least one of those very targeted skill sets. Before SBC, ChatLingual lacked communication and growth hacking. The mentors provided great advice around what we needed, but our team simply didn’t have the skills, nor the means to pay for consultants.”
High Mobility noted the benefit of having their EIR with them for the entire journey. “By committing to the team, Ben gave feedback and shared ideas with strong relevance to High-Mobility as a whole, rather just on a case-by-case basis, which happens with some mentors.”
EIR Chaney joined the Reccy team and hit the ground running with customer acquisition. As a client-facing member of the team, he managed to beat his own record time and again, the current record being 25 customers in one day!
Our most popular EIR, Pedro the coder, is always in demand to help teams solve crux problems.
We have tapped into our own networks to bring in potential investors, generate buzz, and create strategic partnerships.
After advising startups and managing marketing campaigns from my own office, I missed the excitement that comes with collaboration. I believe in the power of smart people working together, and I thought that access to world-class mentors would not only build my network, but also inspire. And it has. I’ve made contact with the top VCs and angels in Germany, individuals that I would never have met any other way.
However, the real inspiration has been the team that I’ve had the pleasure of working with everyday for the last two months. During my interview, Alex told me that an ideal outcome was to connect with a team, a startup you really believe in, and provide real value. And I fell in love with this team. Part of it is the product: we are breaking down language barriers. As a perpetual expat, it doesn’t get better than that. Most of it, though, is the people I get to work with, and the opportunity I have to experiment and develop new and relevant skills.
My background is in business development and content marketing, all of which I drew upon to support ChatLingual. To add greater value, I had to become expert in new areas quickly, so I immersed myself in new frontiers: landing pages, creating successful drip email marketing campaigns, and more. Not only have I executed these for Chatlingual, but also for my non-SBC clients, and learned enough to publish blog posts about them.
The work is new and engaging, but it is camaraderie that makes me excited to go into the office each morning. We don’t just work together, we cook homemade dishes from our home countries, we explore Berlin together, and we share intense and turbulent experiences of creating a company over Weisse Beer in smoky, underground jazz clubs. Startupbootcamp has been, hands down, the best professional experience of my life.
The sign in our office tells me that Demo Day, when the eleven teams will pitch in front of hundreds of investors, is a mere twenty-one days away. Given Startupbootcamp’s awesome track record, the majority of these teams will be funded. I think it is safe to say that some of the EIRs will stay with their teams.
Inevitably, many Bootcampers – team members, EIR’s, and SBC staff – will move on to the next project, but the connections made at SBC will remain. Our networks will grow as our experience grows – more smart people, challenging each other, in new and interesting ways, wherever we end up.