Learnings from Istanbul

Learnings from Istanbul

26-Jun-2014 by PatrickBosteels

#CultureHacking was one of the sessions we had this month and it came out as very useful. We have remarkable help from The Go Project, a great bunch of all nationalities specialists, acting as in-house mentors and inspirators. It was Alfonso Tinoco who guided us through the exercise. Which brought us some good insights, especially on how startups experience the acceleration and how it is partly influenced by culture. The local culture. This reminded me of a project years ago where we helped a big brand to introduce an affordable postscript printer in Belgium and we saw that in the north sales were not good, but very good in the south. After a quick survey, we found out the North didn’t like the printer, as it was too slow, while in the South, they liked it because they could have that extra time for socializing. No joke and what is more the same story in an African village, where a water-supply was provided in the village so the woman didn’t need to spend 3 hours walking anymore. They asked to shut down the supply, as they wanted their time back to socialize with the other woman to and back from the source. Food for thought – when we advise startups or want to steer things in a certain direction we tell them to forgetting the full context.


Alfonso is the one with the crazy hat 🙂

More things we learned:
– What is an accelerator?
For startups, this is apparently not as easy to answer as one would imagine. An interesting discussion started and it was clear that each startup tries to fit his/her startup-status in an overall definition. Basically, it means increase in speed or rate. This leads to faster success or failure, but the gain in time is in both cases very important. At the same time, we found out that failure is not done or even discussed in Turkiye. Another cultural difference and an important one.

– Follow the program
The accelerator is not a school where an attendance list is used but still you want the startups to show up at a maximum. What is important is to show the added value and the meaningfulness. Here again it is the strength of the program manager and his/her team that make the difference. Before you know the social impact becomes very crucial and the sense of belonging increases. This results in empowering the startups and to work together more intensively.

– Mentor engagement
Without any doubt an important issue, as Startupbootcamp claims mentorship is essential. But not as trivial as it seems. In the first month of the program the main target is to shape the product/service, so the startups are rather introvert. Getting into the head of the startups is even for the experienced mentors, not easy, but improves as we move to the end of the shaping. The mind-set changes and mentors become more and more involved. We do see that smaller teams are having it harder, as there is also the work that needs to be done with fewer hands.

– Individual follow-up
The shaping period starts of course with getting to know the lean method and after some time the importance is seen. From a more group approach, we evolved to an individual approach – what resulted in an individual roadmap. Not all startup are at the same level, so the first month is important to get the startups to a certain levelling.

So our #culturehack session and finally our Founders Feedback session, to conclude the shape period, is a pretty exciting one as we will start now on very specific roadmaps. The execution and go to market part.

What is unique in the startup ecosystem, at least for me, is the team approach compared with the one-boss company approach we had in previous decennia. This brings a whole new dynamic in the guidance of not an individual, but a group of people, with different skillsets and drivers. This has cultivated a richness in my own professional life as well.