A journey to the StartupBootcamp Finals
Have you ever tried to sell an idea to investors?
Our team at OnTrack successfully made it as the Top 10 finalist in the StartupBootcamp e-commerce program. Among 351 applications from 47 countries, OnTrack was chosen to participate in the program where we will receive mentorship, funding, and a network of support to accelerate OnTrack’s success in realizing the goals of making employee collaboration for all teams a reality.
Our journey started with the application and a pre-selection interview of the team. We ensured that we were very prepared. Our pitch deck was central to our preparation. Our team created a pitch deck that outlined the problem we wanted to solve: how do we measure and improve employee collaboration and engagement. We had to creatively show our value proposition, ensure our business model resonated and showcased the best attributes of our team. It was crucial to show them how our team was at the heart of the start-up. When we got shortlisted as the Top 20, we further refined our pitch to face the mentors and investors for the next round. This round would be tough as mentors only wanted the best start-ups that they believed would be worth investing their time and money. Our key was preparation — we conducted daily meetings to ensure that we researched the mentors, the companies that they represented, as well as made our website crisp and more visually appealing. We anticipated questions that the mentors would ask us and ensured that we had clear answers that would help them understand our solution and our team. Working with the team was a fun experience as we took every step of the process as a learning opportunity without caving into the pressure. It was also a test of our own collaboration. Another key part of the preparation was to garner valuable feedback from our network of advisors who have helped OnTrack to get where we are at this point.
On Sep 6–7, 2016, the Top 10 selection days took place in Amsterdam. There were 16 teams who pitched on stage and each team had very innovative solutions to problems. How could we stand out among the group of start-ups? On the first day, the team was virtually online while the CEO and co-founder Meme, pitched in the B. office in Amsterdam in front of several tables of investors. There were tough questions and we answered each of them in a spirit of learning. As Saif, the co-founder puts it “The SBC selection process was a great learning for me, I learned a lot while pitching to the mentors. I loved the ones who asked critical questions which helped us think more about the product. The feedback was awesome for introspection!” To close of Day 1 of the selection process, the most valuable piece of advice that Startupbootcamp co-founder and CEO Patrick De Zeeuw shared in his talk “29 ways startup founders f*** up” is that “Team is all that matters” (Advice #4) which follows “Idea is not the most important” (Advice #3). This especially resonated for us whose core mission is to ensure that we build stronger and more collaborative teams.
On Day 2, of the selection process, we joined Meme in Amsterdam where we spoke to more mentors. We fielded more challenging questions that tested our knowledge and the business model. The rest of the team who joined on skype made sure that we captured their valuable feedback for further analysis. We also had a session that analyzed the make-up of our team using a questionnaire to ensure that we had the right balance of personalities and complementary behaviors. We felt that it was a crucial part of the process and we were glad to be a part of it in person. They asked about what kind of leadership we had and how we envision each other work as a team. After what seemed like a full day of learning was also a great way of understanding our team better.
We enjoyed a stand-up comedian who spread joy and laughter about the Dutch culture and poked some fun the start-up names which gave a great positive vibe during the tense competition. The mentors would then select the Top 10 start-ups based on several criteria such as the team, the product, the market, the match between the mentor and the team. At the end of Day 2, we were happy to be selected as one of the Top 10, in a very exciting moment on stage with Startupbootcamp’s Marc Wesselink. Personally, it was a rewarding feeling to know that the mentors and investors appreciated the work we put in behind the product and that they recognize the value of our team. Plus, B. Amsterdam is such a cool building in a vibrant city which made it even more special that we made it out of so many teams in the world. At the end, what made us stand out was by being confident and by believing in our solution in front of the mentors and investors.
As the co-founder and CEO, Meme also describes her experience “Startupbootcamp Selection days were intense, confronting, and exhausting but absolutely worth it! I experienced how this adventure made our own team more connected. The achievement of being selected was really the result of passionate and dedicated teamwork. I’m very proud of our team.”
For more information about Startupbootcamp E-commerce and the Top 10 finalist start-ups, check out their website: https://www.startupbootcamp.org/accelerator/e-commerce-amsterdam/
Blog by Frances at OnTrack