Lessons learned from my three months at Techstars, Boston

The last few months have been the most intense and challenging months of my life.

Straight out of a major surgery on my knee in January, I left for Boston to join another 13 companies for one of the wildest rides of my life — the Boston 2016 Techstars Accelerator program.

I don’t want to use this opportunity to comment on how great the program was for our company, I’ll reserve that for another post. This is about some of the advice, truths, lessons and experiences that I personally take away and am going to be forever grateful for.

Empathy

I learned a lot about emotional intelligence. I went through some intense personal journeys, a self-awareness rollercoaster ride. I learned this is a major development area for me. I read Crucial Conversations at just the right moment in my life to start a process — a process of learning how to empathise more deeply with my wife, colleagues and co-founder.

People

I was incredibly fortunate to talk, work, drink and dream with some of the most incredible people I have ever met. I realised that I have to make an effort to surround myself with incredible people. I feel 12 weeks in Boston did more for my professional network than university did in 3 years.

I am so happy knowing that amazing connections can happen in any number and at any age.

Values & Culture Fit

What are our values? A question I had never spent as much time pondering over as I did in Boston.

  • Transparency
  • Shared Fate
  • Authenticity

I learned just how important it is to be aware of your personal values, decide which ones you want to be embodied in your company culture and then to hire (and retain) only people who can become a part of that culture.

Soon after arriving in Boston, I had some difficult decisions to make. I realised some of our team members, while lovely people, were not a good fit for our company. Letting people go is extremely difficult and painful and that pain serves as a reminder every time I hire today, to hire for skills, experience and perhaps most importantly, values that align to ours.

Investors are people, fundraising is a game

Some of the mentoring I received was specifically around how to raise investment more effectively.

Surprisingly, the main lessons were about how people think, and the insights were fairly common sense. Like most people, investors want to follow the crowd. Their money goes in, when and where they feel like they’ll miss out if they don’t invest. They need to trust and know the people they invest in and things like regular updates, say once a month, help to build that relationship . I’m working hard to ensure, in the coming months, everything I say and do is based on the these principles — creating scarcity, regular communications and being authentic when dealing with investors.

The game…

I also decided to treat the fundraising process as a game — one where no one looses when we play. I am playing to win, I win together with whoever joins us.

Cadence, Metrics, Mentors

These are three points I want to dig into in my next post.