Reflecting After Exiting The Iowa Startup Accelerator
Greetings! For those of you who didn’t know, I’ve been a part of the Iowa Startup Accelerator in Cedar Rapids taking a venture called CareDrop through the process. It was a 95 day marathon of hyper learning and testing of every inch of your business model. I met phenomenal people who were a part of the other teams and experienced mentors who helped shape my accelerator experience. I took some time to reflect on what I have learned over the last 95 days and really absorb what I had been through. Here are my top takeaways:
Keep an open mind to feedback and advice.
You have to disconnect your personal feelings from your business. Even though you may disagree with advice/feedback someone is telling you, it is your job to figure out what the root of the advice is. Are they confused about a specific piece of your business model or is the way you’re communicating confusing? It took me a little time to adjust to this but I felt like it was one of the best lessons I learned at the accelerator. (Shout out to Trace Steffen for prepping me on this.)
Be grateful for what you have.
While doing customer discovery interviews, I interviewed people taking care of a loved one with different illnesses and it changed my perspective in multiple aspects of my life. I felt guilty for having complained or for being upset about small things in the past that paled in comparison to what it is like to be a family caregiver. The lesson I learned from the caregivers was to be grateful for the good every day, even the smallest things. Life is too short to worry about little things.
You can learn something from everyone.
Spending so much time around people from different backgrounds was a life-changing experience. I learned a ton about business and life from playing ping pong and grabbing lunch in the café. This experience has taught me to keep an open mind because you never know what the person in front could teach you.
A lot of background work goes into a polished pitch or product.
Teams received compliments on how solid and refined their pitches were on Launch Day. All of us rewrote our pitches and presented different versions soooo many times. The results were phenomenal, but it made me realize how much work has to go into your work to create something great.
Good habits make a huge difference on stress.
The days where I would make sure to take a short walk outside, meditate, or exercise were substantially less stressful days than the days where I skipped that routine. In a high pressure environment like the accelerator, it is easy to forget to follow a routine, but I know I paid for it when I did. Sticking to a good routine everyday helped me to stay relaxed and learn as much as I could from the experience.
Spending 95 days focused on building CareDrop showed me how much you can accomplish when you only have one thing venture you’re working on. I’ve been a part of several ventures and projects before that have had mixed results. By focusing solely CareDrop, it allowed me to put all of my energy into it creating the results we showcased on Launch Day.
Truly believe in what you are doing.
Starting a startup is very difficult. I didn’t realize how challenging it would be or how much I would have to give up in order to go through the accelerator. If you are thinking of starting your own startup or project, make sure it is something that you believe in and that you will be proud of at the end of the day. It has to be something that when you look back in a few years that will make the sacrifices worth it.
Well there you have it folks…those are my takeaways that I had from the accelerator. Looking back, it was one of the best and most difficult experiences of my life. I’m really excited to see where CareDrop and the other teams go from here, and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity.
Big shoutout to the other team members, friends, family, and mentors who were there every step of the way, thank you!
Thanks for reading and if you would like to reach out you can reach me at: