90 days at a Startup Accelerator

Things that never get told, things probably every startup at an accelerator will relate to, this is my journey through an accelerator for my startup Neuron.

So you are starting up and for the initial exposure, Mentoring & nurturing you decided to join an startup accelerator program that will give all of this and thus you applied to many and got selected in one. Now this is a way many startups choose to get a rapid growth for their startup, but what happens when your are selected to join the accelerator is completely different scenario. Lets go through my journey in a startup accelerator.

Question yourself, if your startup will make it big enough to generate returns and create value.

So day 1 at the accelerator program and we were all very excited to scale what we have built. The day started with a normal informal introduction and discussion roundup, but soon we are all presented with some props and were divided into teams to play some awesome fun games. I suppose they did that just to help us forget all problems we may be facing or to get rid of any tension or worry that we had in mind. & it surely helped us to free our mind. Then we were asked a very simple question,

“Is your startup worth your time? are you committed to work on this for at least next 10years of your life? If not, then what is it that you want to build?”

This exercise definitely helped us understand the WHY of our startup. Why do we exist, why are we building this platform. I know as a founder we ourselves have answered these questions to us, but there is a lot of time gap between the day you started and now, so probably you may have a different answer for this question. Do this to yourself while building your startup every now and then.

Build & Iterate fast.

In coming weeks, For the first month (next 30days), we were introduced to a lot of industry mentors, techies who basically helped us understand that building a product with all perfection makes sense, but shipping it is the key.
We started our journey towards making the most stable product, but we were realized by amazing mentors like Abhishek Gupta and others that we have to move fast, we gotta ship. Because if we don’t we will never understand the needs of the market. Even though we have heard this many times before, we actually never took it seriously. But this time we realized that it is time to ship and iterate as the time goes and as our users responds to our product.

Stay hyper local to test it out.

Month 2 at the accelerator and everyone is making sure that they signup as much as early users/customers as possible. But you gotta admit one thing that you have to stay hyper local with early testing. When you have early users to test your product, your service it becomes very easy for you to get in touch with them if they are nearby. You can easily go on a personal meeting with them to understand their feelings about your products, you can easily figure out what are all the problems they are facing and understand their actual pain points. Its pretty amazing when you test your product within your community, it helps you grow quick and helps you understand the market much much better.

Fail quickly, learn fast and Build again.

One thing that i learned in the 2nd month of accelerator was you cannot fear failures. Failures are bound to happen, that’s how you grow. And honestly failures are amazing, you learn through them, you become much aware of the problems and you grow as a better startup because of it. Also, as i mentioned earlier, You gotta Build fast, fail quickly and then try again. There is nothing wrong in launching and relaunching your product multiple times. If you know, AirBnB launched 3 times and you can too.

Funds are limited, so use them wisely.

Accelerators, be it any in the world, you will only get by max $50k for the acceleration period, but you have to understand that this money is given to you keeping in mind that you can use it wisely. As a founder, i know that feeling of building an awesome team, so you may want to go pretty aggressive with hiring amazing talents in your team, but you gotta keep the runway in your mind. Go wisely with it. Spend every penny in a very controlled manner. No accelerator will give you the entire funds at day 1. It takes time, incorporations, SHA and lot of paper works, but when you get it, clear all your debts first and then spend it very wisely but also don’t bleed out your pockets. Its very important for you as founders to draw a minimum wages to manage your expenses.

Choose your co-founders very wisely.

I guess this is one of the major problems why startups fail early. You have to very sure of people you start with. I faced this problem and i know how it feels to loose a co-founder at the point when you are all ready to scale and suddenly you realize that it was your biggest mistake to take a wrong person in your team. I have to ask him politely to move out, so that he can work on his own startup and i can now work on mine peacefully. I wish him the best. I went through this, you should not, please choose your co-founders wisely.

And above all, you should party hard. As hard as you can, life is too short to be worried and much amazing while enjoying building your own things. We do party hard, weekly team dinner, overnight hackathons, X-Box hours etc. Just keep at it. While being at an accelerator we never rent a place to live, we lived out in the accelerator, we broke fridge, put the gym on fire, but to all i know it had it moments. One thing that you should learn in your journey in an accelerator is, no matter what Stay happy.

I am always open to share what i learned more in this journey of building startups out of an accelerator and you can surely contact me at veer@sellmouse.com .