Rebound — Helping second-time entrepreneurs accelerate their journey to success!


In my early conversations with my colleague and Partner Dinesh Katiyar at Accel, I figured that he was keen to meet second and third-time founders. Himself a veteran of four startups, he knew the benefit of experience with founders attempting their second startup. He wanted to help them in their missions. Could we do some dinner meetings with the, he asked.

Unrelatedly, a couple of months back, I read a tweet by Shekhar Kirani, also an Accel Partner. It was on how second-time founders understood market size issues better and how they were careful choosing co-founders or building initial teams.

Shekhar’s tweet and Dinesh’s idea of dinner meetings got me thinking about a community focussed on second-or third-time founders. If founders who did not succeed the first time tried to start up again, could they learn from other practitioners on what and how to do better?

With that premise, I started meeting founders and talking to them about their experiences and the kind of help that they would need while starting afresh. Many of the challenges or the help that they sought were similar. Somewhere at a meta-level, a common ask was: a peer group of mature entrepreneurs where they could lean on each other for support and advice.

I went back to Dinesh, who is based in the Bay Area. He liked the idea instantly. A couple of conversations later, we launched the program called Rebound on 8th June 2019. We managed to get around 80 applications and invited 11 entrepreneurs to be part of the program.

The Founders who were part of the first cohort, with the Accel team

This was a pilot program as we wanted to find out if there is enough appetite and to see if we could add value to the founders.

The good news is that we are going ahead and we will be doing two cohorts in 2020 and are pleased to announce that we are rolling out the second batch of the program and inviting applications starting 24th Jan ‘2019.

Please note applications will close by 10th Jan 2020. Apply here

What’s in it for Accel, some of you may ask.

This is our way of #PayingItForward to the eco-system and make available our learnings from working with 100+ companies within our portfolio. The idea behind Rebound is not to spot funding opportunities for Accel but, hey, if some of the founders in this avatar or next want to partner us and it makes compelling sense, why not

How is the Program Structured

Five sessions in all. Each session two-three hours once a month. Followed by networking and dinner for another two-three hours where the founders listened to one another’s experiences and got to trust each other.

- Five Roundtable Sessions
- Community Dinners to have conversations.
- Pitch Tuning by the end of the program to improve your narrative.

The first session was focussed around knowing the founder, his/her journey, what he/she learnt in their previous startup, how the founder could add value to others etc. We also got everyone to sign a pledge to make sure they will keep the conversations confidential and discreet as many participants would openly talk about their vulnerabilities etc.

We also asked for feedback on what will keep them involved in the program, what will drive them away, and how we can make it meaningful for them. In this session, we had founders share strategies and tactics that worked for them and some that didn’t in their previous entrepreneurial journey.

The second session was focussed around Market Mapping — “How do we discover the intricacies of the market”. This was done by Shekhar, my colleague whose tweet triggered it all off. Shekhar shared case studies from within the Accel portfolio and how companies changed the market or added new product offerings to the same market. The session was very valuable and it allowed the founders to get a perspective on how to map the market.

The third session was focussed around fundraising. This was led by Dinesh who shared these lessons from Silicon Valley and presented cases from India. He talked about the bootstrapped model and the funded model and gave a preview on how a founder should be pitching to the VC including the kind of homework that they should be doing. He also talked about the key aspects that a VC looks for at different stages.

The fourth session was around Product/Growth Spiral models that can be leveraged by startups. This was led by Ajay Sethi, Accel’s Venture Partner, who took examples from our portfolio on product-led growth. You can follow Ajay’s writings here.

The fifth session was a full day session where we started with my colleague Narayan Thammiah, Venture Partner. Narayan shared his learnings on how to recruit for a startup when to start building a team, and setting the foundation of your organisational culture and building it.

Community events after the sessions…

He shared a personal hiring hack: he would always look for people who have played team sports, he told us. This naturally would make them good team players in an organisation. One of the other things that he highlighted was the Captain (CEO in a company) of the team is also allowed to make mistakes. He would always look for star players in his teams and the company’s success would always depend on getting good team players.

After this, we did a Product/Pitch tear down and all companies demoed their product/pitches. They got feedback from their peers and also from Dinesh and partner Prayank Swaroop.

We also got our share of feedback on what we can do better for the next cohort.

Founders from the first batch.

What did the Founders have to say?

Rebound was a carefully crafted program which helped me rehash key frameworks for building a business. The sessions by Accel experts were great — with case-studies from their portfolio companies. Also, learnt a lot from the peer group and made some friends for life ~Pranay — Signoz

Accel is awesome! Rebound is just a perfect program for second time entrepreneurs to validate / invalidate their strategies on building the product roadmaps, GTM, Pricing, Growth, Pitch, etc. I feel I had the solution right on top of the table whenever I stuck up somewhere in the progress.. that appropriate… that relevant! Summarizing it — just got a feeling of completing a Executive Program on Entrepreneurship organized by most relevant professionals!! ~Saldin — Apiplatform

I can’t recommend Rebound enough. It gives you access to partners, case studies of successful startups, constructive feedback on your startup and an amazing peer group who are constantly helping you tinker at your startup ~Ishwar —

Unlearning and re-learning is a constant journey for an entrepreneur- first time or repeat founders. Building a network with amazing entrepreneurs only makes that journey more valuable.~Dilip — ImStrong

Rebound was an amazing mix of entrepreneurs and VCs candidly discussing how to go about the process of company building for 2nd time entrepreneurs. Super helpful! ~Tanuj Mendiratta — Stealth mode

Just seeing repeat entrepreneurs sharing similar experiences yet a different take on the challenges in itself is a big enough takeaway, Add all the mentors which the team at Accel gathered just takes it to a different level. The effort Accel put in this program as a whole is just amazing. Loved the candid talk with the partners ! ~Prateek Jogani — Vouch Insurtech

Rebound program was refreshingly unique in terms of peer-learning opportunities from fellow entrepreneurs and no-nonsense, straight talk insights-laden sessions from experts and partners at Accel. It’s a Superb Academy to learn the insider info on what makes certain startups click and how VCs pick the winners. ~Afsal — BestDocapp

This was an unique experience. An intimate cohort with few of the finest minds, supported and mentored by folks at Accel. Every meeting had an actionable takeaway and the relationships built are for lifetime. It’s an absolutely different program as everyone on the table has experience with running prior businesses. Brings plethora of real time experience and knowledge. Recommend to anyone looking for like minded serial entrepreneur groups. Thanks Accel team for putting this together. Your efforts are commendable. ~Ankita — Enthrall

The discussions we had during Rebound were honest. They were personal and real, and full of empathy. Lots of learning from real startup scenarios. Highly recommended.~Abhinav Agarwal — Stealth mode

NPS for the overall program

We are now opening the 2nd batch

If you have been through the journey once and have started off again, we’d love to hear from you. We sincerely believe that being in a cohort with equally enterprising fellow-entrepreneurs can help shape the trajectory of your startup. Please apply here.



Avinash Raghava
Accel India Insights is now SeedToScale Insights

Building Community at @SaaSBoomi | Past: Community @ScaleTogether @Accel_India. Co-Founded@iSPIRT(@Product_Nation), @NASSCOM