Accelerator of the Week — 9Mile Labs
Do you have a killer idea for a B2B-focused startup?
Do you enjoy fresh seafood, stunning cityscapes and a vibrant cultural scene?
Can you tolerate a little rain and noisy, neon-clad Seahawks fans? :)If you answered “yes” to the above you should definitely apply to 9Mile Labs — an amazing accelerator located in beautiful Seattle. Not only will you get $35k in funding and a team of really dedicated mentors, but the list of perks is also pretty amazing (wink wink).
Why wait? Applications for Spring 2015 are now open.
Get on it, future 12th Man. In the meantime, read on!
Accelerator #5: 9Mile Labs
In just one sentence, what is your accelerator called and what do you do?
9Mile Labs is a B2B startup accelerator that provides $35k in funding, deep mentoring, state-of-the-art workspace and a network of investors, professionals, service providers and others to help startups achieve business success. 9Mile Labs also makes follow-on investments of up to $250k into a subset of the graduating 9Mile Labs companies.
What makes your program different or unique? And related, what’s your primary value-add?
Mentoring: Each company is carefully assigned 3 dedicated mentors for the duration of the 4 month program. This is different from the ad hoc model of mentoring in most other accelerator programs. This works partly because of the mentors we have selected into the program and because we do profit-sharing with the active mentors in the program.
Intense focus on customer development: At the beginning of the program, we ask the startups to put their keyboards aside and validate every hypothesis they have developed about their business. This validation is performed with the target customers and begins with an intimate understanding of the pain point that the customers are experiencing.
9Mile Success Framework: After working with many startups, we have developed a framework consisting of 9 critical success factors (CSFs) that we believe are essential to building a scalable, repeatable and profitable business model. These CSFs are — team, pain point, value proposition, product, go-to-market strategy, customer traction, competition, business model and funding strategy — along with a maturity model associated with each one of the CSFs. This framework allows us to select the companies into the program, design a structured curriculum focused on the CSFs and assess the companies during the program.
Follow-on Investment: Unlike most other accelerators, 9Mile Labs will make a follow-on investment of up to $250k in a subset of the graduating companies.
What do you love the most about working with startups?
The most fulfilling part of working with startups is the opportunity to work with smart and innovative entrepreneurs who have demonstrated conviction, passion and dedication to their business ideas. In addition, the energy and enthusiasm of startup teams is infectious, especially when they believe that they’re out to change the world.
What is the hardest or most surprising part of working with startups?
Most entrepreneurs embark on their entrepreneurial journey based on a product concept that they wish to accomplish. However, that single-minded focus on the product sometimes leads to a blind spot on identifying the target customer and the customer’s pain point. Leading an entrepreneur to acknowledge that they need to get more intimate with their customers can be hard, but very rewarding.
Do you have a success story to share? Who are the most notable or interesting companies to go through your program?
One of our favorite stories is Ghostruck, which is an Uber for local moving. While we were extremely impressed with the innovative concept and the co-founding team of Matt and Nathanael, we felt we could help them think through enhancing revenue and customer acquisition through other businesses. The engagement with the Ghostruck turned out to be rewarding for us as well as the Ghostruck, which ended up raising $1.5M+ after graduating from the program.
How, if in any way, has Foundersuite helped your company?
Foundersuite’s Raising Capital tool (aka Investor CRM) is among the most useful products we’ve seen. Most startups think of utilizing a CRM for maintaining their customer pipeline, however do not use the same level of discipline while engaging with investors. The Raising Capital tool enables the structured tracking and visibility for investor engagement.
Investor Updates. This is typically a painful and cumbersome process for entrepreneurs and typically falls off the list, even though this is an extremely activity for startups.
Finally, what is your best tip for running a startup?
Talk to your customers, face-to-face, everyday!
Thank you so much to 9Mile Labs. And to the rest of you — remember to scroll back to the top and hit the link for your application. Good luck :)