Hi Google, We are Parky

There are days you wake up to bad news. There are days you wake up to good news. And there are days you simply wake up to this:

“We are pleased to announce your attendance for Google’s 5 day program for startups, Launchpad Start, taking place at Campus Warsaw, Poland, from Monday 24th — Friday 28th April 2017.”

And so it begins! After 74 days of operations Parky was selected to be among the 2017 batch for the Google Launchpad Start programme. After 74 days. Google. Parky. Together.

Ok so it’s time to travel. Flights booked. AirBnB booked. Where to? Poland! 
The Google for Entrepreneurs Campus Warsaw, Poland!

The structure
The aim of the programme is hyper-acceleration & hyper-networking for early stage startups. Each day from 09:00 to 17:00 all the teams focus on a single topic:

  • Monday : Product
  • Tuesday: Design & Development
  • Wednesday: Marketing
  • Thursday: Business
  • Friday: Growth

The day starts with the Lead mentor (of the day) offering their keynote presentation on the topic. After that, either 1 or 2 mentors are assigned to your team based on your needs and their background for 1:1 meetings. They challenge you, they ask the hard questions and they give you “homework” which usually constitutes into re-designing or re-developing business plans, marketing plans, design assets, etc. At the end of the day, each startup presents their progress in a 5' pitch.

By the end of the week you have delved into these 5 topics with 5 keynote presentations, you have completed 1:1 sessions with a total of 5–10 mentors and had overall access to more than 50 mentors. Also, the food was great.

Don’t get me wrong but this is not your average accelerator that takes it slow. Mentors know what they’re talking about and they push the startups hard. If you were used to hearing “you are doing great”, then you probably should get used to “that’s not enough”.

Exceptional photoshop skills or a really cool photo?

Subjective highlights

Who is a good mentor: the one who asks questions. a lot of questions. the tough ones. but rarely tries to intervene and “show you how they’d do it”.

Who is a good mentee: “I never learned anything while I was talking” adopt this if you want to get something out of such events.

Product day: Focus more on the problem you are trying to solve and less on the solution you are already implementing. Are you sure you have defined the problem objectively or are you looking at it from a perspective that suits your product?

Design & Development: If you don’t have a designer on your team, then probably your design sucks and your UI/UX sucks as well. Period. It’s not about colours and shades. There are books written about the meaning of design, read them. Connecting the dots moment: 4 months ago our team decided to read the book “Design to Grow” by David Butler, and it came in really handy. Development is also very important, you don’t make products for your course final, they need to be made on a professional level and be operational 24/7.

Marketing: If you link marketing to ads and “Mad Men” you are off by half a century. Things are digital and require vastly more knowledge in statistics, basic programming and analytical thinking than ever. Great tool we were not aware of: Hotjar. Great tool we were not using to the fullest: Google Optimize.

Business: Don’t be obsessed with your cashflow projections, probably they are wrong and VCs have their own way of validating them. Instead of Excel, spend some more time exploring your business model. “Revenue solves all problems” — Eric Schmidt.

Growth: We could dedicate a whole new article just to this.

Our Tech Lead didn’t feel overwhelmed after his 3 hour session with Google programmers

Why we loved it

Let’s assume for a moment that we subtract the word Google from the title, is Launchpad still worth it?

Absolutely yes.

Unlike other events that capitalise on a big brandname without any substance, this was truly a unique and great experience. Mainly, for 2 reasons:

  • The mentors, because they teach you perseverance. Most mentors had one startup fail, and another one making headlines. It’s never a straight line to success, never an overnight success. Read this.
  • The international environment, because it strikes you out of your comfort zone. When you make a great start in your home country (i.e. win a few startup competitions, get seed funding, grow weekly on high double digits, etc) you may be unconsciously creating a comfort zone. When you talk with teams from all over Europe and mentors from all over the World, it wakes you up. Similar ideas exist everywhere, startups expand in new markets faster than ever and smarter people who work harder than you will sooner or later be a competitor. Get international experience, fast!

If you made it here, Bravo!, you can have a look at our Vlog (it’s in Greek):

More info: https://events.withgoogle.com/campus-startup-school-launchpad-start/#content