life gener8tor portfolio company presenting at premier night

Working at a nationally ranked accelerator

Half-Year reflection on working at gener8tor — a concierge startup accelerator

Aleckson Nyamwaya
May 15, 2017 · 5 min read

For the past 7 months, I’ve been working at gener8tor Minneapolis as an Associate. I was officially brought onto the team on October 1st of 2016 (coincidentally they day before my 20th birthday).

Since then, I’ve had the privilege to work with a talented group of entrepreneurs during the gBETA program, collaborate with the unbelievably amazing staff at gener8tor as well as coordinating with various community leaders to provide tangible cohesive value to the overall MSP startup/tech eco-system.

In this post, I will be touching on FAQs, lessons learned, and providing advice for founders & individuals interested in getting involved in their local startup scene.

Let’s get started!

Frequently Asked Questions

The #1 question almost everyone asks me when I explain that I work for a startup accelerator. Perhaps Ana Maria Bujor of Risky Business answers it best.

“Being part of a small and determined team means job descriptions are overrated”.

In the words of E-News rumor report, this is SOO TRUE 💁!! For us, this means that we end up splitting responsibilities evenly. Sometimes there’s work only our Managing Director Eric Martell can do, e.g raising a fund. Even in that case, we still strive to balance the workload evenly to increase efficiency & productivity.

To be honest with you, it was a mixture of Hustle & Luck.

Hustle: I sent out emails to all the VC firms I could find in Minnesota. Two gave me the time of day, Ryan Broshar of Matchstick Ventures & founder of beta.mm and Mark Mcguire of Gravy & gener8tor. Ryan gave me the opportunity to volunteer at beta.mn where I met Mark McGuire for the first time and interviewed with him after the event.

Luck: I read in the news gener8tor was set to expand to Minnesota that summer. If they would have expanded a year earlier or late, let alone to another city, I don’t think I would be where I am today. Right place, right time.

To Founders & Aspiring Founders

Real world solutions that actually make the lives of other human beings easier are fun and interesting to work with & fund. It’s exhausting to talk to the Uber of X or the Venmo of Y. Everyone around the table, including your employees, are motivated when they are actually changing the world.

Team: Make sure to gather an intelligent team that has camaraderie. Conflicts can be healthy, but only if you can come out of it with progress and mutual respect for each other. If not, these feelings of contempt are extremely toxic and WILL cause damage. This also applies to investors and board members. It helps to seek counsel from someone you trust and who’s been in the same position or has seen it play out first hand.

Pitching: Don’t be sketchy; it’s impressive when the person pitching is prepared. That means ready to answer any question, anticipating questions that investors will have, creating a great clear pitch deck, having an executive summary, etc. Be clear and honest, otherwise, you risk coming off as sketchy and unprepared.

Get Discovered: Make it easy for you to get discovered! While recruiting startups, I noticed that some interesting companies were really hard to get a hold of. For example, there’s no email, phone number, or address on the website. Make it easy for investors, customers, users and talent to contact you.

Interested in the startup scene?

Learn: I found it helpful to seek out books by successful founders, Audible & Audiobooks.com were useful. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horwitz by far had the most impact on me. Podcasts are great, This Week in Startups by jason really stuck with me to this day.

And most recently the blog, Both Sides of the Table by Mark Suster. I’m sure I missed some really great books/podcasts/blogs so please name drop your favorites in the comments so myself and others alike can learn from them!

Get involved: Meetups, hackathons, happy hours, coworking spaces, business plan competitions, startup weeks, demo days, etc. Hangout where other startup people hang out and build a network (just cringed using that term).

Simply put, make friends with people involved in the startup space and express to them that you’d like to get involved! It also helps to find and talk to someone who’s doing what you want to do. You can gain great insight using this method. Don’t be afraid to use the internet as well. I’ve also compiled a comprehensive list of resources for Minneapolis.

Lessons learned

You can’t do it alone: As you can see, I would not be where I am today if people didn’t take a chance on me. I’d like to take this moment to thank you. Secondly, don’t let them down, they put their reputation on the line for you. The least you can do is go above and beyond.

Be creative: Getting a hold of people is an art. I learned that the more creative you are with how you get the attention of people and cut through the smoke, the more likely it is that you will hear from them. It’s a numbers game and it takes practice.

Entrepreneurs are different: During open office hours, I get the opportunity to meet and work with a diverse range of entrepreneurs. Although sometimes some of them are working on similar ideas they have different strengths and weaknesses.

Some of them may come in for emotional support (yes startups are hard) and others strategic help. Moral of the story is people are vastly diverse.

I am looking forward to working with 5 high growth startups this summer over 12 weeks in the inaugural gener8tor Minneapolis cohort.

The application deadline is May 21, 2017 (less than a week away) APPLY HERE.

You can find me on twitter or email aleckson[at]gener8tor.com

Startup Grind

The life, work, and tactics of entrepreneurs around the world. Welcoming submissions on technology trends, product design, growth strategies, and venture investing. Learn more about how you can get involved at startupgrind.com.

Thanks to Adam Choe

Aleckson Nyamwaya

Written by

Software engineer, Entrepreneur & community builder. Currently @gener8tor writer for @startupgrind

Startup Grind

The life, work, and tactics of entrepreneurs around the world. Welcoming submissions on technology trends, product design, growth strategies, and venture investing. Learn more about how you can get involved at startupgrind.com.

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