Shai Goldman is a Director at Silicon Valley Bank and a long term supporter of Founder Labs. Silicon Valley Bank is also a sponsor of Founder Labs. We caught up with Shai to discuss some key trends in technology, mobile, entrepreneurship in NYC and the role of Silicon Valley Bank in the startup ecosystem. You can follow Shai Goldman on Twitter @shaig and Silicon Valley Bank @SVB_Financial.
FL: What are some key areas of growth for startups in the next few years?
Shai: Three key areas of growth come to mind. Applications for enterprise workers and security are two areas of growth. Not many startups are focused on these. Migrating legacy enterprise software to SaaS – particularly in areas like financial software, health care, government, is also a strong area of growth.
FL: Areas of growth in mobile?
Shai: You see very young kids, 2 or 3 year olds, on iPads. There are significant opportunities for creating learning and content applications. There are some applications out today but this area is still wide open for growth and investments. Mobile enterprise applications is another area.
FL: Silicon Valley vs NYC - what are the pros and cons in starting a company in NYC vs. Silicon Valley? How have you seen NYC change as a start-up hub in the past 6 months - 1 year?
Shai: There is so much energy in New York City. Several new funds and incubators started up in New York recently. Fashion, commerce, advertising, digital media, financial services – all these are areas of strength for New York. Several large companies are based in the east coast, so enterprise companies have an opportunity here since their client base is here. There are some verticals where Silicon Valley has an advantage – e.g.: cloud computing, hardware etc.
New York needs a few large exits to create more angel investors similar to Silicon Valley – companies with 1000+ employees with large exits. The recent Ad Meld deal is an example – we need even larger exits. There is a lot of personal wealth from investment banking and private equity in New York. Need to educate these individuals to become sophisticated angels to further promote startup growth.
FL: What is the role that Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) plays in the startup ecosystem broadly? In NYC? When should entrepreneurs consider SVB?
Shai: SVB is a commercial bank. We have been working with startups for 30 years. Every startup needs a bank account and we can provide that. We focus on the tech sector and work with everyone from two founders incorporating a company to founders preparing for an IPO of their company. We provide banking services and loans to technology companies.
In NYC specifically - we have been here for 10 years and know the market well. We work with a wide spectrum of clients ranging from Kayak, which is about to go IPO, to smaller companies just starting out in General Assembly.
FL: What are the criteria that SVB looks for, before lending to a company?
Shai: We look for VC-backed companies, but also serve non-VC backed tech companies that have a 5-10 MM revenue run rate and are growing rapidly.
FL: What advice would you give (based on your experience at SVB) to first- time entrepreneurs/Founder Labs participants about starting a company?
Shai: Based on having worked with many startups in the past, I would say this: Everything in a startup takes longer than you expect - building the product, hiring, fund raising etc - so plan for that.
FL: What are your thoughts on the Founder Labs model?
Shai: Founder Labs has a unique model. Enables people with full time jobs to work evening and weekends to build a company. It pairs up people in different industries with different skills sets and accelerates the process of getting to know a co-founder.
FL: Thanks, Shai, we appreciate your time and support of Founder Labs.
Posted by Resmi Arjunanpillai, VP Marketing, Founder Labs
Unions Square Ventures (USV) partner and Founder Labs mentor Fred Wilson has worked closely with early stage companies for several years. We caught up with him at his office to talk about USV’s investment philosophy, the startup ecosystem, team dynamics and mobile startups.
FL: Thanks for taking the time to sit down and chat. To start, can you talk about what effect you think programs like Founder Labs have in the startup ecosystem?
Fred: Founder Labs is really helping with team formation, and then the idea, ultimately trying to get to real validation of the idea. I’d say Founder Labs comes into the picture very early, before venture capital. But it has a unique place. In Founder Labs, if you’re working with a team over a 5 week stretch, you have an idea of whether the team is going to work and be compatible.
Programs like this are trying to help people who are starting companies for the 1st or 2nd time navigate through that process in a more efficient way, with a higher degree of success.
(Note: Fred Wilson wrote a blog post about Founder Labs and the teams that formed during the 5 week session. You can read it at http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/06/founder-labs-continued.html)
FL: What do you think some of the key areas for growth are in startups generally, and in mobile?
Fred: There’s so much opportunity out there, its kind of hard to give you a couple of specific interesting categories, but in mobile, the most interesting applications on the market today are ones that can deliver an experience on a mobile device that you couldn’t have had on a desktop or laptop - whether that’s a geo-located experience, a real time experience, or one that’s taking advantage of the capabilities on the phone — the camera, or the microphone. I think its important for entrepreneurs to think creatively about things you could use a mobile device for, and really push the envelope there. That’s certainly a big area of focus for us when we’re trying to look for new ideas.
FL: Any other really notable changes in the ecosystem, recently?
Fred: Customer Development is really important, giving people a way to test their hypothesis early on, get feedback from the market quickly, to know if they’re doing the right thing. I’ve seen companies spend 2 years building something nobody wanted when they finally released. It’s such a waste of time and money.
Another thing that’s changed a lot is the willingness of investors to back things earlier. There’s a much bigger community of angel investors here and in the Valley. It may not be hundreds of millions, but an entrepreneur can raise quarter million, half a million, even up to a million dollars fairly early on in the life of the company, whereas it was much much harder to find that kind of money in the past. It’s making a big difference.
FL: How about the importance/impact of diversity on teams?
Fred: There hasn’t been much of it over the years, which has been unfortunate. The more diversity we see in a team, the more excited we are about the team, whether it’s gender diversity, or ethnic diversity, or age diversity. It suggest to us that the team has a more open minded way of looking at things. If everyone is a 24 year-old white male, and there’s 6 of them, they’re all going to be thinking about the same thing in the same way. But when you can get lots of different points of view into a team, you spark debate and creative tension that sometimes produces the best products and the best companies.
FL: What are some of the tenets of a great team?
Fred: I think teams need a leader, which is ideally someone who controls the product vision. At an early stage, teams should be product heavy and business light, so I don’t think it makes sense to have a bunch of sales, or marketing, or business minded people. I think that’s appropriate at some point in the company, but not necessarily right at the start. So we look for teams which are engineering and product-heavy, and founders who can be the VP of Product for at least the first 2-4 years of the company’s life, and people who were doing the startup because they have been interested in the market that they’re going after and the problem that they’re trying to solve for a considerable amount of time. We don’t really like people who say “Oh gee, we can copy this company and add this little twist and we can make a bunch of money so lets go start a company.” It can work, but it doesn’t work as well as teams who are coming at it from a much more fundamental place. And we like category creators, people who are the first to develop a company and a market, as opposed to copy cats.
FL: Any advice for someone who’s deciding whether to act on their entrepreneurial inclinations?
Fred: It has to start with the idea, and if they’re really passionate about the idea, and they can’t stop thinking about it and are just dying to go out and build it, they should do it. And if they’re doing it because they’re bored in their current job or their friends are trying to talk them into it — may be not.
(Fred Wilson meets with a Founder Labs team)
(Founder Labs team working session)
Posted by Ana Hevesi, Community Manager at Shapeways, and Founder Labs team member.You can follow Ana on Twitter @anoemi
Fred Wilson was an active mentor during the program and a judge on Demo night - he wrote a blog post about Founder Labs and the teams that formed during the 5 week session:
“The first NYC program was so strong and there were are least two teams, maybe three that will come out of it with real traction. The winner last night was Smarketplaces, a project to put ebay/etsy style marketplaces on blogs like Disqus has done with comments. It has great promise. Authy was also quite strong with a user side solution for simple and easy two factor authentication. There were two interesting projects around alternative medicine services and helping people with food allergies navigate the world of food. We also saw new ideas in social music and daily deals.
Regardless of whether all of these teams turn into startups and businesses (I think several will), all the participants will come away with an appreciation for how to get a startup off the ground, what makes a great team, and how to quickly find out if your idea is a good one. And because of that, Founder Labs is a winning formula.”
Read the entire post here: http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/06/founder-labs-continued.html
Thank you, Fred for your continued support of Founder Labs.
This week, Mozilla Labs launched Web FWD (Web Forward) - a community-driven innovation accelerator. Web FWD supports web app, mobile, or social product innovators by providing a space at Mozilla where they can build their products. Founder Labs CEO Shaherose Charania is a mentor in the program.
The program has rolling admissions, so founders can apply at any time. During the four week program, teams will work in-house alongside the Mozilla crew at Mozilla’s global offices. At the end of four weeks, teams will have a minimum viable product ready to go out on the Open Web. Learn more…
It’s the end of week 4 here at Founder Labs, and the pressure is on. In just 3 days, we will have our final presentations, so all of the Founder Labs teams are working fast and furious to build out our demos and hone our pitches. On Wednesday, we will present our ideas and learnings in front of a room packed with over 60+ mentors, entrepreneurs and a panel of investors.
This final push is very focused on our pitch (presentation + demo). Though I spent some time in management consulting where I made decks and presentations for a living, I’ve come to appreciate that the entrepreneur-VC pitch is a very different animal. We’ve had the unique opportunity to practice our pitch each week in front of notable VCs (e.g., Fred Wilson, Jim Robinson, Ann Miura Ko, Theresa Gouw Ranzetta and many, many more…) and through this process my understanding of what VCs look for has evolved. I’d like to share 6 lessons I’ve learned about building a compelling pitch for VCs, many of which were not initially intuitive to me.
Lesson #1: Use pictures, not words
This will be counterintuitive for former bankers and consultants, but VCs expect you to tell a story with pictures and speak to ideas, they don’t like a lot of text on a slide.
Here’s an example of a typical consulting slide: http://bit.ly/iJ47r4 (BAD)
Here’s an example of a VC-worthy slide: http://bit.ly/iHcrle (GOOD)
Obviously I’m making a broad generalization here, and the image I’ve labeled as ‘good’ would need to be weaved into part of a cohesive story, etc. The point I’m trying to make is that your pitch shouldn’t feel like a book report, it should be exciting and visual. You don’t need to write your points out in bullet or table form on a page, you should be able to speak to your key points without prompts.
Lesson #2: Explain why you and/or your team has unique market or customer insights.
Ann Miura Ko from Floodgate explained this in the context of her decision to invest in ModCloth. The week she met the founders of ModCloth, a number of companies came in pitching similar fashion start-up ideas. However, these other teams weren’t able to convince her that they had any advantage in understanding the fashion market or the fashion customer. When she asked these companies what fashion magazines they read, they weren’t able to convince her they knew what they were talking about. She contrasted this with the Susan Koger from ModCloth. Susan came in and made it clear she had been vintage shopping since she was 13, and that she clearly understood the community of vintage buyers and their needs. Figure out for your idea what your personal competitive market/customer insight advantage is — and find a way to explain this in your introduction. (Don’t force this, be authentic. VCs see hundreds of pitches a day and will sniff you out if you’re faking it. If you don’t have a unique competitive market/customer insight advantage, you may want to start recruiting teammates who do.)
Lesson #3: Be a ‘thunder lizard’.
This is another piece of advice from Ann Miura Ko. VCs want to invest in billion dollar ideas, not million dollar ideas. So make sure you can explain why your target market and your ambitions are big.
Lesson #4: Team dynamic matters.
If multiple people present, make sure that your hand-offs are smooth and that you have talked with your team beforehand and can answer tough questions (e.g., how equity will be split, who is the CEO). In one of our mentoring sessions, Jim Robinson from RRE actually tested us on this. He wanted to see how we had worked through potentially contentious issues — so he asked us who came up with the idea for our company name, and then later on explained that he primarily asked to observe how we would answer.
Lesson #5: Be energetic.
You need to convey passion. Seems obvious, and I don’t doubt everyone goes into a pitch trying to be passionate, but sometimes things don’t go over quite how you plan. Try videotaping yourself doing your pitch and watch the playback, it really helps! I didn’t realize how much I clasped my hands, or nodded my head in agreement to questions until I saw it on replay.
Lesson #6: Brevity is appreciated.
Be brief. If you can’t sell someone on your idea quickly, you’re doomed. Here’s a 9 point structure for pitch decks from Shaherose Charania (our fearless leader, Founder and CEO of Founder Labs and Women 2.0). I’ve found it really helpful, so I thought I would share her wisdom with you as well:
Sonia Sahney is a former engineer and a semi-professional shopper (10,000 hours+). This combination has fueled her passion for the intersection of digital and retail. Sonia is currently a co-founder of Smarketplaces. She graduated magna cum laude with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Michigan and has a MBA from Harvard. Follow her on twitter @ssahney. For Smarketplaces launch information go towww.smarketplaces.com, and to learn more about the Smarketplaces team go to www.smarketplaces.tumblr.com.
Our Final Demo Night for Founder Labs NYC is sponsored by Prometheus Springs, the world’s first capsaicin spiced elixir. This beverage company is a NYC startup and has been on shelves for 24 months now and is available in Whole Foods and other premier markets like Wegmans, Sunflower Markets and Central Markets totaling up to about 1000 stores. We’re interviewing Rahul Panchal (@rahulpanchal), founder and CEO of Prometheus Springs (@drinkprometheus).
FL: Thanks for sponsoring the Founder Labs event, and sharing a little bit about about how your startup got up and running. First, how did you find your team?
Rahul: If we put the evolution of the company up on a timeline, this would be the longest part of the process. Finding the right team is tough. When I first start making spicy drinks for myself in college I couldn’t get anyone to take the idea seriously. 5 years later, I was living in Miami, working in advertising, and I had a fake band that my friends and I kind of wove together. The band was such a silly and nonsensical thing and we all took it pretty seriously, and worked pretty hard at certain aspects of it, like getting custom jumpsuits manufactured. Once day I just asked the guys if they wanted to see my spicy drink recipe.
FL: How did you validate your idea?
Rahul: I was working in advertising at the time and some of the clients we had gave us peeks at all kinds of really hardcore market data. Everything I saw in the data showed that spicy flavored things where outperforming the normal flavored things in several food and snack categories ranging from candy, to fast food, to even condiments. I couldn’t find anyone doing a spicy drink so I quit my job and eventually got my friends to come with me. Also, our tech is consumable… so we just have to try it. If it’s good it works - it’s not really worth over thinking it.
FL: Did you have any mentors?
Rahul: I try my best to live as a grasshopper (kung fu metaphor), and let everyone be my mentor. I used to take homeless people out to dinner to hear their life stories and learn what perspectives they have that enables them to so completely detach from society. When I decided I was starting a drink company I just started making friends with other drink company founders and anyone who’d ever started anything. I reached out to everyone I could and even stalked some on Facebook and started asking them questions that way. I didn’t know anything about drinks, or business. I was an art major. I learned everything I know about the beverage world from other beverage entrepreneurs and everything I know about business from all kinds of entrepreneurs ranging from guys who have taken companies public to guys who just make tons of cash. So I guess I’d say I have a bunch of mentors.
FL: What are your customer development practices?
Rahul: For the first year, my partners and I would hang out in Whole Foods and tell people to try it - we grew 500%. The second year we did the same thing (with more structure and a team of about 60 part time folks) and grew 150%. Now that we’ve proven the concept and it’s just about growth, we’re looking for bigger and leaner ways to generate awareness and nurture our existing customers.
FL: How do you decide on what new flavors to launch?
Rahul: At all of our tastings around the country, we tell people about the product and listen to their feedback. So we document all this and make adjustments and design new products around what we think our market will be most interested in drinking. Our latest flavors are Mango Chili, Citrus Cayenne and Spicy Pear.
FL: How do you get your grassroots early adopters on board?
Rahul: We are kind of doing it right now actually. We sponsor a lot of events that focus on more intellectual pursuits. We avoid marathons and things that most sports drinks flock towards. We’re the drink of fascination, the thinking person’s drink. Did you know that people who eat spicy foods have higher IQ’s that those who don’t? We have also been interviewing writers who drink Prometheus Springs as a way to ward off writer’s block. We are finding that it has applications for all kinds of creative people.
(Union Square Ventures Partner Fred Wilson listens to presentations from Founder Labs teams)
Ethnographic Study: When happens when you place 16 bright, enthusiastic and well armed people in a room for 48 hours, and tell them to naturally pair into groups of four to start a company? Is it mayhem? Is it lean & mean product development-speed-dating? Or is it a brilliant way to connect programmers with UX designers and business strategists to design, develop & launch a mobile application and start a company? Elevator pitches head skyward only to get shot down and crumble into dust like clay pigeons, egos are smashed and slammed like hockey pucks and the horse trading begins, but eventually the smoke clears and teams form.
Now that we are a team - Virgilia Singh, Business Strategy, Arun Ahuja, Product Development & Jenine Lurie, UX Design - just what exactly is the business? We began on a quest to fix sleep apnea by designing a mobile app to monitor sleeping patterns, and to recommend remedies. We learned quickly that a hardware component would be required, and then realized that this device is only sold and distributed to medical professionals and sleeping labs. Short of hacking into the online store by forging our way with fake medical credentials, we decided collectively to “pivot” from the product idea. After 12 hours of ideation with white boards (some of the popular contenders were: A Digital Lock, Pandora for Videos, Mobile Mystery-Shopper) we decided to remain in the Heath Care space, but to rather focus instead on Alternative Treatments for Consumers.
After a whirlwind of competitive research we learned that the WebMD and ZocDoc do a great job of addressing consumer’s needs with traditional medicine, but there is no other product that directly connects people with Alternative treatments. By conducting customer surveys, we also discovered that there is a tremendous amount of people with a wide range of health conditions who use alternative treatment to manage & maintain their health & complement traditional medicine. We learned quickly that treatment specialists are referred by word of mouth, it is a fragmented community, and there is a huge desire to build their independent practices by marketing themselves to a wider population.
The idea soon thereafter formed into a brand, and Exhale Health had its first breathe of life. It was next formed into a business pitch and based upon our research, wireframe prototypes of how a consumer would navigate their way to finding an alternative heath care specialist. The prototypes were socialized around for comments and feedback from the group and the following mentors: Frank Harris of Etsy, Jon Teo of General Catalyist Ventures, Jim Robinson of RRE Ventures and Ron Goldin of Studio Akko. The comments were extremely useful and full of insight. In particular, we received input around the lead-gen business model, and how we can use the platform to further expand upon the service as a business, rather than simply a directory.
Next steps: Design, iterate, test & iterate some more. Then book a really good 90-minute massage.
About the guest blogger: Jenine Lurie is a Usability Strategist who has consulted on enterprise level business solutions for a wide variety of Fortune 100 global clients over a 10-year career. Her process is to advocate for the customer as team member in the product development cycle & champion the user experience in application design. She holds a BA in Communications & Cognitive Science from Hampshire College, and a MPS Degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. She is a resident of New York City, and finds inspiration from the subtle yet complex daily exchanges in elevators and subways rides. You can follow her on Twitter at @JenineUX
(Founder Labs Team Spiderfruit doing Customer Development in Union Square Park - June 12th, 2011)
The brainstorms flow, the sketches come together with a final flourish, and the engineers reason through how the database schema can be perfectly laid out. But the tough news for most potential startups comes when they “get out of the building” and go find out if the product fits the market. Who are you serving exactly? Do they really want it badly enough to engage with it in these crowded times where there are 5 apps for everything? What problem are you solving? These questions and more needed to be answered as we intensify the Customer Development (“CustDev”) process during FounderLabs week 2.
Getting out of the Building
The emerging movement around Lean Startup methodology embraces the agile, nimble, incremental build of a product, starting with a clear focus on customer needs and navigating the way to a business model and an ecosystem. This focus on solutions and customers, rather than technology or product, is one I’ve always followed, and has served well in a variety of sectors and segments including my last few years of work in Uganda, where rapid prototyping was a critical step in everything we attempted.
With the emergence of Lean Startup, we begin to have a taxonomy and a process for what before was simply gut-feel best practice. We fail, fail, and fail again before getting anything right, which means, going too deep into any particular build of technology or product or sales channel before validating it, is a mistake. And one you see way too often even today. When you get out to the field you often get surprises and learn things you didn’t expect. Ugandan customer visits often resulted in the gift of some bananas or even a bag of rice, and always many big smiles. New Yorkers who you approach properly give you the biggest gift they can offer – their attention for five minutes and an amazing level of honesty and engagement.
As regimented as Lean Startup is becoming, at the end of the day, introducing new products to a market is more art than science. The newer the behavior, the more difficult it’s going to be to get those customers to tell you they intend to do it. Sure, a restaurant in 1997 probably was aware and could tell you their registration process was a mess before existed. But could Harvard students in 2001 tell you they wanted a directory of fellow students so they could hook up pre-Facebook?
The trick in this whole business is to ask questions that get at the root desires and behaviors, and explore the motivations behind them, without leading or presuming. Imagine asking African farmers in 2007 - with mobile penetration below 20% - what kind of mobile services they desired. You’d get a lot of blank looks. If you said “you want an application that will help you grow bananas, right…?’ the answer would be yes, but it really wouldn’t tell you anything. And if you go the other way and are too skeptical, you’re unlikely to get traction with any idea. Big, dumb questions are the way I’ve always gone, with a lot of followup ‘why?’ until you get to something usable. I believe getting and interpreting CustDev feedback will continue to be the most challenging part of building new products, and the one that separates the fast failers from the people who are destined to burn years finding out a product isn’t a good fit.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled Customer Development.
About the guest blogger: Eric Cantor is an entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial leader who has spent the last fifteen years on the cutting edge of technology, business and international development. He is the Principal of Mobile Global (www.mobileglobal.com) and can be found on twitter as @mobglob
Week 1 started out with a bang as all the Founder Labs participants had to choose their partners for the next 4 weeks. It’s like a game off dodge ball, where you have to choose people based on compatible skill set and personality.
And boy, was it an intense 2 hours!
People teamed up based on a variety of reasons: from similar interests to pure likability. During this time we had Shaherose’s voice in the back of our mind “people matter, ideas don’t.” Something we learned quite quickly.
At the end of the day, the people you work with and the team dynamics that ensue as a result matter more than the idea you initially come to the table with. There were teams that were interested in education that ended up pitching ideas in online marketplaces. Others walked into the program with one very focused idea, but then ended up pivoting after finding a good group to work with.
Think about building your team as finding your startup soulmates, and ask yourselves the following questions:
If the answer to all of those questions are YES, then more power to you and your team! Now you can all move on to determining tangible qualities such as:
Complementary skills: Founder labs is structured so that there are 2 engineers, 1 designer and 1 business person on each team. There is a very logical reason for this - everyone has their own unique selling proposition. Each team member should bring a valuable skill to the table. In our case, since we are building mobile products, it only makes sense that the engineers understand what technical elements go into prototyping the product, designers understand how the user will see it, and the business “hustlers” are able to understand the customers mind sets.
Stay Lean and Iterate Fast: During the early stages of our program (or a startup), ideas can literally go in any direction. By having an agile and lean team (we all love buzzwords), you reduce the risk of delayed decisions, miscommunication, and essentially building a product that won’t work in the market.
All in all, there is one thing that we should all remember while entering the next 3 weeks, build a solid team first, and a good idea is sure to come.
About the guest blogger: Virgilia is a seasoned business professional with a rare mix of startup, corporate and government experience. Currently she manages new mobile and web ventures and strategic partnerships at Invoke Media (the force behind Hootsuite and Eat St.) and she also co-founded Student Care Abroad. Previously, she was the Co-Founder of GenJuice an exclusive network of 20-something content producers and bloggers, and now serves on its Advisory Board. Prior to that she was the youngest Management Consultant spearheading a Cloud Computing platform for the Department of Navy while working at Booz Allen Hamilton. She has worked across a variety of industries and companies including two TechCrunch Disrupt startups, Intel, and spearheaded a microfinancing initiative directly for the Women’s Empowerment Action Team within the UN. In her spare time, Virgilia serves as a NYC Ambassador for the Sandbox Network, the foremost global community of extraordinary young achievers below 30, and hosts monthly brunches for motivated women in the city. Virgilia holds a B.A. Honors from ASU and a MS from Thunderbird School of Global Management. You can follow Virgilia on Twitter @VirgiliaSingh
Perhaps none of us would ever admit to believing in the proclaimed day of rapture, or perhaps the 14 of us who arrived on one of the rare sunny days of 2011 figured that it would be as good of a day as any to meet some new people and start a new company.
Personally, I arrived at 9:30 a little bleary eyed. It was a Saturday morning after a particularly long flight with a botched connection from DFW. It felt strangely similar to the first day at middle school, complete with my utter inability to find the entrance and a blanket of general awkwardness in the room. Thank goodness for coffee.
Each of us came with an idea, some more thought out than others, and had unique backgrounds, both personally and professionally. One of the nicest surprises was finding that there were 2 others outside of myself who had also been involved in social enterprise. The only 2 things that any of us seem to have in common was a certain level of commitment to the program and a certain savviness about technology. Oh yes, and that most people tried to come to the program with an open mind and no expectations.
Fast forward 2 days. It’s now Monday morning, our precious day off, or for most of us, it’s… Monday morning, the start of yet another work week. The 14 of us have spent close to a full 24 hours with each other. It’s been a firehose of information, and a series of team exploration activities where within a few minutes of a time-pressured team activity, true personalities emerge, sometimes to the surprise of others.
We have 5 weeks. 5 weeks to team up, iterate on our concepts, figure out the best ways of working together and apart, and to show something that is both close to our hearts and economically viable. 5 weeks to show off what we each bring to the table and how as a collective, we can all raise the bar. 5 weeks to see if perhaps, at the end of the 5 weeks, we can wave our day jobs goodbye and plunge into entrepreneurship full time. Let’s see. I’m certainly hopeful.
About the guest blogger: Mimi Hui is an entrepreneur and seasoned technology professional. Mimi is the founder of Canal Mercer, a consultancy focused on holistic product development to build systems and services to improve daily experiences. She graduated with a BSEE from RPI, and an MA Design from Brunel. You can follow her Twitter @CanalMercer