It’s pretty amazing that the first week in the Accelerator has happened. Less than a month ago we were struggling to narrow down 54 applicants and after a whirlwind of interviews and meetings we have our 13 Sandbox Finalists! In just the first week they’ve already done a ton. They met with dozens of mentors, listened and got advice from successful entrepreneurs and industry experts, worked on their value proposition and customer segment, began testing assumptions, and did basic accounting. We had a stellar lineup in our first week, including:
- Claudia Espinola, Founder & CEO of Casa Couture and MassChallenge Winner
- Valerie Kijewski, Associate Professor of Management, Manning School of Business, UMass Lowell
- Sidd Goyal, Serial Entrepreneur, Founder of Lean Start Up Challenge and CTO of TinyURL
- Frank Carvalho, Entrepreneur and Executive Director of Mill City Community Investments
- Roman Jaquez, Entrepreneur and Principal DVT Engineer at EMC Corp
Thanks so much everyone for all your expertise and inspiration!
A lesson I’ve taken to heart from those with experience running Accelerators is to always collect feedback from the entrepreneurs, they are after all our customers. From day one we’ve been meticulous. At the Kick-Off we scored an 8.8 average (out of 10) and received some great comments:
I was a little worried that a 3.5 hour kickoff would not keep my interest but I found both main speakers interesting and thought-provoking. I’m already thinking about my business in a different way.
We should NOT think of the Accelerator as a competition.
I like the continued emphasis on “getting out of the building” and getting to understand your potential customers. It’s easy to have many assumptions about our business.
We will continue to check ourselves not to over program. In all the conversations we had with entrepreneurs who’d been in Accelerators (and staff who ran them,) they all almost unanimously said the greatest values are the peer to peer connections with other entrepreneurs and the mentor relationships. So we will be sure to remind ourselves to step back and get out of the way. But that doesn’t mean we can’t quietly observe.
By far the best part of this week for me has been spending time with the Finalists. From the beginning of the planning I knew that first and foremost it would be about the people. It’s the people that make the program, the place, the community and now creating an experience of value is in our hands, 11 weeks to go!