My company, SieEnt, had the tremendous honor of participating in Project Skyway’s Bootcamp Weekend June 10-12. The experience was incredible, validating, educational and eye opening. It was a 3-day initiation into the Twin Cities tech entrepreneur scene. And that scene is full of energy, excitement and seriously awesome people.
I’ll break down thoughts by event:
Friday, June 10
The Geek Dance was a great party. A lot of networking and the questionnaire we had to fill out was a surprise.
Key learnings for me:
- Cem’s suggestion: write down/type a few notes about the person outside of what they do as you walk away or as soon as you have a moment.
- Resist the temptation to speak with all the people you already know all night.
- Ask those people you know to introduce you to other people you don’t know yet.
- While its super comfortable and fun speaking with other women, go out of your way to speak to more of the dudes .
Saturday, June 11
Executive Summary “Swap-and-Pitch”
This was really fun. You get the executive summary from another company and you pitch it as if were you’re own. Someone else, in turn, pitches your own company.
Key learnings for me:
- This is an awesome activity. Is your plan clear enough for someone else to understand it to pitch?
- Punt, punt, punt.
- I realized there was some messaging that I could have done better.
- I would have preferred being in a smaller group and having us pitch more than one business to the smaller group.
In this part we attended in small groups 6 different “stations” with mentors, Marketing, Legal, Technology, Investment, Strategy and Hiring. Because our group was randomly thrown together, we ended up with 3 very different businesses in the group. It was interesting to hear and learn about the different problems my fellows were facing.
- Treat your job posts like any other marketing, pr and sales copy.
- Talk to your network to discover strategic partnerships that you may not have considered.
- If you’re fundraising a lot of money, look for a broker who will help in exchange for some equity on the back end of a success.
- Your family investing your company looks good to VCs and angels.
- “Preview is the new beta”.
- I should probably retain a new attorney, or at least another one for other specialized issues.
- Build something that just can’t be knocked off.
- Define the next segment(s).
- It might have made more sense to group campers up by similar verticals or B2C & B2B since we only had 20 minutes with each mentor table.
Dinner was awesome. Our Project Skyway Ambassador didn’t make it but we enjoyed our time anyways.
Sunday, June 12
Go to the Gym & Pitch Prep
By Gym, they meant BizGym.
- We shouldn’t have spent so much time messing around with BizGym and just worked on our investor pitch.
- Practice, practice, practice. Spend more time practicing than writing.
One on Ones (really two on twos) with Cem and Casey
- Get your milestones defined and memorized. The next level isn’t “launch” for us, it’s another series of prototypes for which seed funding would be just fine.
- Our messaging around our business model isn’t clear. The focus always shifts to the game when the real plan is in the distribution and social platform that accompanies it.
Home Run Derby
Here we had to pitch and rate each other along with strangers in the audience.
- The community is kick ass.
- Omg Practice! I really need a lot of practice speaking more extemporaneously.
- I decided to start a meetup group called “90 Second Pitches, Bitches” so that people can practice like this in front of people.
- Go with your gut. I changed my mind at the last minute on customer pitch and I should have just gone with my gut.
All in all, made some new friends. I learned A LOT. I had a great time and loved being pushed out of my comfort zone and receiving feedback. It was a really validating experience and I felt like I was around people that really “got it”, that really knows the passion and anxiety that comes with launching a startup. It makes me wish there were more boot camps. How awesome would our community be with more boot camps?