By Marcio Souza
For the first month of the Techstars accelerator program, startups founders use these 30 days to set up meetings and introductions with various Techstars mentors, who will hopefully be a guiding force for their companies. It’s a stressful, but very rewarding experience and we learned many things during this month that are applicable to entrepreneurs across the board. Here are three most important lessons we learned during Techstars Mentor Month:
1. Take As Many Meetings as Possible
At first, we were skeptical about meeting with over 50 people in a single month, but once we did, we realized how much we needed it. In fact, the meetings with some mentors who didn’t seem to be a great fit on the surface turned out to be some of our most insightful, productive encounters. Seek out executives and other entrepreneurs in your space and set up as many meetings as you can. Even more importantly, never turn down a meeting. You never know what you stand to gain.
2. Grow Your Network
After about a week, we quickly realized how huge the Techstars network is. Because of this program, the doors of senior executives many large companies were opened for us. While not every entrepreneur might have such luck, it does go to show the importance of a strong network. The more people you know, the more potential introductions you can make and the more doors are open to you. Make an effort to ask for meetings and seek out mentors in your community.
3. Keep Testing and Learn Quickly
Learning is a powerful process for every startup. During Mentor Month, we asked a lot of questions and tested many ideas at once. This helped us quickly discard ideas that were inefficient or amiss and add new ideas and elements that we had never considered before.
Our team used this principle and had a pivotal realization around the signup process on our website. We thought users would want to see our videos before signing up, but after some rounds of testing, we found that people who signed up first watched the same amount of videos as those who signed up after. Consider implementing trial runs to test new ideas and quickly iterate on your product.
Marcio Souza is the CEO of Clutch Prep, a Miami, FL startup that makes the best video tutorials online. Clutch helps college students learn and excel with in-depth, textbook-specific videos. Clutch is a member of the Techstars Chicago startup accelerator 2014 class.