Following Techstars #givefirst spirit, I decided to write a blog post that helps early stage startups and other less experienced entrepreneurs, like ourselves, when considering such programs. It’s been a week since ours started and our schedules are busier than ever, especially as we’re not the typical founding team, but family founders with a three-year old daughter. Sorry for stressing this; it is just something that is on our minds a lot lately.
For all those wanting to start this journey with Techstars (or maybe another well-known accelerator), for us it came down to:
- Demonstrating some early traction in our written application
- Re-working the application every time we applied (we actually had applied to YC earlier and to Techstars twice and interviewed each time, I think; so only got to 2 final Techstars interviews)
- Just being ourselves in the video and going with its first version (it wasn’t actually the very first one, but nearly): team and product (yes, we were on holiday… ;))
During our almost 20 interview rounds, including 2 onsite, I would simply recommend:
- Being relaxed and yourselves in the interviews (something we didn’t manage in all of them!)
We also found helpful:
- To research anyone to whom you will be talking to. To give you an example: Jens Lapinski really started his interview with the question he said in this talk he would start every interview with… “Who are your customers?” – Not preparing would have been a wasted opportunity.
- To make the most out of the interview – because that really is already a huge opportunity for you to grow – reflect on weaknesses and the feedback received.
- Prep with the questions for YC interviews that you find on the Internet.
We had agreed early on that we would be honest. But obviously there maybe topics you would rather like to skip. So in the beginning, that sometimes caught us in inconvenient corners, time spent searching for the right words, etc. So eventually, we decided to not give a f*** and just tell them whatever they asked in the most straightforward way we could, which actually led us to telling them at one point:
“We do not make any money on this and despite the traction we have on our other open-source software, we never made a penny with that either.”
“We don’t have a concrete sales strategy. We have a business model idea, but we are clueless when it comes to implementing it.”
When I think about that, they probably took us in, because we are a challenge.
I would like to follow-up on this one and share some of the questions they asked at the various stages, but you would find most of these on the Internet already anyways. Just do your homework before you go into any interview, Techstars or other, which is probably something that is generally helpful 🙂