Startup Sesame is a one-of-a-kind program that connects European founders to European event organizers, bringing startups to amazing events throughout the year. While the exposure to events is great on its own, what’s even better is the network, on-site intros and especially the team behind it: Ben Costantin and his crew (@startupsesame).
Why Startup Sesame?
As a startup, you usually cannot afford to go to many conferences; however, a well-planned event can give you media exposure, great connections, sales leads, new ideas and generally provides you with learning opportunities along the value creation chain of your startup (from customer experience, networking, to closing a deal). It also gives you a great “reason for reaching out”. Yet, filtering out tons of events and which to attend, researching and planning the event in advance, and then performing on site and catching up with everything afterwards is a lot of work. Having a partner like Startup Sesame that helps you navigate that jungle, getting in touch with people on site, and last but not least with the financial costs, is invaluable. Even more, Startup Sesame not only sponsors most event tickets, they also provide additional opportunities to make use of the occasion like e.g. competing in the pitching competition, having a booth.
Then during the weekend, you get educated about the current startup ecosystem, the events, trends and most importantly the opportunity to pitch and get feedback on your pitch.
This weekend allows the Sesame team and the startup organizers to get to know you and your business. This way, they can learn how to best help you and make unique recommendations on events and competitions to apply to. It also gives you the opportunity to understand what VCs and event organizers are looking for in startup competitions and on-stage talks, which events make sense for you, and how to go about these opportunities to really make use of them for the business. It also helps you refine your pitch.
After the weekend, you receive additional feedback and mentoring and then, during the following year you are presented (actively!) with event opportunities that match your startup and personality. Also, they assign #rockstar #mentors to you that help you make the most out of your event attention on site.
Every year is organized differently. In our 2018 cohorte the setting was special: We were spending the time all together in shared rooms in a youth hostel at the Valencian beach. Food and coffee was a bit restricted, so we all needed to share and pay attention to each other’s needs. This brought the cohorte closer together than I think would usually have been the case (also great for the more introvert people… :D).
Who is Ben?
Ben is the founder and leader of Startup Sesame. Ben’s superpower is connecting people, or rather the right people; people who can benefit from being connected. Ben has a big heart, is very kind, and I believe he truly enjoys helping founders — and this really is what shapes the spirit of Startup Sesame. I am grateful to be part of the Startup Sesame Family (#proudsesamer).
Is it worthwhile?
For ObjectBox the answer is Yes. Once the next applications open I can only encourage you to apply. Just one word of warning: They give you tons of opportunities and in all likelihood, you can’t handle them all. E.g.: We needed to be very selective due to time constraints and it was/is hard to see many great opportunities pass by unused. However, you can check out what the #proudsesamer of 2018 have achieved in the last months on @startupsesame — it’s impressive and entertaining. 😊
These are the kind of events that you can attend as part of Startup Sesame. It was a great experience and lots of fun, but also added great value to our fundraising.
Or, if you are at dmexco 2018 or SaaStock 2018, you can join my talk on Open Source and Edge Computing. We can meet up there too 🙂
If you’re heart is in coding, you will love working with us. Then there are just a few additional things we are looking for:
“Equivalent to” 7 years+ professional software development experience
Professional C++ skills
Deep experience with network programming and OOP
Professional iOS and Swift project experience is a plus
Deep CoreData knowledge is a plus
Experience with Node.js is a plus
If you’re still reading, chances are you are the right person to join us in some way. Then, please send us an E-Mail (join[at]objectbox.io) and let’s have a chat. We’re very open for all kinds of collaboration.
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)
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.
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 🙂
That means we just moved to London, as a family, in less than 4 weeks and have just incorporated ObjectBox Ltd. Even if we just started, it’s already great to see so many cool teams going through their own startup journeys and getting insights and feedback from so many different angles.
Techstars is all about #givefirst and we could feel that within the program right from the start. Just one tiny thing that we as a family founder with a 3-year old daughter really appreciated:
and immediately took up to get our daughter, Smilla, educated on the latest insights of pitch trainings:
While it’s really awesome to be here, there is also just a tiny bit of pressure there:
Just wanted to share bits of this great first week, more coming throughout the next…92 days!