What’s it like to go through a Techstars program? The program can change your life – but it’s not always pretty.
This is the next post in our blog series, The Techstars Experience, with some thoughts from Dom Davis, Co-Founder and CTO of Rainbird, an artificial intelligence platform that automates knowledge-work by unlocking internal expertise and amplifying that value across an organization. Dom and his co-founders completed the Techstars London 2014 Winter program.
This installment of The Techstars Experience is a bit different. Dom blogged (nearly) every day of his 100 days in program. He talks very candidly not only about the program itself — but the lack of sleep, the food, the exhaustion, the grueling commute, and the demands on his family (his very pregnant wife and a three year old child).
Dom compiled these posts into an ebook called, “100 Days of Techstars.” He gives the blow by blow in personal diary style with a blunt voice and a British twist. It’s a good read…
Check out a few excerpts below and as Dom puts it, “Follow my descent into insanity and find out what it is to be at Techstars for 100 days.”
[re: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint]
Mentor meetings in the morning, [extremely] long lunch with a very good friend of mine and colleague who was able to offer some very interesting advice and some possible introductions, back to the office to do a couple of hours work, out by 19:00 with the intention of going home and going pretty much straight to bed.
Didn’t quite manage that as Chris and I started talking about some issues that had been uncovered during the day and then started throwing around some ideas to fix these issues. Next thing you know the notepads are out and diagrams are being drawn. OK, so it’s not exactly high intensity work – and we did range over a number of topics while also cooking and eating dinner – but we still utterly failed in the task of go home, switch off, go to sleep.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the mentality of working every available hour and pushing yourself as hard as you can. That’s great, but you also have to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There are no prizes for being the first to collapse in a crumpled heap before the finish line is even in sight.
[re: The Techstars Clock of Doom]
The Techstars Clock of Doom rolled over to the 70’s today, which is just terrifying. We’re in week 4. We’ve been here 23 days and it just seems that we’re going to get catapulted out the other side of this process way too fast because in some respects it still only feels like we’ve been there a few days.
It’s odd. The ever present Techstars Clock of Doom which has, until now, been instilling a sense of urgency before demo day is now tinged with sadness. Every second it ticks is another second closer to the end. And that sucks. Royally.
[re: Mentorship & Office Hours]
Techstars set up a number of what they call “Office Hours”. Basically a period of time where useful people will be in the office and you can book a quick meeting with them. One of these was with Tony Blank from context.io. I mentioned to Tony that I could do with speaking to someone who knew more about graph databases than I did. Tony pointed me at the CEO of orchestrate.io because they know about databases. The CEO introduced me to their CTO and lead technical guy, and before I know it I’ve got them coming to visit to talk to me.
In the space of a week I’ve gone from clueless to having access to a huge wealth of information on how our approach is going to work, even at scale. This kind of useful introduction, and willingness to help and provide information goes on all the time which is one of the key things that makes this programme so useful for me.
[re: Burden on the family]
Before going to Techstars I researched the hell out of it. One thing that is made abundantly clear is that if you have a family or partner, they are going to suffer. With that in mind I set expectations with my wife to be low. Very low. Like 5 minute video call once a day and back home every other weekend at best low. Unsurprisingly this caused an argument, but not a major one. I was the first to admit I was being horribly selfish, and the hoped for outcome benefits the entire family hugely. We both understand that.
So my heavily pregnant wife is effectively a single mum for 3 months with flying visits from me for 48 hours at a time every two weeks or so. Not insurmountable, many wives have endured that, but not exactly easy either. It seems this departure was the breaking point….
I now get to throw myself into work with no time to think about anything else. My wife has to keep the house and family together for my return. All I can say is that if your partner bears up as well as mine you’re onto a keeper there.
To get the full story of this founder’s Techstars Experience, download Dom’s full ebook here.
Want to apply to Techstars? Check out our Program Schedule.