Sarah Ellenbogen shares her experience going through Techstars Farm to Fork program with her company Digiphy.
Q: What value did you get out of the Farm to Fork Program?
A: Techstars Farm to Fork was an incredible experience personally and professionally. I developed many daily and weekly habits that remain part of my routine and management style, like monthly reporting best practices to investors and weekly team OKR reporting and alignment. Beyond this, I was surprised by the incredible network that the Managing Directors of Farm to Fork bring, and how valuable the mentors and connections I made have been to our business growth and development to this day.
Q: How did the Farm to Fork program change you as a CEO or change your business?
A: A huge part of being an entrepreneur is taking risks, some calculated and some impulsive. Techstars Farm to Fork helped me assess each risk and understand that not all are going to be successful, and that’s okay. Failure is okay. It’s a way to quickly determine what could work and what won’t.
The program team helped me break down these risks and gave me techniques to evaluate which risks I should take, which ones I should delay or not engage at all. They helped me build a network of advisors, mentors, cohort companies, and friends that I can go to for advice to help talk through risks, challenges, and opportunities and the beauty of seeking feedback before taking action.
Q: What stage was your company at when you joined the program?
A: We were raising our first main round of Pre Seed funding and building our product. It was myself and two of my cofounders, the three of us were the team! Each of us is responsible for a line of business: sales/partnerships, investor relations/fundraising, business development, and product/development.
When we left program, we were in the process of closing our $2.5M Pre Seed round, and releasing our product. It was a major milestone moment and we wouldn’t have been able to do either without the help of Brett, Sarah, and team.
Q: How was being part of an in-person program impactful to you?
A: While Mentor Madness was mad, it helped refine our elevator pitch and ensure we could answer any question that was asked of us in a short and concise way. This is invaluable experience for investor pitches and conversations. We walked away with some INCREDIBLE mentors and advisors that we still communicate with regularly.
Additionally, the programming was fantastic. From the financial modeling classes, to the speakers that came in to share their founder stories, to the sessions with cohort members working on similar tasks, we benefited immensely from each and every session and conversation.
Q: What was it like working with your lead mentors and what did you learn from them?
A: We had a diverse group of lead mentors from product, venture, and GTM/sales. This was purposeful in our selection as we wanted a group that could help us across a number of different areas. We have monthly meetings with our mentors and continue to rely on them for guidance and support as we investigate new channel partnerships, go to market strategies, and product challenges. Each of our mentors brought a breadth of knowledge and expertise that we would never have gotten elsewhere.
Q: How have you seen the impacts of Techstars even after the program has ended?
A: We were able to successfully close our round thanks to our participation in the program. The referrals and support of the leadership team at Farm to Fork has been incredible. Beyond investment, we continue to implement the operational rigor they taught us in our weekly team meetings and investor updates which has been beneficial ensuring stakeholder alignment and satisfaction.
Q: What advice would you give someone considering applying to the Farm to Fork program?
A: Don’t think about the equity investment as being high. It is WELL worth it! We debated this, like many people do, and I can honestly say we’re the ones that got the good deal. Techstars Farm to Fork is a unique group of people. They are food tech, business and VC leaders. As former founders or start up execs, they have seen it all and understand the challenges you’re going through or will soon experience. They’re able to advise you, or connect you with someone that can support you in whatever your challenges are. Most importantly, they’re a support network, along with your cohorts, for LIFE.
Sarah and her team were part of the 2022 Techstars Farm to Fork class. More information about Digiphy can be found here.