Does this mean accelerator programs end on demo day? Not quite. Amos Schwartzfarb, our Managing Director from Techstars Austin, remains fully engaged with Casabots (Austin ’16) even though the program ended several months back.
He recently introduced us to a great hire and keeps connecting us to customers. We have periodic mentor sessions with Techstars Ventures’ superstars, who invested in us. And last week, we were at Techstars’ annual conference, called FounderCon, which ended up being quite useful.
Now, let me tell you about FounderCon…
FounderCon started off with a touch of glamour. The Mayor of Cincinnati addressed us at the home stadium of the Cincinnati Reds, the first pro baseball team in the United States. Following that, Techstars companies that exited over the past year were recognized, providing ample motivation to the rest of us to work hard, grow a successful company and provide good returns to our investors.
Then, it was party time! Yes, every evening had at least 2 parties. I’m not normally the partying kind, but these parties were fantastic networking opportunities – you cultivated relationships with employees whom you could hire later and with investors who were attending FounderCon.
Perhaps most importantly, you got to spend quality time with fellow founders in your Techstars class. You have a special bond with these founders, probably because they experience the same day-to-day hustle and bustle. Spending time with them helps you cope better with the 18 hour workdays, constant learning and intense multitasking that’s typical for a startup.
FounderCon had three days of educational programming running in parallel to other events. These talks helped coach us for the next stage of our startups.
As many of you know, Techstars has more than a dozen accelerators around the globe now. Each of these programs has a Managing Director who is superbly connected within his or her city. FounderCon is a great place to meet Managing Directors of other Techstars programs and leverage their contact networks to build your sales funnel or investor funnel.
One of the days at FounderCon was called “BizDev Day” where we could meet bigger companies Techstars has relationships with. These included names like Target, Walmart, Kroger, Amazon, McDonald’s, Best Buy, Instacart, Microsoft, Intel, Google and many others!
One of the cool things about our product, a salad making robot, is that we can potentially place our robot in all these companies’ cafeterias. So, we got a great set of potential customers to talk with, who felt Techstars startups were top-class and were eager to explore collaborative opportunities.
During Foundercon, they had one afternoon allocated to “Investor Day” where startups had 30 minute sessions with investors. We met a bunch of cool investors who were superbly connected in our space. A bunch of our current investors were in Cincinnati for Investor Day too… I got a chance to pick their brains about our project.
We aren’t fundraising right now, but it always helps to meet future investors early and have them observe your work over a period of time – it lowers their investment risk.
It’s always a good sign when your existing investors say they like your progress and want to invest in your future funding rounds too – 3 investors I met during FounderCon said that! Which was cool.
Not many people think of Silicon Valley as slow moving, but regular work in San Jose seems slow compared to the intense 3 days of hustling at FounderCon!
This post was originally published on Casabots’ blog.