We’ve got 26 new founders from ten companies here in town for Techstars. By last Monday, they were all settled in. I’ve been really impressed by most of the founders and how they’ve approached their first week.
We started off on Monday with our kickoff session. Only one of our founders was a little late but made it for the second half – he had just flown in from Sweden. I can only imagine how tiring and simultaneously shocking attending such an electric session must have been for him that night. We all got to know each other a little bit, and I was pleased with the immediate interaction between the founders. There was a nervousness in the room at first, but it quickly dissipated and became pure energy.
It took them just a few minutes to figure out my style – and that they were required to laugh at my dry jokes. I knew they were smart.
We went late that night, talking with each other about some “rules” (there aren’t any, only rules of thumb) for startups, including some of my personal favorites. It was interesting to hear how some of the teams felt that they generally agreed with a given rule, but perhaps not in their case. Of course, they had to defend their position either way, and this sparked healthy debate in every case.
I tried to drive home a few points that night, making them crazy with phrases like “it’s your company”, and “you’re not here because of your idea.” We gave them an open license to work on anything, not just what they stated on their application. For some, this clearly sunk in. We’ve already had teams change their ideas significantly in the first week. This is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of progress. Startups morph.
On day two, we held an open house and many of our fantastic mentors stopped by to hang out for the night.
This too went fairly late into the evening, and many of the mentors ended up hanging out and talking about the projects that interested them most. Some were critical of what they heard. Most were just excited to get going. There was certainly a buzz. Many of the founders have done a great job of following up with the mentors already.
On Thursday, we had our first “regular session” called “Starting your startup”. I led a panel discussion that included Brad Feld, Andrew Currie, Jason Mendelson, and Greg Reinacker. We’ll podcast that session in full here on the Techstars blog shortly – I think you’ll enjoy it. We covered the topics most relevant to a startup – the idea, the market, the people, the product, money, and even failure.
At the end of our first week, the founders are still all very pumped up. A few times, I’ve have to send some of them home to sleep around 7am – it seems like they don’t realize it’s so late/early. One team is routinely skipping all sleep (against my advice, of course). A couple of our startups are nearly ready to start accepting small alpha user bases already. It will be exciting to see what feedback they get.
I expect things to hit more of a routine this week. But then again, nothing about a startup is ever routine, is it?