What We learned At Techstar’s Startup Next Pre-accelerator Mumbai?

I am Dushyant, Entrepreneur, sharing my insights I gained at Techstar’s Startup Next Mumbai program 2015.

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FROM THE IDEA TO MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT (MVP)

My Startup Next journey started with my application at Startup Next Mumbai Fall 2015 Program via F6S website (https://www.f6s.com/, portal dedicated for startup) on 15 Oct 2015.

On 17th Oct 2015, I felt serendipitous in receiving “Welcome Message” from Startup Next.

“Congratulations on being accepted in the Fall 2015 program! We are very excited to have you in the program. It will be fun and a great learning experience for all. “

In the subsequent emails I got program details, schedules, mentors and organizers’ intro.

Highlights of the Next 6 Week Schedule:

  • Day 0: Intro Session & Orientation
  • Day 1: Session on Customer Development – Manish Shah and Gaurav Roy of BigDecisions.com
  • Day 2: Session on Pitching – Gaurav Sachdeva, JSW Ventures
  • Day 3: Session on Market Sizing – Vikas Verma
  • Day 4: Session on Funding – Sushanto Mitra, LeadAngels.in
  • Day 5: Session on Product/Market Fit – Archana Awasthi, Couch Tomato
  • Day6: Demo Day will be a gathering of handpicked investors, angels, accelerators and incubators. This is where you will showcase all you have learned in the previous sessions and network with the industry players.

Ours was smart and cautiously selected cohort chosen out of 127 applications from all over India.

Our cohort included top notch entrepreneurs and mentors such as Ani Gupta ( Lead Startup Next Mumbai ), Monaaz Mistry (Operations Head Lead Angels), Sushanto Mitra (Founder Lead Angels), Ash Goenka (Founder Bombay Connect), Venky Hariharan (Open Innovation Network), Tapan Pati (Legal Head Johnson & Johnson), Yogesh Upadhyaya (Entrepreneur), Keshav Kaul (Entrepreneur), Mayank Lhila ( Entrepreneur) and many more.

Our journey was like a roller coaster ride from the start onwards as we had to travel back and forth between Indore and Mumbai on every weekend for 6 weeks and yield progress altogether.

Putting the learning curve at Startup Next to an analogy to my education at University of Cambridge (UK), where we needed to excel every day and incorporate new learning in fast manner.

JUGGLING WITH OTHER COMPETITIONS:

I do not know what was happening to us, it felt like good luck was raining all over because in the row we got through three other renowned Business Plan (B-Plan) competitions of prestigious Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay, Kharagpur and Indore. We got selected into IIT-K Empersaio 2015 out of 1600 startup applications, IIT – B Eureka 2015 out of 8000 startup applications, and IIT – I Engenda 2.0 out of 100 startup applications.

Hence, we were going through intense pressure to perform several mentoring sessions at IIT’s and Startup next since they were going on parallel tracks.  Pressure to yield progress was mounting on weekly basis to qualify from semi-finalists round to finalists round, which we did achieve eventually.

Well, coming back to Startup Next Learning Curve

Day 0 was on introduction and networking session. It was sort of professional networking I used to do in my Leeds University and later at Cambridge University days.

It covered team intros; mentors profile briefings, some snacks in between and finally sharing program overview and expectations.

Overall, it was a great experience to mingle with startup crowd of successful entrepreneurs and fellow participating teams.

Schedule Outline for every session was like:

  • Speaker session on Weekly topic
  • Team pitches (60 sec elevator pitches) followed by a 3 min Q&A
  • Team/Mentor Breakouts 1:1 mentoring sessions
  • Session Recap, Team updates and expectations for the next session

The program was scheduled at the Bombay Connect Office at Bandra West, Mumbai on every Saturday between 10am – 1 pm.

Day 1 was all about Customer Development lecture and Pitching. We read articles, blogs and other materials before coming to session.

Customer development is such an important part of the startup I realized in this class. In essence, these classes were organized into 6 crucial topics with ongoing mentoring and pitching.

Dushyant Sethiya and pallav sethiya

Contents covered were Customer Development Cycle, Value Proposition Canvas, Customer development interviews etc.

Day 2 was solely on Pitching. Here I realized that pitching was the most important part of the startup. If you cannot explain your idea in 1 min then it is of no use.

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Other learning were what to include in pitches, how to pitch in 30 secs, 60 secs and 3 mins, storytelling and most importantly Body Language

Day 3 was based on Market Sizing, this was something I never understood and had trouble with calculating for Business plan competitions.

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I learned valuable concepts such as Bottom up approach, Top down approach, TOM (Total Addressable Market), SAM (Serviceable Available Market), SOM (Serviceable Obtainable Market) etc.

Day 4 covered funding and highlighted various types of funding option for startups, term sheet, how to raise capital and how much equity to give.

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Topics:  VC (Venture Capital), Angel Funding, Banking Loans, Bootstrapping, Term sheet etc.

In every session, I felt like this is the answer I was looking for.

Day 5 was focused on Product/Market Fit. This is the area where most startup struggle and why they fail in first three years of their business.

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By this time, I started gaining confidence in our startup  because of countering challenging questions and looking for viable answers.

Concepts covered were Illusions of Product/Market fit, Product Market Fit Plan, Leading Indicator Survey, Leading Indicator Engagement, Retention Curve and Trifecta.

Day 7 was the Demo Day, I can never forget that day in my life as we showed progress in ourselves and in our venture after going through six weeks of rigorous mentoring.

It was like a graduation day for us; we prepared to present ourselves in front of investors and were eager to taste the Startup Investment Culture.

Our Venue was Regus Business Park Mumbai where everyone gathered for the Demo Day.  We gave our pitch after 3 pitches and in the end we were praised by our mentors too! The words were:

“You guys are amazing; you have really improved a lot as you were really a mess when you came to this program” and the sound of claps filled the room.”

Overall, it was an amazing experience going through Startup Next Pre Accelerator Program and I am grateful to the program for giving us a chance to be part of the thriving startup ecosystem.

Co-founders:

Dushyant Sethiya, Co-Founder at Distribute11. He is a ‘Post Graduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship’ from University of Cambridge, UK and completed his Masters from University of Leeds, UK. He has also done his Engineering from India.

Pallav Sethiya, Co-Founder at Distribute11. He is a Computer Science Engineer and passionate about Android apps, Ecommerce management, Creative graphic designing and SEO.

About Distribute11

Distribute11 is a traffic engine which helps brands to go viral by matching them with appropriate influencer. It is widely renowned for its expertise in the areas of social media influencers’ network marketing. 

We work with companies and startups with small budget to make their brands successful in the digital world.

We are a team of creators, thinkers, and innovators helping brands to learn more, do more and achieve more thus leading a better social media reach.

About Startup Next 

Startup Next, a Techstars program, is the #1 startup pre-acceleration program in the world

They prepare startups for accelerators and seed investment, by providing high quality mentorship and leveraging our global network of investors, mentors and founders.

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