Every startup accelerator program has a theme. All accelerators introduce companies to mentors. Many focus on raising capital, teaching companies how to pitch, how to prepare for due diligence and introducing them to investors. Other accelerators focus on a specific vertical (e.g. energy, healthcare) or technology (e.g. cloud, Kinect). StartFast's theme is, "Build a great company."Our thesis is that if you build a great company, investment will be attracted and success will result. A great company is built on the foundation of a great team of entrepreneurs. Each person is born with a certain amount of innate talent, but the traits, skills, habits, thought forms and capabilities of great entrepreneurs can be acquired. Some can be taught, while other capabilities are acquired through experience, hard work and repetition. Our mentors are people to emulate. Our Enterpreneurs in Residence (EIRs) and our Managing Directors (MDs) train and guide founders along a rather steep learning curve. Time is very short (only 3 months in the program), but much can be accomplished in this time with an intensity of focus.The process begins with retraining - pointing out blind spots, cognitive errors and bad habits. We give a lot of tasks (e.g. growth hacking experiments) to begin building good habits and thought forms from the ground up. We are here to instill a bias toward data over opinion, a bias for experimentation over analysis paralysis, a bias for transparency and truth over cleverness and glibness. The process is not easy and has no guarantee of success. But our intention is that each founder and each team, through much experimentation, will acquire a methodology for evidence-based decision-making. Armed with this methodology, each team will develop confidence and a bias toward action (doing more faster). Through repetition and experience, discernment and understanding blossom. And once the entrepreneur learns to pass their understanding on to others, the beginnings of leadership have been forged.
In every area of human endeavor, the winners are not just those with innate talent. Hard work is the perennial differentiator. When two companies compete teamwork wins out over individual greatness. We work closely with our founders, introduce them to world-class mentors to give them examples of great entrepreneurs to emulate. Mentors also point out flaws in business models, product plans and go-to-market strategies. Certainly, this input can save founders a lot of time, keeping them from going down blind alleys. But the larger goal is always to teach the founders how to think - how to identify issues and resolve them quickly. How to discern what to work hard at - picking the right tasks in the right order. How to work together as a team.We've embarked upon this journey once again. The size of investment rounds and eventual exits may be how we keep score, but our means of getting there matter just as much to us. Our mission, to build great companies.