Week One of the StartFast Accelerator 2014 Program was a Success

This week, roughly 20 entrepreneurs gathered from around the world to enter the StartFast Accelerator program in Syracuse, New York. The three-month program is intended to be intense, challenging, and productive. The goal is to gain in three months what would normally take one year.

When you first walk into the office space, engulfed by windows and sunshine, you look up to see very tall ceilings which gives you plenty of room and space to breathe and think.  The six lucky companies who have been given the privilege to be here are just a few feet away from each other and are constantly surrounded and given crucial assistance by local university interns and mentors with a variety of skill sets.  StartFast Venture Accelerator Design Star Tristan Toye thinks this year's group of startups are some of the most interesting he has worked with. "These companies have their MVPs nailed and will be working hard this summer to scale fast.  From what I've seen so far in such a short time, I have no doubts in my mind that they will surpass everyone's expectations."

Every morning, managing director Chuck Stormon, gives the companies a daily speech as well as any feedback, assignments, and guidance. He also gives the companies 30- to 60-minute private sessions to discuss lean startup methods, business models, user acquisition strategies, monetization techniques, and any other vital pieces of startup gold.  After having a LeanCanvas meeting with Stormon on the first day of the program, Founder & CEO of Sooligan, Natasia Malaihollo, quickly realized that the problem her team is solving is too broad and that they need to narrow down their initial target market.  ”We started to conduct experiments in the community to help us identify our initial market. Overall, I would say the first week is an indication that we are most likely going to modify the app significantly this summer through various iterations."

From my perspective, the first week was very fast-paced, full of immediate immersion into the typical startup culture you would find at a co-working space or other top-tier accelerator. I was welcomed by staff, other startups, and interns who jumped right in to help us with our goals for the summer, whether it be building a prototype for our new web version, organizing the delegation of tasks and priorities, helping with our marketing strategy and implementing it, or by simply taking detailed notes during private sessions to diminish the pressure and allow us to be more attentive. Cornell University student and intern Jenna Quindica thinks this is going to be an amazing summer. "I see a lot of potential in these startups, and the mentors have really insightful things to say about the concepts we're working on."

Influential mentors will be coming in to talk to each company weekly and providing invaluable advice and feedback.  So far, the feedback our startup has received from everyone has been invaluable, it has only been the first week, but it feels as though a lot more than a week's worth of progress has been made. With the way things are looking, we will not only reach our goals but surpass them, and I'm sure the other startups feel the same way. Looking forward to more acceleration in the coming months!