April 9, 2012
I’m penning this blog from a coffee shop in the middle of the East Village. Our wireless isn’t set up yet, and our 750 sq. foot apartment is buried by suitcases.
It’s the end of my second week in the Women Innovate Mobile (WIM) accelerator. All I can think about is how the tornado of energy that swept us up and deposited us in the middle of the New York tech scene following Appguppy’s acceptance into WIM has just not let up. In spite of the frenetic pace of activity that surrounds us at any given time, I’ve managed to cull a few insights. In particular, the answer to the question I always got asked at entrepreneurial events now seems less elusive:
“What do you think the ecosystem really needs to help entrepreneurs succeed?”
That’s the question that every founder of an early stage startup is really trying to answer for herself as she navigates the tortuous path toward gaining funding. More networking events? Increased access to investors? Greater opportunity for publicity? They all used to be hypotheses.
Until Appguppy got accepted to the WIM, I couldn’t really answer that oft repeated question. But what these last two weeks have taught me is that entrepreneurial ecosystems should consider modeling certain aspects of incubators in order to launch successful startups.
Why? The hub of connections surrounding incubators certainly helps early stage startups receive valuable face time with mentors and subject matter experts. But here’s the distinguishing feature: the commitment to giving time and expertise is serious. Inside an incubator environment, mentors are the people who will assist participants in confronting and navigating tricky strategic decisions related to issues such as corporate governance, financial planning, product development and customer acquisition.
Access to expertise and experience helps entrepreneurs like me look at our companies from different angles, open ourselves up to constructive criticism and make smarter decisions at an earlier stage in development. The best part? Rather than just playing lip service to assisting entrepreneurs, mentors within an incubator respond to your emails, provide you with authentic accounts of their own mistakes and make valuable introductions to their own mentors.
The afternoon is drawing to a close and I’ve still got pages of feedback to go through from my own mentors here at WIM. I bid you adieu till my next missive. With any luck, the suitcases will be cleared and the wireless will be set up.
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