September 9, 2014
The DreamIt Ventures launch event to officially announce the new accelerator class was held last week, and I had the chance to visit their co-working space in Philly when it was time for the teams to get to work. The space had been decorated and the mentors prepared to dispense advice to the founders. From the framed “Hustle” poster and the large “Innovate” block letters plastered on the wall, to the tables already covered with computers, cords, food and coffee – this space resembled your typical accelerator. Or at least, that was my initial impression.
Walking into the spacious 2nd floor space of the building, I was instantly reminded of other accelerators I had covered as well as my part time job working at StartFast in Syracuse over the summer. The faces of young CEOs who masked some of their nervousness with looks of excitement were so similar to the ones I had seen in the past as they eagerly asked their questions: Would their company be funded by the end of the program? How many teams had successfully exited in previous years?
Even behind the colorful green, blue and white walls and conference rooms with names like “Baltimore,” “Tel Aviv” and “Philly,” there was something different about this accelerator and how it was run. When we previewed the event, we learned that 12 teams were selected from both the United States and Israel, and the mentors and managing directors brought extensive experience, having also exited successful companies in the past. The chosen teams were more than lucky; this would definitely be the experience of a lifetime.
Additionally, there were some very key lessons to take away from the first day at DreamIt Ventures Philly. As the managing directors and mentors gave their feedback and answered questions, here are some of the pointers they gave:
- Fail Fast: The only way to really reach success is to fail faster. As entrepreneurs, I think a number of people focus on making the “perfect” product when it’s better to test it out in the market, get feedback, and make changes and/or pivot.
- Don’t Believe all of the Hype About Yourself: It’s awesome when your company gets a write-up on a tech website (let’s say Tech Cocktail), but don’t get too excited about the media or press. The most successful entrepreneurs will acknowledge that they are doing well, but will also know that they still have a long way to go.
- Get Stuff Done: Don’t linger too long on programming or reminiscing about your latest news appearance (see above)…. just keep it moving.
- Dream Big: You probably know that saying, “reach for the moon because even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” The more you dream, the better the chances of reaching your goal will be. If you’re only thinking local, maybe it’s time to think national (or dare I say global).
- Ask For Help: Mentors/ Advisors are there for a reason – don’t be afraid to ask for help. I mean, they have done this before… and most times more than once.
Even companies who aren’t in accelerators can use this advice. It doesn’t just apply to three-month programs, but can apply to your entire journey as an entrepreneur.
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