An Inside Look at the Techstars Experience

Since joining the Techstars worldwide network a few weeks ago, there are four things that have made the strongest impression on me so far.

From developing deep connections with other founders, finding unity and inspiration from other companies, and the immense amount of knowledge being taught, here are my top takeaways from the first two weeks.   

The Brilliant Minds

Techstars is a network of truly amazing people. The way that the program is structured allows for the development of deep connections between founders, team members and associates. We kicked the program off with a weekend retreat, involving plenty of intense conversations and trust building exercises.

As a result, when I walked into the office on Monday for the first working week, I felt that everyone I saw there was an old-time friend.

The Symbiosis

The symbiosis between different teams and the individual CEOs is also impressive. It feels that we are all in the same boat, experiencing the same highs and lows. Seeing that I am not alone in experiencing the struggle of starting a business feels strangely empowering. It gives me the reassurance I need to push through the hardship of working 14-hour days, six days a week.

The Knowledge Exchange

Deep Dives

The first week of the program begins with intense Deep Dive sessions, during which all founders dissect their companies in one-on-one meetings with Max Kelly, the Managing Director of the Techstars London Accelerator. The entire process is extremely beneficial for one main reason: As a founder, you are convinced you know your business inside out.

In the Deep Dive sessions, Max not only put a light on aspects of my company I hadn’t seen, he put things in a different perspective.

It felt a bit like what I imagine the first person to walk on the Moon felt when they were seeing the Earth from its surface – looking so familiar, yet so different.

It was impressive to see how quickly he came up with solutions to the problems I had spent weeks agonizing over.

Mentor Madness

The second week of the program was dominated by Mentor Madness. As a CEO, I had to meet with ten mentors each day for 20-minute conversations. Part speed-dating, part TED talk, I had to pitch my company, ask advice, and answer questions, all while being inspiring enough so as to engage my mentor dates with my company.

It was very useful for me as it forced me to experiment with the ways I pitch my business. Communication is super important for every startup, but especially so for a deep-tech company like Lifebit.

Making our messages digestible for people who are not scientifically-minded was a great skill for me to learn.

The Global Community

The Techstars London 2017 class consists of 19 nationalities. The combination of people coming from so many different backgrounds and cultures is fascinating.

For me, being part of the Techstars worldwide network has already opened doors to entrepreneurs, industry analysts, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporate partners from all over the world.

What impressed me the most was how individuals, who have had such distinct experiences, could come together and have such an aligned mindset. Everyone at Techstars shares the same mission – we all want to make a positive impact on the world, each in our individual way.

This gives me such strong hope about the future of the world. If a diverse group of people comes together to solve so many of the world’s problems great things are bound to come out of it!

Parting Thoughts

To wrap up my experience so far, if someone asks me about the program, I wouldn’t define it as an accelerator. I would say that Techstars is an experience. I believe it is one of the greatest experiences a startup can have in its early days. I couldn’t be more excited about the coming two months.

Each business in the class operates in a different industry, yet we are sharing the same experiences, all while building an amazingly strong community, synergy and symbiosis.

My background in biology makes me think of startups as living organisms. Like any other living organism, startups experience problems on a regular basis. What sets Techstars apart is the fact that we all work so closely together, that we are bound to share our biggest challenges, we are encouraged to talk about highs and lows, about what keeps us up at night.

If one of us comes forward with a problem, the group gets involved in helping them overcome it. Sharing our experiences makes us feel less alone and gives us the confidence to run our businesses at full speed.

Read more about joining an accelerator at TechCo

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Written by:
Dr. Maria Chatzou holds a PhD in Biomedicine, MSc in Bioinformatics and BSc in Computer Science and Biomedical Informatics. She is a biotech innovator and a proud geek, expert in bioinformatics, medical informatics and high performance computing (HPC). She is also a passionate entrepreneur. She has already founded two companies, Innovation Forum Barcelona and the Techstars-backed Lifebit.
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