By Angelo Casanas
Having gone through the accelerator journey themselves, three seasoned entrepreneurs from three Canadian startups offered the new round of JOLT participants a taste of what to expect for the next 16 weeks. From their experiences with JOLT, TechStars and Y Combinator, here are a few golden nuggets that were shared during the panel discussion.
On reasons why they joined an accelerator
According to Lindsey Goodchild, co-founder and CEO of Greengage Mobile., they were already halfway through developing their company’s platform when they decided to join an accelerator. Their company at that time was already a MaRS client and was receiving advisory services from the information technology, communications and entertainment (ICE) practice. Applying for JOLT was the next logical step.
For others, joining an accelerator was an opportunity to view their businesses through a wider lens in a life that can be consuming and where perspectives can get myopic.
What to take advantage of in the program
Winston Mok, co-founder and CEO of Simply Good Technologies Inc., shared his thoughts on finding the right mentor and getting advice during his time at TechStars.
“Its like going on a date,” he said. You have to find the right chemistry [with the mentor] and find out if time spent with that person will be of any value.
Winston also warned the entrepreneurs that they would be inundated with advice—a lot of it—and that it would pull them from one direction to the other. He advised the CEOs to take control of the reins and to choose the direction that fits best with their companies.
About the pitch
Having brought up the subject of pitching, Devon Galloway, co-founder and chief operating officer of Vidyard and an alumnus of Y Combinator, said that entrepreneurs should be comfortable talking about their businesses. In fact, as an entrepreneur, you should never stop pitching your company, he exclaimed.
However, as each day passes entrepreneurs learn new things and one starts to realize how their pitch on Day 1 differed from their pitch on Day 100. Pitching is an opportunity to share a story and entrepreneurs should always tell a compelling one.
Some parting words
In the end, all three entrepreneurs agreed on one recurring theme: hard work. It may have only been Day 1, but the JOLTees were forewarned of the hard work that lies ahead. Hard work is to be expected and some mentors use it as currency that earns companies their time with them.
One metric that Devon used was growing 10% each day, whether that be in users or in revenue. While Lindsey spoke of the doors that opened to opportunities during JOLT, she preached about the work ethic required to get to those doors. Winston also chimed in, stating that accelerator programs are but a hollow shell and that hard work should fill it.
“Hard work is what got you here,” proclaimed Winston, and hard work is what these JOLTees will need for the next 16 weeks.