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June, 2012

3 Tips on How to Interpret Mentor Feedback at Your Startup

The first month of Excelerate is “mentor dating month”- a chance for startups to meet as many mentors as possible with the goal of forming meaningful long term relationships.

With only two weeks left in mentor dating month, we took time to catch up with some of the company founders and see how they’ve been dealing with all of the feedback they’ve received. We’ve already had hundreds of meetings take place inside the Excelerate office this month and expect still to have hundreds more by next Friday, so you can imagine the astronomical amount of advice shared in these past few weeks can get a bit overwhelming.

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Filed under: Excelerate Programming — Tags: — June 20, 2012

Startup America features 71 lbs

Today’s featured startup, 71lbs, creates shipping management tools are easy to use and cost effective. 

 

 

71lbs helps small businesses easily recover the billions left unclaimed in shipping ‘late’ delivery refunds. They have shipped thous
ands of packages, negotiated many shipping contracts, and also worked for the major parcel shipping carriers. After many years in the industry, they have become all too familiar with the differences of shipping services, their strengths and also their weaknesses. Read our interview with Founder, Jose Li to learn more. http://www.s.co/content/save-money-shipping-71lbscom

Filed under: Excelerate in the News — June 17, 2012

BabbaCo’s Jessica Kim: The Business Model Pivot

BabbaCo began as an innovative baby products company, but founder Jessica Kim discovered a more fitting business model. Check out her journey and how participating in Excelerate….accelerated her learning.

Filed under: Status Updates — Tags: , — June 14, 2012

Top 3 Tips from Excelerate Alumni

During the first week of Excelerate, the alumni gather to share their sage words of wisdom to new companies. This year’s wisdom sharing was exceptional, with about twelve alumni from the last two classes sharing their successes and shortcomings frankly. Here’s what they advised (and what you can incorporate in your startup regardless of where you are):

 

1) Stay on Top of Relationship Building- The first month of Excelerate, companies meet with over 100 mentors. Some are potential investors, while others are industry experts and all of them offer their expertise openly. Justin Massa from Food Genius was infamously organized when dealing with so many relationships.

“I kept mentor month self contained. No matter how late I had to stay, I wrote every thank you note to that day’s mentors. It was imperative not to fall behind.”

This strategy can be applied to any new relationship you make. If you’re planning on writing a follow up, take notes during the meeting and follow up as quickly as you can.

2) Tap Into Your Community- Almost all alumni wished they had gotten to know each other sooner. I can attest to this: my Excelerate Class (’10) became exponentially closer AFTER the program than during it. There is always work to be done, but being close to so many amazing people is a short term phenomenon. Take advantage! If you work in a coworking or shared office space, are you friends with everyone around you? Make sure to reach out and make connections with the people you see every day…sometimes if we are not mindful of this, these relationships are the ones that are ignored.

“Make friends sooner. Take lunch away from the laptop and talk to someone new every day!” – Ethan Austin, GiveForward

3) Do Your Research- Before mentor meetings, alumni all agreed that doing research on each mentor truly optimized the interaction. It may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it happens more frequently that one would imagine that entrepreneurs get caught up in work and forget to look up information on a contact before they meet. Avoid this by using Rapportive, or having a LinkedIn app on your phone.

“Mentors are exceptionally busy, accomplished people so assume they know nothing about you, but know everything you can about them.” -Seyi Fabode, Power2Switch

This summer’s teams are prepped and ready to take on whatever challenges this summer will bring. If you’re working on a startup, are you ready for Summer 2012?

Filed under: Excelerate Programming — Tags: — June 11, 2012

IDEO’s Secret to Quick User Feedback

When you put a lot of smart people in a room together, something awesome is bound to happen. I’d like to take this moment to mark one of many awesome occurrences at Excelerate Labs this summer: IDEO visit number 1.

Top designers from IDEO are here for the 2nd year to help our companies focus on what matters most: the users. It’s clear that we have to know how our users think, and, especially, why they think that way, but they aren’t just going to tell us. Even if they do tell us, they’re not always right.

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Filed under: Excelerate Programming — Tags: — June 7, 2012