What a great first week! It was a short one due to the Memorial Day holiday. Tuesday was “move in day” and thanks to New World Ventures, the companies got to enjoy a Cubs victory at the Friendly Confines (in a very nice private box, I might add…) after they got settled. BONUS: the Cubs won!
Wednesday we started “hitting the books” and brought in the Excelerate alums from past years to share their wisdom on how to maximize the value of the experience. There were a few consistent themes – build relationships, be efficient with your time and focus the mentors on the “big problems” that you are dealing with. I hope to do another post expanding on these issues… That afternoon Joe Dwyer, an entrepreneur and a venture partner at OCA Ventures, came in to talk about the process of ideation and told all the teams that “Your baby is ugly – get over it!” Once you recognize that your business model is flawed, it opens you up to improving it and you become less emotionally attached to a particular solution as you search for the right solution. More entrepreneurs should realize that they have ugly babies… Wednesday evening was the first interaction with the mentors at the mentor open house. Some libations and munchies and everyone was in a good mood and getting to know each other.
Thursday morning we let the companies know that they would be doing short, two minute pitches for the mentors at that evening’s event and so there was a fair amount of angst as everyone was scrambling to get prepared. The pitches went extremely well with many of the mentors commenting on how solid the class of 2012 seems. It was great to see them excel already and then with the stressful part over, start engaging the mentors and building relationships.
Friday kicked off with IDEO coming in and doing a two hour presentation on user centered design and their process. In spite of the lack of sleep, everyone was bright-eyed and attentive as they soaked it all up. IDEO will be mentoring again as we build on last years program with them. Around 5:00 there was beer and pizza out for happy hour at 1871, the companies were so focused that they ran over briefly, but were all back at their desks shortly following up with mentors and planning for the big week to come.