Actually it was two big punches. And my god, this getting-punched-thing really hurts! So what happened there?
At the beginning of 2013 it dawned on us that we have a big number of questions that we struggled to answer on our own. Yes, we were building our own expert network, but it still lacked in so many areas and we really needed professional support.
That was when we realized we weren’t the only ones with that problem and we came across this thing called Startup Accelerator. Basically, you get a bit of money, a ton of perks, intense mentoring and you’re thrown into an enormous network of Founders, CEO’s and Experts on all levels. A program like this seriously boosts your Startup.
Great stuff, where do I sign?
Turns out you have to get in line with over 500 other companies – Out of which only ten would be chosen. So we got in line. We applied to the two largest Accelerator programs in Europe, StartupBootcamp and Rockstart, both of them based in Amsterdam.
We worked through the nights to finish our applications and spent long evenings shooting – editing – realizing it’s crap – reshooting the Team Video. Times got pretty exciting, when we realized we were invited, both to StartupBootcamp and Rockstart. What followed were more preparations for the Skype-calls, discussions about the go’s and no-go’s of pitching and figuring out how to describe our product in 60 seconds [turns out it’s bloody difficult]. Altogether we went trough 5 Skype-conversations with the CEO’s and founders of Rockstart and SBootcamp. Those days were marked by excitement when things turned out good, sadness when things went wrong and unsure-ness when we didn’t know how the talk went at all. Boy, there was tension in the air.
And then – We made it! Boom! We actually made it into the final rounds of both Rockstart and StartupBootcamp. All of a sudden our Email-inboxed were flooded with schedules, maps, congratulations, more schedules and people telling us that we were amongst the top 3 percent of all Startups that applied, “The Best of the Best” as StartupBootcamp themselves put it.
So we drove to Amsterdam, energized as shit! We went there twice in two weeks to present our Team, Idea and Company to almost 200 mentors, CEO’s and other seemingly important people. We were in crazy-pitching mode. Simon took the lead and I have to say he did an incredible job! We pitched 10 times for 15 Minutes at Rockstart and probably 20 times for even longer at Startupbootcamp. That didn’t include the inofficial pitches to people you meet
on the toilet in the elevator plus the obvious networking on the sidelines. The talks were fast and vigoros – Some people wanted to invest in us straight away, others seemingly wanted to tell us that we will never succeed. But for the first time we got out in front of a huge, seriously experienced audience, shared our vision and were applauded for it! It was exhilarating. I already saw us moving to Amsterdam very soon.
And then… failure.
The Rockstart call came first. “I’m calling with bad news, guys!” – It was Don, one of the Rockstart Co-Founders. Soon the StartupBootcamp selection days followed. And again – the magic didn’t happen. We were dismissed on stage.
It got cold. It took a while for me to get there. I think I actually stayed in denial for some time. How did this happen? We were already here? All these people wanted to help us. They were so excited about our idea. All these incredible talks, all these people who liked us. We got so much great feedback… What the fuck?!
We talked a lot about it and we eventually figured out reasons why they most probably didn’t choose us. It’s always hard to tell the true reason why somebody dumps you on the finishing line, but as of now we think we have a good sense of what was missing. And on the other hand – it is well possible that the program wouldn’t have been such an enormous benefit for us after all. The price is still 8 % of your company and that is a lot!
So there we are. “Dropped the baton as it is handed on to us” [a little Steve Jobs quote never hurts]. We now know what it’s like to have tasted the bitter taste of denial, failure and refusal. So many entrepreneurs talk about it and it stings. Rather: It sucks – it really does! Then on the other hand – giving up was never even talked about. The past week, we have already transformed a huge amount of the input into actual tasks and got into talks with new potential mentors right away. So I’ll sign off here with the words of Michael Jordan:
I have failed over and over again in my life – and that is why I succeed.