I got the chance to work with Boomtown Accelerator's latest class over the past five weeks and it has been nothing but phenomenal.
Each of the eleven teams are doing something interesting, and every founder has a fantastic backstory to boot.
My work was focused specifically on startup storytelling, and while I didn't spend a ton of time with each time, I was able to help each team craft their mentor pitch and prepare the rough story arc for their pitch, which will be happening in seven or so weeks.
Here's four key things that stuck out:
One: The self awareness of the founders was impressive. Nobody was cocky. Nobody told me they figured it all out. When I worked with each founder to help edit their pitch they were receptive and wanted to push themselves past good enough. They weren't guarded, or narrow minded, or shy to voice their opinion. It says a lot about what Boomtown is doing and the environment they're creating, but it also reminded me humility is not dead when it comes to early startups.
Two: Storytelling isn't hard. What is hard is identifying what to say. Every team had fifteen different ways they could talk about their company and even more for their products. The challenge we had was identifying which one mattered, and then helping them put that into a story. If you're a founder you know this already, but if you're starting out don't get blinded by the sex of storytelling. That's the easy party.
Three: AI is huge and it is still super hard to explain. Like VR, AI makes sense to some, conjures up bad images for others, and just confuses the heck out of most. There's two different AI teams and they both are having some trouble figuring out how to frame their product. I'm not sure how they'll do it, but come demo night it should be interesting.
Four: Everybody is trying to figure it out. Sounds cliche, and it probably is, but the reality is nobody has any real idea yet how it's all going to shake out during the first few weeks of the program. Some teams came in with a product and traction, while others were profitable and some just had an idea. Every team was engaged, willing to push themselves and in the span of a week they were changing ideas and implementing learnings.
Startup accelerators aren't for everyone, but for founders who are a good fit, they can be pivotal to success. I'm looking forward to seeing how the teams progress and following up here with some thoughts on their pitches come demo night.