My 3 Weeks at The GSF Accelerator; The Structure and the Journey
It has been close to 3 weeks since my team and the rest of the 16 startups entered, in an optimistically cautious manner, to the first ever GSF multi-city accelerator program. And boy has it been a roller coaster ride to say the least.
Roller coaster in terms of emotional drains and jubilation experiencing highs and lows on morale, and the whole experience of meeting so many distinguished industry personnel in such a period of time, not just meeting them, but being able to interact with them in a personal 1:1 manner.
And we are loving every moment of it!
The aim of the program is to convert us from teenagers to adults. In 6 weeks flat! A tall task, but Rajesh and his team seem hell bent on doing that, and so are we (bruises and stitches all included)
The program is structured in an interesting manner. Bangalore has 5 companies, Mumbai has 4 and Delhi has 6. Each site has about 3 to 4 EIRs (Entrepreneurs In Residence). EIRs are young and energetic entrepreneurs in their own right, and are now full-time focussed on helping us mature. Each team is allotted one primary and one secondary EIR. The primary EIR becomes the person on whose shoulders the acceleratee turns to in times of need, crying, shouting, arguing but always learning at every step of the way. And the other EIRs are around to help as and when they can and as and when requested.
And Rajesh Sawhney is the fuel that runs the whole machinery, silently and in the background, running around constantly, travelling continuously between the 3 cities and many others across the globe (I get my geography lessons, following him on twitter!)
Now moving on to what happens daily! At the first (or was it second) day, we were warned by Rajesh that they intend to put us through a grinding routine and we need to be ready. Sounding a lot like my college dean, but with a lot more smile and energy behind him, he wanted us to work harder than we ever did and he promised he and his team would do the same, and together we could achieve the goal of taking us from a team which has an idea and a solid prototype to a viable business. And we nodded in earnest, little realizing that he was quite serious about the hard work.
Every day in the afternoon at 3, the team gets 2-4 established and very credible mentors (the kind you typically meet in conferences and feel awestruck and feel happy when they even make eye contact with you), who not only participate in a personal round panel session, but also have 1:1 with all the startups. Every day as part of the round table, we pitch about our product and our company to the mentors and everyday our pitches get better and better, with our respective EIRs continuously and constantly giving us feedback on how to improve pitch, our product positioning, feedback from the mentors, etc.
The sessions collectively go on for about 4 hours (with some intermediate free time, but that goes off in waiting outside the door and knocking when the anointed time arrives).
And this means, we need to find those hours from the rest of the ‘free time’ to do our regular job, which btw is also on an accelerated mode, because we are all working towards demo day which is scheduled on Nov 27th!
That’s GSF accelerator in brief. We are now 3 weeks into the program, with another 3 more to go and we are all pumped up. Here is hoping we are able to make maximum use of this program and come out better prepared to handle our respective business, wiser and if things go well, with financial backing too
Will write about the specifics of the mentors and what we learnt from them in future posts! Until then, have fun read reading other blog posts.
Kumar Rangarajan is a co-founder & CEO of Little Eye Labs, which he started alongwith his 3 friends, all ex-IBMers, and with wide ranging experiences. @ Little Eye Labs, they build new generation tools for the new generation of mobile app developers and testers, tools that provide deeper insights into mobile apps than never before. Their first product is called “littleEye appInsight” and they like to call it the “CT scanner for Android apps”. They are accepting beta signups currently @ http://www.littleeye.co
GSF is now selecting promising start-ups to present at the GSF 2012 Forum in Gurgaon on Nov 26-27. With over 300 investors slated to attend, this event is one of the largest of its kind in India. Find out more at gsfindia.com.