A couple of weeks ago, we talked about being a startup, and how that comes with a different set of rules. And where does one go to learn this different set of rules?
Startup school, of course!
Startup accelerators have been a staple in Silicon Valley for years, but with the rise of the entrepreneur, new and extremely successful accelerator programs have begun popping up across the country – including one in our own back yard, which just happened to be ranked in the top 15 in the nation for 2015 by Forbes.
A few weeks after we sat down to discuss the idea of GILD Collective, we recognized the potential for our idea and knew that we were the three people with the drive to make it happen. We applied to The Brandery, that top-ranked accelerator we mentioned above, with a week left to the deadline to make it into the 2015 class, and were thrilled to be invited for an interview.
The interview weekend was… exhausting. As newbie entrepreneurs, we weren’t accustomed to pitching our idea for hours on end – talking investors and pivots and traction – it felt like a foreign language, but one we were ready to learn. We met alumni of the program, fellow finalists, and awed over the success of a female mentor with a ‘don’t-give-a-f*$&’ attitude. We ate pizza while walking to a venture capitalists penthouse apartment and at the end of the night we questioned if we would ever sleep again.
The first 28 minutes of our interview were fantastic, we were asked questions like, “what types of crafts are you considering?” and then in the last two minutes things shifted. Our plan wasn’t moving fast enough, we needed to accelerate and we needed to prove that we could do that. We knew it, but we hadn’t shown it yet. We walked out of the interview feeling defeated, but like a fire had been lit under us. We rushed through what was supposed to be a leisurely lunch filled with mimosas and got ourselves back in front of a white board to draft our “hurry up” plan. We sent it over to the Brandery founders that day and started executing against it immediately.
And we haven’t stopped.
We found out shortly after the interview that we were accepted to the Brandery, and this picture is the best thing to show you the excitement we felt in that moment. Our lives had changed and we couldn’t wait for the uncertainty ahead.
So, what does ‘being in the Brandery’ mean? It means we get seed stage funding to get our business off the ground. It means we get access to amazing mentors and brilliant minds on a daily basis. It means we get to work with an amazing agency (hi, Spicefire!) And it means we get to push our business along every single day as we gear up for “demo day” in October. We’ll stand up in front of a room of 300+ powerful investors and dazzle them with our idea, prove that there is traction for it, and ask for the opportunity to make it even bigger. (See, I’m already learning the language!) Only 95 days to go!