Last Thursday at Accelerate Cambridge was our first mentor day, where teams could meet with over 20 different mentors to discuss specific aspects of our ideas and businesses. This is where one the biggest benefits of the Accelerate programme lies, we’re able to get advice from people who have done it all before.
So far each team has prepared and practised a five minute pitch on our business. We delivered these on a Saturday morning to a lecture theatre filled with people who have been successful in business, now volunteering their time to help new companies. When the first pitch of the morning finished (which I thought was excellent) and the first comment was “I’ve listened to your pitch and I don’t know what you do”, I thought we’d stepped into Dragon’s Den. In fact, each team received ten minutes of excellent feedback, ideas and constructive criticism.
There followed a ‘speed dating’ session between founders and mentors, who had selected startups they were interested in or thought they could help. The ‘dates’, though, were a little one-sided, like turning up to your graduation ball with a famous actor or actress.
Which brings us to mentor day, teams were able to book 45 minute sessions with mentors of wide ranging backgrounds representing many industries. For Nowomics I had hugely valuable discussions about marketing and selling software in the publishing industry with someone who has done just that, and the lowdown on structuring software licensing deals from an entrepreneur and technology sales consultant. These provided important insights that I wouldn’t have had access to elsewhere. I finished the day with answers to many questions, new ideas, and looking forward to the next mentor day in December.
Thursday 6th November also saw lots of smart startup founders and mentors for Accelerate Cambridge ‘Suits for Suits’ day. This is a scheme set up by Kaye Coleman-Rooney, one of our lead coaches, to raise money for Medecins sans Frontieres to buy Ebola protection suits for healthcare workers. Read more about ‘Suits for Suits’ here.
The author of this blog is Richard Smith of Nowomics.