Last week’s Hyperaccelerator has come and gone, and as the dust settles there are a couple standout moments and experiences worth sharing. Overall, we noticed that day 1 to day 6 made all the difference. Not only were the companies more confident in their pitches, they graduated with viable business plans.
The first day we introduced everyone and went straight into preliminary pitches. Each company showed us what they had, and received feedback from our valuable mentors. Some of the best advice that day was about the mentality of the companies. “All investors see 750+ pitches. It’s like we’re in a grocery store. As investors, we have options and you need to be the best. Good entrepreneurs should see 750+ pitches. That way you know what works and you know what doesn’t.” We ended the day going over business model canvases. This meant that, among other things, each company identified their key partners, milestones, potential customers, the channels of distribution, how they provide a solution and if they have an unfair advantage.
Speakers: Peter Adams, Sumanth Channabasappa
Mentors: Andrew McGregor, Charles McGregor, Kevin Morningstar, Sumanth Channabasappa, Michael Martensen, Nowell Outlaw, Rich Kopcho, Russ Krajec and Ryan Cram.
“Who is your second customer?”
Tuesday focused on Exit Strategy and Strategic Planning. Being able to answer that question above was something our HA companies couldn’t initially answer. That is because the “second customer” is often a potential acquisition or merge, and most companies do not consider these options. To be clear, an exit strategy is not the end. For some, it is the way they determine how they can serve their immediate customers better. Many investors want to know what your exit strategy is, and the companies that have an answer show a forward-looking team.
Speakers: Peter Adams, Bill McCalpin
Mentors: Barry Marston, Brett Karjalainen, Brett Schklar, Dave Talon, John Carter, Nancy Meadows, Kevin Morningstar, Nathalie Rachline, Viki Mann and Zaphne Kemp.
Marketing was the name of the game on Wednesday. First we looked into due diligence to give each company an idea of what information was out there and could come up. Marketing and due diligence can often go hand and hand, as a marketing strategy should reflect the company. After learning about what makes a marketing plan successful, the companies also learned how to engage with potential customers over a variety of platforms. Each company identified three potential risks and formed resolution strategies. For some, the main risk was engaging users. Others, it was the large players already out there. Regardless, Brand reputation can help overcome obstacles and needs to be conveyed in through a marketing strategy.
Speakers: Dave Harris, Katie Feldhaus and Tom Cross
Mentors: Barry Marston, Brett Schklar, Dave Talon, Katie Feldhaus, Murray Arenson, Pamela DeBellis, Rich Kopcho, Kevin Morningstar, Tom Cross, Vanessa Carmean, Viki Mann and Zaphne Kemp.
Creating a believable proforma was the focus of Thursday morning. This is a scenario in numbers. Through it, you map key relationships and what you project for the future of a company. It is important that both a top down and a bottom up approach are used in creating a proforma. A good pitch deck includes a 3×7 snapshot – with REAL comps. Every company re-did their financials around seven times as they gained new insights and made slight changes to their financial strategy. This was the day most people struggled with, but ultimately each company developed believable plans.
Speakers: Peter Adams and Rick Brodie
Mentors: Bill Shriver, Andrew McGregor, Charles McGregor, Brett Karjalainen, Dave Talon, John Carter, Krishna Kunapuli, Murray Arenson, Kevin Morningstar, Nancy Meadows, Neil Blank, Ryan Cram, Steven Olson and Zaphne Kemp.
Day 5 addressed the tricky art of valuation. One mentor advised: “Don’t arm wrestle a valuation. Get money, fast. Give results. You can add more later.” After the initial lesson, the companies found themselves going back and forth with their valuations. They learned that some things are really concrete while others are extremely subjective. Pitch Academy and practice filled the afternoon, with each company getting the opportunity to practice at least twice for feedback.
Speakers: Peter Adams
Mentors: Catherine Compitello, Charles McGregor, Dave Harris, David Lechner, Jason Kania, Joni Kripal, Mike Emerson, Kevin Morningstar, Nowell Outlaw, Steven Olson and Zaphne kemp.
Fondly referred to by the companies as “do or die” day. In the morning we went over term sheets with the companies (something we believe each company should consider) and then spend time perfecting pitches. Then it was Demo Day! A large crowd of investors showed up to ask questions and offer feedback, and many were very interested in following the companies into the next stages. Clearly, the hard work paid off.
Mentors: Andrew McGregor, Charles McGregor, Jason Kania, John Carter, Murray Arenson, Kevin Morningstar, Nathalie Rachline, Philippe Brunet and Steven Olson.
Our suggestions to future Hyperaccelerator companies: do your homework. We provide HyperHomework approximately two weeks before the program starts. This is so that companies can begin to think like investors. Not surprisingly, thinking like an investor is necessary when pitching to potential investors. Getting everyone in that mindset before they come in helps the companies understand what information they need to include.
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