On Wednesday, June 6, StartFast mentor Brad Feld, Managing Partner of Foundry Group and father of TechStars, presented on how to get the most from mentors. He then answered questions. Mike D’Eredita, CEO of Mozzo Analytics asked, “Where should we be at this point in the program?” Brad answered, “What are you in Week 4? Tired and confused.”
The mass sigh was almost audible as the blood pressure dropped to near-normal for everyone in the room. I could almost see thought bubbles appear above multiple heads saying, “Thank God it’s not just me!”
Over the first four weeks of StartFast 2012 our eight teams have met individually and in groups with over 30 world-class mentors. This point is the peak of “mentor whiplash”, a phenomenon which happens when founders receive a tsunami of often conflicting advice from multiple mentors.
“We do this for a reason.” says StartFast co-managing director Chuck Stormon, “The entire StartFast program, beginning with the application process and continuing right on up through Demo Day and beyond, is designed to challenge companies, ideas, products and founders in such a way as to find weaknesses and accelerate the failure of those elements which will hold a company back.” Co-managing director Nasir Ali adds, “By failing fast and iterating, StartFast companies evolve at a greatly accelerated pace. Where else can a company safely fail five times in three months?”
Acceleration is what it’s all about. StartFast has three teams who are already in the scaling phase, building momentum as fast as possible. Guard My Angel topped 7,112 total downloads of their Android app this week as they rolled out the new features and experimented with campaigns on Facebook. This team is ready for a big partnership to drive massive user adoption. PadProof added 160 new photography studios this week alone as they leveraged partner-power in both social media and email campaigns. StreamSpec just started the scaling phase as they went live with their first customer this week, web publisher SnagFreebies.com.
On the brink of scaling are Mozzo Analytics, BitePal and RevoPT. MozzoLinks is about to shift from private beta with 138 users and over the next few weeks start scaling users exponentially. RevoPT has 6 physical therapists in 3 clinics using their beta release. One therapist created 15 exercise videos last week alone. They have mapped out a plan to onboard more clinics over the coming weeks. BitePal is developing a merchant portal to allow restaurants to onboard themselves with a few clicks. They’ll be testing marketing campaigns over the next couple of weeks. Two StartFast teams, Tivity and Canvita, are beta testing new prototypes each week, looking for the right mix of design and features before scaling. Getting this right is crucial and these teams are iterating rapidly to find product/market fit.
It appears that the high-pressure environment of the StartFast Venture Accelerator is beginning to produce diamonds. For this we are entirely grateful to our fabulous mentors who all have some connection with Upstate New York and are helping our founders in countless ways. This week mentors Kate Dohring, owner of Rock It Media, Lee Huang, Product Director, Digital Newsstand and Emerging Content at Barnes & Noble, Kate Brodock, Executive Director of Digital & Social Media, Syracuse University | CMO, Girls in Tech | Founder, Other Side Group, angel investor Jud Gostin, high-growth icon Philip Kaplan, Jeremy Levine, Founder and CEO of StarStreet Sports, Brad Feld, Martin Babinec and Michael Flannery, Managing Director of Redwood Partners met with the StartFast teams.