Start-up Bootcamp: Is It For You?

One of the first emails I received upon arriving on campus was for a weekend-long ‘start-up boot camp’. 7pm Friday night to 7pm Sunday night with strict instructions that there would be no free time for anything else over the 48 hours, but that you would walk away with the tools to equip you to begin the start-up journey as either an entrepreneur or an angel investor.

A rather big commitment for two weeks into my MBA with my FMV readings already piling up, but coming out the other side I can say it was absolutely worth it. If you’re curious, you can read about the experience in a nutshell below.

Friday night: People

We met our Bootcamp Director, an alumna and experienced angel investor, and introduced ourselves to our classmates for the weekend: about 40 other 16Ds. Everyone who had an idea gave a 30 second pitch and then we broke out to form teams.

Despite pitching my own idea, I ended up joining a team passionate about music and keen to bring the European and American festival experience to the Indian market where currently there are only a handful of festivals, mostly focused on EDM.

Other teams formed around ideas like 3D printed jewelry for kids, connecting the elderly with services and support, and helping venues manage crowds to maximize revenue.

We all left around 11pm ahead of an 8.30am start on Saturday!

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(source: NH7 weekender: http://www.nh7.in)

Saturday: Proposition.

Saturday was intense. Our Bootcamp Director walked us through each element of an Executive Summary in about thirty minutes. After each short session, we’d break into our teams to briefly discuss and apply what we’d learned.

We started with the problem and market opportunity and then went through the revenue model, the financials, the investment needed, and ultimately our plan for exit. We never quite had enough time to completely think through every detail, but this meant we were forced to move on to every element so that at the end of the day, (after a much-needed, relaxed break for a sit-down dinner!), we had enough information to pull together a double-sided A4 Executive Summary for our panel of Entrepreneurs and Investors to review ahead of Pitch day on Sunday.

I was lucky that my team finished at 11pm, but other teams with more complicated products and services continued into the wee hours of the morning!

Sunday: Pitch.

Sunday we prepared to Pitch. In the morning we watched examples of great and not so great new product pitches and discussed the importance of a telling a compelling story. My personal favorite, Dollar Shave Club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUG9qYTJMsI.

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Over lunch we prepared our own 60-second pitch and practiced in front of the class ahead of the judges’ arrival in the afternoon. Pitching was nerve-racking! And it was certainly interesting to see that so much funding success depends on who you’re pitching to. In our case, one of the judges completely dismissed us simply because he wasn’t familiar with or interested in festivals. But that’s the way it goes and is exactly the type of challenge entrepreneurs face in reality. It’s essential to find someone who believes in your product as much as you do!

Ultimately, the judges chose a winner from the ten ideas and the team got a bottle of champagne and a much-deserved round of applause – it was a tough weekend and a tough panel!

I could go on but this post is already too long. It was an intense, but great weekend and if you’re even remotely considering entrepreneurship, venture capital, or angel investing, this is a great way to see if you want to continue to explore the field and/or if the early ideas you have have legs. I walked away from the weekend thinking I would absolutely continue to learn more about the industry. A picture of my fabulous team at the end of it all, below!

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By the way, if we do find investors to pull off our festival in Goa, Claptone is at the top of our list. If you haven’t heard of them, check this out: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4mncDFjVLUa3s025Tct3Ry