Once we were coming to the point where we had to decide which of the three accelerator options to go with, we had a lot of questions we wanted to ask. We got accepted to Upstart in Memphis, StartFast in NY, and NMotion in Nebraska. Everyone else rejected us. They were all about the same with regard to the investment (about $25,000 for 7%), so it was really a matter of which program/people we liked the most. Upstart in Memphis was the top contender (it invested specifically in teams with at least one female founder), so we came up with this list of questions to ask them.read more
So we really like Upstart, and you guys seem to be giving a good deal as far as a lot of accelerators go. Things are: * We applied to YC and Techstars, but we won’t hear from them for quite a while. * We don’t think we like the noise of California and NY * But we don’t know that for sure, it’s a suspicion * But obviously with that noise does come opportunity for investment/connections * So we’re a little stuck on what to do. We don’t even know if we have a shot at them, let alone if we’d want to go. * You’re from San Francisco, but you come to Memphis. So what do you see as the ups/downs of both? * Do you think it’s better for us to be in San Fran or Memphis? * Techstars/YC are totally different programs on what they offer: she likes managing director of Chicago. YC isn’t really an accelerator, she’s close to the people. It’s hands-off. It’s part of a network more than anything else like. Only 10-20 of those companies, only maybe 6/100 got follow-on capital (last year, one of the 2015 classes. This is unpublished). Much much smaller fish, in a much larger pond. Only very few get some from demo day. YC stamp of approval helps them raise money back at home. because they all just sheep toward the top 5-10. * Techstars is a “template” program, they have one master playbook. She’s seen the directions, do this, then do this. * A lot in common to Techstars, helping day to day, larger female population. * We could be #1, get the visibility, could go through another accelerator. A number of teams go through another accelerator. * YC typically doesn’t take people who have gone through an accelerator, at least they say this. Maybe work in: * How is it that people made decisions about YC given the deadlines, or were they different? A few questions: * I do want to confirm that the terms are 5% equity, not 7% as listed on F6S. * It is 7% equity. They’re trying to separate out your valuation. The equity is valuing your company at $625,000. * We take equity for the services that we’re getting. They’re valuing the actual cash and the equity. * What fraction of Upstart/Neverstop’s companies come from outside Tennessee? * 60% come out from outside of Tennessee. Upstart that are made offers to were made to out of state. We get a lot of applications locally, but they will take the best anyway. * Also, the document says that we’ll have to sign other documents. Could you send us all the documents? * Those are referring to the SAFE agreement, setting up a bank account, converting to a C-corp. Ideally do that before the accelerator starts. * Contact also mentions unaudited reviews. Would these be done by a third party or could we just email you a spreadsheet/quickbooks? * Every monday, one of us will say our benchmarks for the week for 2 minutes. On friday we sit down for half an hour and go through everything, how are we keeping on spending money. They just want to make sure we’re . They don’t want their companies to die. They have a safety fund. This is their way to make sure that . It’s for during the program. A lot of the companies will just keep sending weekly updates. Really just for during the program. * At what stage are most startups that Upstart/Neverstop funds (pre-launch, launched, pre-revenue, post-revenue)? * Try really hard to keep it consistent. Only invest in the same stage, about to test their go to market strategy. They need to have a prototype. Sometimes they have to pivot. That wasn’t really working. Now she looks for the team and the problem that they’re solving. All of the founders that are given offer letters. We’re probably right at the middle, some that are more further along, some that are behind. * Tara’s question: why do you think it’s better for us to go to Upstart or YC? Possible Questions: * Seems like a lot of the news about your startups is local. Do you have connections to press beyond Memphis? * Probably don’t do a good enough job on press. If we Google portfolio companies, they would see more. They have local press contacts, they don’t have strong contacts. * We did receive a similar offer from another accelerator, and one thing we do like about them is that they hire interns that can help us with our day to day work. Is there anything like that at Upstart? * They’ve done that for the last four years. They stopped doing it last year. They have about 7 interns. What happened in the past is that they’d work on a project, the team members just told them to do social media. And they complained. And the teams got so stressed out for demo day to really educate the interns. Turns out . They work on StartCo stuff. And if we need them, we can ask them for them. Can we ask them for a certain amount of time. Don’t assign them to a company. They have an entire database. * We would have no trouble with finding them. * Nobody with technical skills on the . IT teams get really bored at Autozone, they’ll come in and they’ll do work with the startups. They sort of volunteer their services to help with certain development products. * They have a media production intern, photography, digital media. * They have someone with english brand copy, tag lines, marketing standpoint. * Someone who has experience with sales, newsletters, partners, investors. * Those are the ones they hired so far. They have other interns. * They pay their interns $2000/month, they’re full-time, 8am-11pm, and most weekends. * They have a couple of startups right now that are paying interns $1200/month. * Could them for just college credit. What are the kind of things that she’ll miss: * She’ll miss a lot of the programming, the mentors only come in in May. * They’re a lot more likely to invest if they see her during the mentor. * The entire first is just customer development. As an example, go through all our potential customer development. * Talking to a lot of users one on interview. * As long as she can help you virtually. Going to need her help to take * She’s probably going to be presenting on demo day. * She’s going to be a month behind on practicing for * Women’s empowerment people come in, she’ll get the information from me. Maybe we could find someone help us as an intern. The first two weeks is going to be super front loaded on the first two weeks of May. * Could save by splitting a two bedroom.