After our third week of the IgniteU summer accelerator program, the teams have really started to hone in on the vision of their business. To put it in the words of Jordan, the co-founder of Guide: “It’s all starting to come together now—it’s almost sort of scary.”
The accelerator program helps teams shape their structure and business plans, and helps them develop the ability to generate funding and attention. Last week, we brought in experts to discuss raising capital. We had a visit from Tom “TK” Keugler, a renowned venture capitalist from Wasabi Ventures. After each company had the chance to do a one-minute pitch, he provided feedback. TK did a great job exposing the teams to the rawness of entrepreneurship. He shared a story about one of his first big pitches to a notable investor in 1994, who did not even lift his eyes from a newspaper the entire time TK spoke. TK taught the teams the importance of facing adversity and having a thick skin, as well as shared a personal tips for succeeding in the startup world.
Next, Christine Tate shared her experience as an early-stage investor. A valuable mentor in the upstate startup ecosystem, Christine clarified what it takes to pursue different funding options. She also explained the differences between angel and VC-based investing.
We concluded last week’s workshops with a visit from Hanson Grant, a successful student entrepreneur from Saratoga Springs, and his partner Ken Zhang. Hanson founded Thinkboard, a film that turns any surface into a whiteboard. He talked to the teams about “bootstrapping,” which is how to build a successful company without any outside funding.
Also last week, we held our Open House at the IgniteU space in the Quackenbush building in Troy. The event drew nearly 100 people who were curious to hear what the teams had to offer. As the attendees made their way around the room, the teams held their own at their respective stands, informally pitching their company products and services.
Our teams had many valuable takeaways from last week, and they are anticipating what is to come this week. Stay tuned!