Week 1 at the Techstars Accelerator Program

Reflections on the first week in the Alchemist Techstars Blockchain accelerator program in New York. Digesting the American mindset and style of work.

Not long after learning about getting accepted into the accelerator program, the five of us landed at JFK airport in New York. Roman, Jakub and Kamil, who represent the core of the Veracity Protocol team, are now accompanied by two new additions to the team — Matus, CTO and Albert, Sr. Product Manager.

Moving in

We set up our basecamp in Union City, New Jersey, about a 15-minute bus ride away from the heart of Manhattan, where the Techstars office is currently located. This neighborhood we’re in is super convenient as we’re also able to include a relaxing morning stroll through the city every day.

Since we brought quite a few tasks with us from Prague, we spent most of our Sunday working and preparing for our first day at Techstars. This involved going through legal stuff, coding, algorithm optimization, designing, financial planning, shopping for groceries and of course drinking some of our homemade pear brandy.

Monday

The program started on Monday at 9AM. We obtained access cards to the hub, had a small welcome breakfast, checked out the welcome package (we got some Techstars-branded swag) and met some of the guys from the other startups that made it to the 2 % of successful applicants. The real unicorns, I’m telling you.

These 9 other companies at different stages of development are trying to break through in various industries — games, accountancy, media or healthcare. Veracity Protocol is one of the three non US-based startups. AnyLedger is based in Berlin and Trixta comes from South Africa. The rest comes from the US. It’s really an interesting mix of people and companies here, as there are complete newbies amongst us as well with those who’ve already established successful companies under their belts or have already been to this Techstars accelerator program before.

You can see the full list of the other 9 companies here.

Monday was mostly about getting us on board to the program’s structure, house rules, and communication etiquette. One can really feel the sense of urgency here. Give first, work hard, follow up and follow through. Treat the mentors and investors well, keep them in the loop, and stroke their egos a bit. Cognitive overload. Structure and communication are absolute key; if you don’t have them, you’re dead by the end of next week at the latest.

The whole week was insanely intense. We usually got up at 6AM and started practicing our pitch to perfect it. Jakub cooked the eggs in the meantime #babica. Then we spent the whole day in the office, attending sessions and workshops, meeting the Techstars and Alchemist team and getting to know each other.

Just a couple of bullet points with highlights from the first days of week one:

Tuesday

  • Starting early, Roman, Jakub and Matus went to the CEOs and the CTOs weekly recurring breakfast respectively, where they talk about their feelings and occasionally cry
  • Attended a class on how to set and measure KPIs
  • Pitch practicing workshop — how to best communicate what your company does in no more than 30 seconds. Will be useful later today.
  • Mentor mixer. Before we managed to wrap our heads around what was going on, Jakub pitched Veracity Protocol to over 60 mentors and investors to get their attention.
  • …and he actually got the curiosity of 7 of them, as they approached us later that evening to talk to us.

Wednesday

  • The infamous Marshmallow challenge taught us some valuable lessons in the morning — one being that testing our assumptions early and often is a must. We also learned that others are not as far with their products as we often tend to think.
  • Another workshop led by Yossi (the program leader), this time on how to set goals
  • Later in the day, we got introduced to the All-hands meeting and other family-like activities, such as the family dinner & family after-dinner-drinking
  • Pizza and beers were served (pro tip: pizza with shrimp & sausage topping is no good)

Thursday

  • It finally started to feel like we were actually working as we started ticking off the tasks from our to-do list
  • We spent a considerable amount of time jotting down our KPIs and contributing to the discussion with strong opinions
  • Had a first reality-check session with Yossi who helped us to start thinking about what we really want to do and how we will make it happen
  • I’m not even mentioning working until late in the night, because that’s what startups do, right?!

Friday

  • A session with the Alchemist guys energized the team pretty damn well — after hearing what kind of technology we have in our hands, they immediately asked for a brainstorming session with us. Just 3–4 hours long. Would Sunday work for you? Damn, sure.
  • We went out to Brooklyn in the afternoon to throw some axes and relax a bit. The Techstars team organized this activity for all of us here to get to know each other and decompress a bit after the rough start we had, oh yeah.
  • It was fun.

That would be it. Over the weekend, we tried to catch up with all the homework and took some rest (not enough though) to get ready for the week to come.

This week, we’re meeting about 40 mentors with the aim of finding the right one, who will eventually become our lead mentor to help us get to where we want to be.

Cheers, and stay tuned for our weekly updates. We’d love to hear from you about what would make these updates more interesting. Let us know in the comments!

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The Protocol of Trust for Physical Objects • Protecting customers, brands, and national security / #traceability #trust #authentication #protection #security

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Veracity Protocol

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The Protocol of Trust for Physical Objects • Protecting customers, brands, and national security / #traceability #trust #authentication #protection #security

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