An even madder week

The second week of mentor madness came to an end. This week, we met up with mentors four days in a row, from Monday to Thursday, without a break. This because, for the first time ever, in the city of Berlin National Women’s day became a true public holiday. Everyone was home and everything was closed, even supermarkets. Berlin is the first city in Germany to take this step, in a call for gender equality.

Our cohort’s “Balance for better” picture

Techstars decided to, understandably, go along with this newborn Berlin tradition and the schedule was shifted around to make a last unified final stretch to the end of mentor madness. Tired from the intensity of the week before, we all had to focus or energy to make the most out the final week.

Having gained some experience from the week before, we were more confident in how to structure the 20 minutes we had available with each mentor. However, despite going in with a plan, it can all change depending on who you are talking to. Some mentors will let you talk first and will want a brief introduction of yourself and of the product, maybe see a quick demo. Then they will ask you hard questions, sometimes things you had never thought about. Others will go straight to the point and ask you “What can I do for you, how can I help?” In the end, the mentors will give their opinion. It is definitely useful to get so many outside (mostly) unbiased opinion about your product. It was exciting this week to start to understand which mentors were a match and which ones weren’t. After every mentor day, our Techstars Director, Jag Singh, met with all of the mentors to get feedback from them about each company and then he would share it with us. This way we got a clear view not only on which mentors were interested in working with us, but also on what we were doing good and on which areas we could improve and make some changes.

Samir Mirza, founder and CTO of TapCommerce

We ended the week on a festive note, toasted to the end of mentor madness and looking forward to our second family night, the first one organized by one of the startups. Before the working week ended, however, we got to enjoy the exciting founder story of Samir Mirza. Samir was the CTO and founder of TapCommerce, a company acquired by Twitter for $100M in 2014. It was a very inspiring story, which underlined mostly the importance of hard work, mixed with not being afraid of putting your product out there (it will never be as perfect as you want it to be in your mind) and to keep going despite getting some rejection on your path.

After Samir’s story, we all met up at Cassiopeia’s family night. The Israeli startup organized a delicious hummus based dinner, with the most amazing pita bread I have ever had in my life (!!!) followed by a fun game. To tell you the truth, I don’t like games and wasn’t too much looking forward to it, being the introvert that I am and not enjoy the spotlight. We were asked to previously send in a fun fact about ourselves no one knew about (mine was that I am named after a cat, true story!) Luckily it was an introvert-proof game since it consisted in a multiple-choice guessing game, where we had to give our answers through our phones. The game ended up being won by yours-truly, so needless to say I went from skeptic to enthusiast, I am an extremely competitive person after all!

Playing the Game on Family Night

It’s good that we got a long weekend to recover from these two long mentor madness week, because this next week is gonna be just as hard: it’s the start of “part two” of this Techstars program. Time for new challenges, new adventures and new things to focus on.