Credit: Zootopia

Credit: Zootopia

We’re coming down the wire at BoomStartup and I wanted to address the elephant in the room: FUNDING

As we get closer to Demo Day, the pressure is on for every Cohort to secure capital. It’s a difficult task as you work to complete deliverables in the program, prepare your pitches, run your company and still do the dance with investors. It’s all a day in the life of an entrepreneur, so no big deal. Of course, the stated advantage of an Accelerator is that cohorts will be put squarely in front of investors.

At BoomStartup, we have been introduced to many, many investors. These contacts would otherwise take months (if not years) to find, let alone build a relationship. It’s pretty awesome, but can be a little misleading if you’re not careful.

MYTH: Getting accepted into an Accelerator means you’ll get funded.

REALITY: A percentage of cohorts get funded.

Note: At BoomStartup, the percentage of cohorts getting funded is statistically higher than other Accelerators in the United States and it is one of the reasons they are so highly ranked and respected across the nation.

Below I have listed a handful of questions I’ve been asked by friends and included my thoughts.

#1:  If you don’t get funded, is your time at BoomStartup a waste?

For JRNL? No. For other companies? Maybe. It really depends on the reason a cohort has for joining the program. If a company came into BoomStartup banking on raising capital, there’s a chance they’re going to leave butt hurt. If they joined the program to get better, learn new ways to skin a cat, make friendships, develop relationships with investors and gain visibility in the Utah technology ecosystem, then they’re going to get all they bargained for. I think the challenge is taking the lessons learned at BoomStartup and using that knowledge to get better. Capital is always good, but sometimes it’s not about the money.

#2: Why do Mentors volunteer their time?

This is one of my favorites. Mentors are often paraded around as investors. Sometimes they are, most often they’re not. Some mentors truly want to give back and they love teaching and want to help startups succeed. Some mentors want connections/relationships and deal flow. The rest of the mentors see a feeder for new clientele. I don’t know how any Accelerator can avoid this happening, but it’s not awesome to speak with a mentor to have them hard sell you on their company’s services.

#3: What’s your greatest fear about being in an Accelerator?

Time lost. It’s difficult to work remotely and expect to be able to still run your business effectively. I don’t care if you’re traveling from out of town or you’re simply displaced out of your office from 10 miles away. It’s hard. Unless you’re a startup that’s still in the planning and strategy phases, the chances are that your business lives and breathes by the progress made each day by the founders. There’s no getting around it. When you’re in a program, you’re absolutely at risk of things stalling for twelve weeks or at least delaying your progress for a couple of months.

#4: What has been the key to your success at BoomStartup?

Relentless effort. I work my butt off. This is the vicious cycle I’ve been experiencing:

  1. Show up in Utah on Monday after an early morning flight and take Uber to the Impact Hub.
  2. Sit in class or attend meetings nearly all day.
  3. Finish each day and go to my hotel and spend all night catching up with my team.
  4. Stay on the phone like I’m still on PST only to realize it’s 1am in Utah.
  5. Go to bed.
  6. Wake Up.
  7. Repeat Steps 2-6
  8. Fly home at the end of the Week.
  9. Spend the entire next week catching up on what I missed the previous week, getting almost nothing accomplished.
  10. Travel back to Utah the following week.

To my fellow cohorts that were with me at Peak Ventures when this question was asked to my face… fist bump. LOL!

#5: Why Salt Lake City?

You might associate Salt Lake City with the LDS Church or Utah Jazz, but did you know that Utah is one of the best startup communities in the United States? It’s really amazing compared to what you’ll find in Las Vegas. I think it has more to do with the activity of Investors than the ideas or want-to. I know there are plenty of entrepreneurs with great ideas in Vegas, but the access to capital just isn’t as great as it is in Salt Lake City. I chalk that up to the real estate and casino industry mentality and probably the lack of educated investors. I also chalk it up to the strength of the university programs at BYU and Utah that are pumping out quality workers and entrepreneurs. As one Silicon Valley investor shared, “There’s something to be said about an entrepreneur that probably doesn’t drink, works hard and maybe speaks another language.” Yeah, that’s a pretty broad-stroked stereotype, but if funds are believing the hype and setting up offices in Utah, that’s a great loss for Las Vegas. The negative view about Vegas (which is unfair) boasts every distraction in the world for a twenty-something year old entrepreneur with a fist full of cash. Can anyone say, “Hold if the dealer is showing a 6?”

In the end, we’ve all been busting our tails trying to raise money. Funding is never easy and it doesn’t really get easier just because you’re in an Accelerator. But I’m a big believer in the odds of getting a hit the more at-bats you take. The Accelerator at least makes sure you’re in the game.

That’s the latest from JRNL at BoomStartup 2016. If you have any questions, hit me up on Linkedin.

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