If you thought American governmental spending was an area of controversy, take a harder look at the private and local investments pouring into our economy as of late: the GenY-driven, startup accelerators.
Most notably, Y-Combinator has raised that bar for most in the market to grow businesses to exit values of near $900M averages. Yet, are the stakes really that high? Jared Konzcal, guest writing for Forbes.com pointed out that cutting Y-Combinator from statistics drastically lowers both the amount it costs and the amount that’s gained from these programs. (The Grasshopper study in question.) Because Y-Combinator is a high stakes, highly competitive program, it inevitably spends more money on its programs. In order to recoup those costs, it has to push successful companies into further monetary success. You can’t just be two, highly intelligent business and/or creative thinkers with a disruptive idea. You have to be the ground-breaking, high-powered, technopaths with a vendetta for changing the status quo and creating millions upon millions of dollars for only 2-200 people.
It can get a little competitive.
When Tinderbox Studios applied to the University of Iowa – Summer Accelerator Program for Students, I had no idea what to expect. Getting paid to do what I loved seemed too good to be true. It was. It took just as much energy to do “preliminary” work–i.e. strategize, talk to customers, figure out the industry–as it did to do the “actual” work–website design, illustration, follow up emails. We got stellar interviews. We got stoked about ideas we couldn’t even pursue. We even went to #AX & ran around Little Tokyo enjoying life & asking people, “What makes them an anime fan?”
It was fun. In a trudging knee-deep in what looks like mud, but is probably quicksand, that pulls you down into the slow suffocation of no exit strategy & bewildered looks from the teaching team sort of way. “What do you do exactly?” or “I have no idea what you’re doing, but it sounds like you’re going somewhere.”
Thank you. I really hope my 40 hours/week isn’t moving my company nowhere.
UI Venture School teaches the lean Business Model Canvas,which is like Alex Osterwalder’s book Business Model Generation but meaner, tougher, and worked over so many times you forget what you initially wanted to startup halfway through the program. Your execution of the idea makes the difference. We weren’t set loose. But we weren’t held back. There were readings, assignments, and the constant mentor meetings. Deadlines, presentations, networking events–it was like working for a real corporation–minus the bi-monthly paycheck.
Teams changed (known as pivots), re-strategized (iterated), and caffeinated. My team alone drank close to 2200+ cups of coffee this summer.
& Why not?
I got the best opportunities to practice my skills outside the classroom, outside the building. The real world doesn’t hold back opportunities to practice your skills. Only the knowledge you need to achieve them. I now know so much more that I need to know. Strangely, I thought I couldn’t do it all. If anything, Venture School made me realize just how much I can do. How much I do know. How much that, even though I am far from alone, how much I can boot-strap, buckle down, and simply:
Get to work.
Everyone from Tinderbox wants to give a resounding clap to the JPEC Teaming Team, Events Coordinators, and the incredistellaramazing donators that made this summer possible. We wouldn’t be near where we are without you. Even if we’re not quite sure how “near” that is. Thanks. You rock.
The Final Verdict
#UIVS is a local, university & community based Startup Accelerator. Unlike other programs where you have to move into a shady apartment in a beautifully big city, #UIVS opens its classrooms and mentoring networks to students in the Creative Corridor located between Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Coralville, IA. This localization provides more one-on-one attention with the local promoters–people that want to see their community grow, and you to become a major player in that community.
Participating at a larger accelerator is a grand ambition. One of our own applied and succeeded at a program that sits opposite Y-Com in SF Bay Area. He’s pretty cool; and also a computer, genius, coding wiz. I’m computer savvy myself, but I’m not competitive enough for Y-Com. It’s not the idea. It’s the execution behind it.
Venture School showed that we don’t have to be the best at what we want to do starting out. We’ll become the best. We’ll design the best. We’ll develop the best. We just have to know who and why we’re creating something in the first place. Isn’t that worth experimenting with before your rents on the line?
JPEC is hosting an info session for the next Venture School they’re doing. If you’re in the Iowa City area, check it out. If not, check it out anyway. See what we’re doing. Copy us. Albert Einstein once stated, “originality is merely the art of concealing your sources.” Don’t worry. Startup your city & see what happens. We won’t tell a soul.