R9 Accelerator Week 5 & 6 – An interview with Shawn O’Keefe

 

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Week 5 and 6 are critical times in the programme where participants start feeling the pressure. The focus lies heavily on product market fit; testing the market with customers to validate their solutions. Team dynamics start to get strained – It’s a challenging time for everybody in the cohort.

The week was brought to a roaring start with R9’s accelerator teams working closely with Creative HQ’s Glenn Andert and Amanda Santos. This segment of the sales and investability workshop was focused on helping teams shape their cold calling scripts and skills. The first month of the programme had flown by, and there was an underlying urgency to get those early adopter agreements and to see what that looks like.

Nick Gerritsen, who’s very passionate about the environment and sustainability, came in and inspired teams by showing them ways that their work could impact their world on a global context. An investor, connector and advisor at Creative HQ, he also provided a feedback session where teams were able to refine and build up their elevator pitch.

Teams were then given the opportunity to articulate this during a fun session where we invited Lightning Lab XX over here to Creative HQ (where the R9 accelerator is headquartered). We played the Half Baked game where you draw a bunch of tech terms out of a hat and use that to pitch a startup, as often is done at startup weekends. It was a great way to break the ice between the XX cohort and R9 cohort, working together to creatively pitch these pretend startups.

Week 6 was about pushing ahead, with the teams once again lucky to have additional office hours from mentors. We had some fantastic meetings, which included our meet and experience events in the space. This is where a number of folks from the government agencies get to come into the space and learn more about the programme. We had about 20 people come in and meet the teams and hear them pitch, which was an enjoyable experience.

We then had a great session with Chapman Tripp around Legal 101, covering the different entities formed in a startup world. They went into the differences between a startup vs a private partnership and all the legal frameworks surrounding that. Teams then joined XX in a meeting with Microsoft around their platform Azure. Microsoft offers XX a number of perks and benefits, and what’s really fantastic is they’ve extended some of those assets (free credits for Azure!) to the R9 cohort as well.

Friday kicked off with a session from one of the teams who’s very knowledgeable about mindfulness. They shared a meditation framework that you can use when things are quite hectic, as often happens in the startup world. It’s often good to take some time to focus on one thing and clear your thoughts. We wrapped up the week with a film screening that the whole R9 cohort had crowdsourced. They voted on 5 different films and ended up with one called True Cost, which is about the global fast fashion movement. I was surprised but delighted that the cohort decided to select that film, as it’s a powerful film that deals with globalization – how businesses and solutions are being built and the number of people it impacts around the world.

We do film screenings throughout the programme from time to time to inspire and motivate. The last time we did Print the Legend which is about startup culture within the lens of the 3D printing movement.

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