After seven days of driving from Waterloo, Canada I finally made it to California with my "Where in the world is Wall Drug?" bumper sticker (the mark of a true cross-country traveler), eager to explore what the infamous Bay Area had to offer and contribute in ways I didn’t yet know how to define.
As with any relocation, step one – find an apartment; step two – furnish it.
This led to Craigslist and the purchase of a mocha Scandinavian Design futon that seemed to be a snag of a deal. As it turns out, that futon is possibly the most rewarding investment I’ve done to date! The seller was a founder of Startup Monthly, and within minutes of “small talk” I was hooked with the vision of defining a template for entrepreneurship and making it available to anyone with an idea willing to get that initial traction.
Entrepreneur or Engineer? Why not Entrepreneurial Engineer?!
As a newly graduated Nanotechnology Engineer, I already had two full years of international work experience thanks to a great co-op/internship program at the University of Waterloo (aka the M.I.T of Canada). I was well-equipped with a multidisciplinary set of skills and the lure to help foster entrepreneurship seemed fitting. I was now facing a dilemma of whether I should pursue R&D in nanotechnology or dive into a world filled with lean startup methodologies, customer development, moonlighting, and other Silicon Valley lingos.
Every problem is an opportunity in disguise. In fact, problems do not exist, there are only situations. - Mindaugas Krisciunas (recent Ice Breaker participant and co-founder of Pinevio)
Nanotechnology Startups are hard to find. Until recently, I didn’t think that idea accelerators and incubator programs existed for non-software, but nonetheless technical startups. Enter Biocurious – your Bay Area hacker-space for biotech. It recognized that the tools for biotech engineering are getting cheaper rapidly and a collaborative lab space can help catalyze innovation and bring it within reach of citizen scientists and not just large corporations. It’s the beginning of a new genre of startups. Next Stop: Nanocurious?
Startup Monthly is another example of an opportunity that rose out of the high entry barriers of incubators such as Y Combinator (YC) and 500 Startups. Despite the number of YC companies increasing every cycle, the acceptance rate remains steadfast at < 3%, meaning getting into YC can be as difficult as getting into Harvard. The competition is stiff, and though the reward is high, Startup Monthly can be seen as a stepping stone to form great teams and pivot ideas quickly in preparation for such applications.
What is Startup Monthly?
Startup Monthly is a series of Entrepreneurship Accelerators that bring talent together by HANDS ON monthly workshops, educational talks and socials. Budding entrepreneurs can enter the Ice Breaker event to find potential co-founders, join an idea, and create teams.
The second step, the Idea Accelerator, is geared towards teams that emerge from the Ice Breaker, or sister programs such as the recent Women 2.0 Startup Weekend and other hackathons (such as Angel Hack). These inspired teams can test the waters of their prototype through customer development, and define MVPs, hack, launch, demo and show traction all within 5 weeks. Constructive feedback is brought in every week from Startup Monthly’s network of serial entrepreneurs and industry experts, and demo days at the end of each month provide a platform to pitch to VCs and angels.
When startups already have a solid team with beta MVPs, the Team Accelerator customizes their methodology to your product, and provides more specific mentorship, legal advice, and traction towards attaining seed investment.
There is an entire ecosystem within the startup world, and Startup Monthly is a small, but affordable and dynamic option that can help entrepreneurs find each other and accelerate their ideas, prototypes and teams. It’s greatly satisfying knowing that I’m helping shape an Entrepreneurship Academy that can provide the necessary structure, tools and mentorship to help build your company!
Startup Monthly Team includes Software Architects, UX Designers, Legal, Financial, Lean Startup experts, Serial Entrepreneurs and Industry experts