Tag Archives: techstars

Techstars Day 3: Moving on From Homelessness

This is a blog post in a series written during the first fortnight of our participation in Techstars London 2015.

What did you do today?

Julie in a flat we viewed

Julie in a flat we viewed

We’ve been in London for four days now, but are still living in a hotel close to the office, trying to find somewhere to live in London, preferably that’s close to the office. After another few hours trawling the property listings (and joking with the program director that we’d be sleeping under the desks) we secured two property viewings. We talked about studio vs two-bedroom place with space for family/friends/”staff”, and decided the cost-benefit of the two-bedroom place was worth it so made an offer.

Although next week is ‘Mentor Madness’ (check out yesterdays post for more), we have a meeting with a TechStars mentor tomorrow so have been preparing for that, including working on possible high-level business models to get his opinion on.

Finally after doing our daily push-ups, sit-ups and squats, we decided that it was worth the investment to get Julie an iMac since we will be here for 6 months – a decision that took a very long time!

Sam: I had a CTO meeting at 8:30, where we talked about the issues CTO’s have apart from writing code – it’s a common misconception that all a CTO does in an early stage startup is write code, whereas in fact it can be quite a small part of the job. After that, I had the awesome surprise that one of the Hackstars (Eduard) had fixed another of the website tasks, fixing a broken (and difficult) animation and finishing a new interface for the mailing list sign-up.

I also made significant progress on the app, fixing up various functionality (the new app is now fully functional, but there’s still more UX stuff to add before it’s user-review ready).

What did you learn?

Charger Madness!

Charger Madness!

Sam: I learnt about Sequence Based Processing, from the context of using it in our Artificial Intelligence / Analysis application. I also saw first-hand the lengths some hackers will go to, to avoid paying Apple any extra money (photo on left).

Quotes?

Someone at TechStars: “Guys – we love you – but you still don’t have a business plan”

Reason why we have not fully developed our business plan yet:

Winston Churchill: “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”

Techstars Day 2: Getting a Foundation.

This is a blog post in a series written during the first fortnight of our participation in Techstars London 2015.

What did you do today?

The crux of the TechStars program is serving as a mentor-driven accelerator. Teams will meet with over 80 people in just 2 weeks – known as ‘Mentor Madness.’ No. Big. Deal. Max Kelly gave our teams and overview on how to engage and work with future mentors ranging from email etiquette, asking for help, and building authentic relationships. It is inevitable that mentors will provide conflicting feedback known as ‘mentor whiplash’ throughout the frenzy of soaking up their knowledge. They warned all the start-ups to understand you will need to decide, synthesize, and act.

The rest of the day was spent searching for a flat across London. We have called so many agents and written about numerous properties, and still remain homeless. We seemed pretty optimistic that we’d be able to get one property – though we are negotiating for a short-term let.

Sam working with Eduard (Hackstar) on the new website

Sam working with Eduard (Hackstar) on the new website

Sam: After flat hunting I started working with two Hacksociates (a group of 5 Associates [bad-ass business gurus] and 4 Hackstars [world-class engineers] who are here to help with our startups) to fix up a few points on our website, including adding a floating ‘modal’ sign-up form, saving users from scrolling all the way to the bottom to sign-up. In the evening, there was some time to continue work on the app, adding a bunch of small user interface features.

What did you learn?

Sam: Cookies have massive value and will be super helpful in bribing various Hacksociates to help with our projects. Also: days go quickly, even 15 hour ones. I’ve been super-mega busy all day and only got chance to write about half the code I had planned.

Quotes?

Advice on how to rally and maintain top level mentors:

“Seriously, just don’t suck at communicating.”

Techstars Day 1: Let the Countdown Begin

This is a blog post in a series written during the first fortnight of our participation in Techstars London 2015.

And the countdown to Demo Day begins …

What did you do today?

Sam and Julie in-front of the TechStars countdown clock

Sam and Julie in-front of the TechStars countdown clock

We strolled into Warner Yard with our two stuffed penguins, hot pink t-shirts, and our MacBooks ready to take on TechStars. After we were introduced to the space and the people behind the scenes to make this program a success, we got a general overview for the next 99 days (a time that’s going to disappear very quickly, as a large count-down screen constantly reminds us!). Basically, we are told to – Do. More. Faster. The next few months are going to be filled with tons of feedback and criticism as our business ideas are ripped apart and put back together. It will be extremely important to be intellectually honest or what is working and not working and establish regular rhythms. Or we are bound to fumble in the start-up journey.

We decided as a company, we’d focus on a few daily non-negotiable:

  1. Daily Standings: Which consist of what you did yesterday, what you need to do today, and any bottlenecks or headlines.
  2. Blog: We are going to commit to writing a post. Every. Single. Day. It is our insider journey through the TechStars program.
  3. Exercise: We must not forget the realities of the world and sacrafic on our bodies – therefore, we are going to do 100’s (or hundo’s) which are 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 calf raises, and 100 lunges. Every day. If you don’t do them – you owe the partner lunch the next day!
On the scavenger hunt, we passed the inspiration for Diagon Alley

On the scavenger hunt, we passed the inspiration for Diagon Alley

The afternoon was filled with a surprise scavenger hunt! Teams were split up into random pairings and given 7 clues to rush around London. The clues were actually much harder than anticipated and we relied on Google. Sam’s team figured out a way to get a free Uber ride and used that to propel them into a running start. Julie, on a different team, ran, literally, all across London as they gathered all of the clues. In the end, neither Julie nor Sam were on the successfully winning team (although Sam’s team did make it back first!). Instead, the team that won actually came in last for the race, but spent a considerable amount of time doing all the bonus points to make up for the lack of speed.

The evening ended with a social as the founders got-to-know each other over drinks and light dinner.

What did you learn?

Interestingly, there were a few points that were made by Max Kelly during his presentation that really hit it home for our team on ensuring we have good communication architecture and brutal honesty with each other.

  1. Point #1: There are most certainly teams that will not be working together at the end of this experience.
  2. Point #2: People may need to move around in their titles as it will continue to be an ebb and flow on learning what is needed and works in the market.

Quotes of the Day

Max Kelly on the experience and us at Techstars

“Get something out of everything, everyday.”

Techstars Day 0: pingWHEN Takes Flight!

This is a blog post in a series written during the first fortnight of our participation in Techstars London 2015.

Welcome to our blog where we will document how pingWHEN takes flight from our participation in the TechStars London Fall 2015 cohort.

What did you do today?

As a US-based company, there was nothing more patriotic that we could think of than jumping on a plane to come across the pond to the United Kingdom on America’s celebration of Independence. On July 4th we began our journey to London for a 100-day accelerator program with TechStars London. We knew we couldn’t start this journey without bringing a few of our cuddle mascots along for the ride (check out how our Penguins took flight across the Atlantic on Twitter).

pingWHEN Penguin in the Airport

pingWHEN Penguin in the Airport

The last 24 hours before our arrival was a complete and utter whirlwind. A few great highlights included just receiving Julie’s passport a day before departure after much stress and anxiety from the UK Consulate. We tried to book into our flight, but there was a technical glitch on the British Airways website and our bookings completely disappeared. Last, Julie from her nostalgia of growing up as a competitor figure skater, wanted to have a last hurrah by going with her friends to the ice rink. Sam continued to warn Julie of the dangers of ice skating – that she could break her ankle and jeopardize her ability to join the program for the first week. We have a joke that our company’s bus number is 1 – which is an indication of how many people from the team need to get hit by a bus for the company to completely fail. As Sam came around towards Julie he took a graceful, but oh so small tumble to the ice, slicing the bottom of his chin open. He was rushed to the emergency room (ER) for 5 stitches. On her way to the hospital, Julie got quite lost and was pulled over for looking ‘suspicious’ until the cop realized that she was just purely lacking in a sense of direction and pointed her off to the hospital.

Sam and Julie in hospital before getting stitches

Sam and Julie in hospital before getting stitches

Arriving into the UK, we are filled with excitement, curiosity, and just amazement that despite all the craziness that we made it — successfully. We arrived to our hotel which we will call home base until we are able to support a living situation. We did a few quick errands such as dropping off our computers to Warner Yard and walking aimlessly around looking for food, though there was a sufficient place to eat literally across the road.

Tomorrow begins the first official day of TechStars and we are excited to see how this journey unfolds. If anything – we will come out with a ton of lessons learned, failures, good stories, and hopefully insane amounts of laughter as we work to build a startup that sustainably helps to empower women to fill safer in their communities.

What did you learn?

We had a few lessons learned for the day:

  1. The US duty free does not contain much selection of alcohol
  2. Julie should have bought an apple computer with her to the UK

Quotes of the Day

Discussion on hiring a pingWHEN ninja to join us for the program:

“Julie, I don’t mean to take the piss – but she seems so young do you think she would actually be valuable and a good worker?” 

“Sam, she is a year younger than you and you seem pretty competent.”

“Good point.”

Carrying stuffed Penguins through airport security

“Excuse me sir, where are you coming from and what were you doing? And why do you have a penguin with you?”