An Insider Look At Launch Conference (As A Woman-Led Startup)

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From applying to stealth mode, from rehearsals to launch. By Carrie Requist (Co-Founder & CEO, U Grok It)

The LAUNCH Roller Coaster.

They say that doing a startup is like riding a roller coaster.

Nothing captures that as well as being a 1.0 company in Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH conference.

Here’s what our experience was like from the inside, from applying to stealth mode, from rehearsals to launch.

A P P L Y I N G Interested Sad Excited Doubtful Elated We learned about LAUNCH, interested. We applied and heard nothing, sad. Emailed Jason and heard nothing, sad. We applied again and got an email from Megan of LAUNCH apologizing for not getting back to us earlier and very interested in us, excited. We Skype-demoed for Megan and were moved on to the next round, excited. We demoed for Krute and were told he would talk to Jason about us, excited. We had to demo again for Kirin when we were out of town requiring difficult logistics, resulting in our energy being lower when we demoed, doubtful. A week later, we find out we are in, elated!
S T E A L T HM O D E Fear Hope Fear Hope A condition of being a 1.0 company in LAUNCH is that you have to go into stealth mode until you are on stage. So this meant one month of silence right when we were working hard at networking and starting to raise our seed round, fear. But this is an amazing opportunity, hope. But taking down our website and all web references to us, fear. OK, the upside is that we will have a month to be heads down focusing on making progress on the product (and the pitch), hope. We decide the opportunity is greater than the downside of going stealth. This sentence in the LAUNCH contract pushed us over the edge, “we will give you tireless presentation, spiritual, emotional and technical support up until the conference – and for the rest of your professional lives,” hope.
R E H E A R S A L Uncertain Excited Practice Confident First rehearsal is on Skype with Tyler and turns into a great brainstorming session but left us feeling uncertain about our pitch and what was going to work for LAUNCH. We worked hard to incorporate all that Tyler said and a week later flew out to the Bay Area for the first in-person rehearsal with Jason. We got the highest score of the group (9 on a scale to 10). Jason said “cool product and great presenter” and we were over the moon, excited. In the next week and a half before we head to SF for LANUCH, we practice and practice and practice – in the car, the shower, blocking out our on stage movements. Lots of practice. The SF rehearsals went as well as the earlier ones, excited and confident.
L A U N C H Excited Anxious Stoked Concerned Excited Hopeful Disappointed Hopeful The night before LAUNCH we had an amazing angel dinner arranged by Naval from AngelList and Jason – 50 angel investors and 50 CEOs. Lots of great conversations, excited. We are 6th to present, but security for the president of Israel destroys the morning schedule, anxious. We end up going on just before the president and we are finally on stage, stoked. Our panel does not seem to get us the way we hoped although we felt we handled the questions well, concerned. After the presentation, we get our our demo booth for the rest of LAUNCH and we get a ton of great feedback, press and interest, excited. On both days, a member of the grand jury mentions us during the end of the day discussion, excited. Before the awards, an investor asks us, “what are you going to do with all the money you are about to get,” hopeful. We don’t hear our name and don’t get any funding at the event, disappointed. Over the next week we get more press, more interest, more networking and 1,100+ reservations, hopeful.

As we continue to actively seek our seed founding, the shot in the arm from being part of LAUNCH has been awesome!

This post was originally posted at U Grok It's blog.

About the guest blogger: Carrie Requist is Co-Founder and CEO of U Grok It, the smartphone way to find your misplaced stuff, which began in September 2011. Prior to U Grok It, Carrie was in product management and biz dev in a range of high tech companies from established firms to startups. She was the first evangelist for Acrobat PDF at Adobe. Carrie is an MBA with three teen daughters who are learning about entrepreneurship at the dining room table. Follow her on Twitter at @UGrokIt_Carrie.