TechStars: Movin' On Up!

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The last three months has condensed a very sharp learning curve into an incredibly short amount of time. By Paige Brown (Co-Founder & CEO, Dashbell)

Where do I even begin? The last three months has been the most challenging, rewarding and of my life. It's been almost four years since I decided to step off the ledge of entrepreneurship and I most certainly have not looked back since. One thing I love about startups is the constant challenge, the severe learning curve and the need to continue to push oneself further. I have earned many battle scars over the last months, the journey has not been an easy one, but I’m being constantly pushed and challenged to begin to act and think like a CEO. It’s a hard transition for any startup to go from a gathering of entrepreneurial-minded people to an organization that resembles something of a real corporation, ready for scaling and quick growth. Some people don’t make it through the transition, and that’s something that you have to come to accept, but as CEO your job is to make decisions and move forward quickly with them no matter how painful.

I mentioned before the constructive workshops that TechStars had us go through at the beginning of the program. I remember one moment of utter despair, staring at our business model of the time and trying desperately to see how it would work with scale. I skipped lunch to sit and think for a couple of hours and with a sick feeling at the pit of my stomach and finally admitted that it wasn’t going to work. We pivoted quickly and moved forward with something that has come to blow any expectations I might have had at the time completely away.

I have seen my team achieve things that most businesses would only dream of, launching a new functioning MVP in only two weeks. This program was not just about the founders, but about growing the team and everyone involved. Everyone on our team has pushed their limits and we have come together to achieve incredible things. Seeing our potential together makes me only more excited about the coming months and years to see what we can build and grow.

I think the biggest realization about TechStars for me coming out the other side is that its not just about getting funding, it's really about getting your business ready and “fundable.”

We now have a clear product that people understand and also builds upon our years of work from before. The strategy, the business model, the assumptions – everything clicks together in a nice package. Our partners are excited and we’ve received an incredible response from investors. We are now ready to build, scale and achieve. We also have an excellent system in place to constantly question and improve our processes and model so we are certain that we don’t go off in a direction that will be detrimental to the business.

One thing I will say to the doubters of TechStars or other incubators is that entrepreneurship is a personal growth path. You may think that your business or your experience puts you beyond the level of advice and guidance that an incubator program might give you, but that can never be the case because we will never be finished learning. What you get from any program like this is relative to your own personal openness to learning and change. Don’t ever expect anything to be handed to you. If you are not open to the feedback and opportunities that come your way you will not acheive, the incubators, mentors and advisors will not do the work for you.

And finally, I am thrilled with the reception that we have had in the Boston startup community. It is not where I expected to end up after my years of wandering. I have been in many amazing communities over the last few years that have all contributed in to my growth as an entrepreneur. I have the most incredible mentors and advisors all over the world. I am excited to see where the next phase of the journey takes the Dashbell team and look forward to having you all along for the ride.

I’m attaching a link to our Demo Day video – the culmination of months/years of hard work and learning. Without all the trials and tribulations none of us would be where we are today, so for anyone just starting this journey – keep your head up and keep on pushing – as a wise advisor once told me four years ago “If you push the pendulum hard enough and enough times, eventually it will break the wall and begin to swing”. And let me tell you, when it does, it feels good, really good.

This post was originally posted at Global Misadventures.

Women 2.0 readers: How have you pushed hard to accelerate your startup's development? Let us know in the comments.

About the guest blogger: Paige Brown is Co-Founder and CEO of Dashbell, a recent graduate of the TechStars Boston program. Previously, Paige spent four years working on startups in the travel industry. She was the first woman accepted into the Start-Up Chile program with her first startup, Tripeezy. She has over six years experience in marketing and strategy. Paige holds an MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. Follow her on Twitter at @sweetcarolinepb.