My company Piggybackr was one of 11 companies that emerged from AngelPad's spring 2012 class. Female founders should apply - applications close this Sunday, July 22, 2012 so apply now! By Andrea Lo (Co-Founder & CEO, Piggybackr)
AngelPad was started in 2010 by a group of ex-Googlers committed to helping technology companies succeed during some of their most formative periods pre-funding. Founder Thomas Korte had been angel investing for some time and wanted to get even more involved with his companies. In a few short years, AngelPad has climbed to be ranked the #4 global incubator by Forbes and has helped companies raise over $25 million in funding.
When we got into AngelPad, I had already been working on my company full-time for 4 months.
A key turning point occurred at the Women 2.0 PITCH conference where I hunted AngelPad's Thomas Korte down, introduced myself and reminded him that my team Piggybackr had submitted our application. Making that direct contact was key - thank you Women 2.0!
Here are 5 reasons why I found my experience completely worthwhile:
- A network of down-to-earth founders.I have no doubt that all the people i've met through Angelpad, past, present and future will be mover and shakers in and out of the tech community (if not already). While founders ranged in age (from fathers of newborn twins to recent college graduates), background (from Google engineers to ex-bankers), and industry (from cloud computing to education), one thing was clear: every single person, no matter how accomplished, was incredibly down-to-earth and willing to help each other out.
- You get close.
Throughout the 10 weeks, we worked out of the same office space in San Francisco. We discussed struggles over countless slices of pizza, shared resources, and emerged as friends. Working together physically in the same space was critical to building strong bonds in such a short-time, especially in an age when no one has free time anymore.
Beyond my own class, alumni were also a tight-knit and helpful bunch. There were alumni, whom I met just once, who bent over backwards to reach out, help make connections, and teach us what they had learned. Starting a company can be incredibly isolating because oftentimes most people don't understand what you're going through.
No matter how many blog posts or TechCrunch articles you read, there are a lot of things you'll never be told until you do it. Having a close group of peers is critical.
- A lot of 1:1 time with mentors.
I loved that our class was small. Not only did we get close, it gave us more time with mentors. Thomas Korte would meet with every single company at least once a week for upwards of 1 hour each. During these sessions, he went out of his way to challenge us to be the best we could be, ask tough questions we didn't always have answers for, and work with us.
Together with his wife and AngelPad partner, Carine Magescas, they fed us, clothed us (great swag!), sheltered us and taught us. It was clear that they wanted every single one of us to succeed and put the time into getting us there. Beyond these one-on-ones, we also had a vast network of allies which included many of the who's who in Silicon Valley at our finger tips for lectures, calls, and private one-on-one feedback sessions.
- Get challenged to rethink everything.
Though Piggybackr had spent several months prior to AngelPad doing customer development, building a prototype and getting our first users, there were moments during the program where I felt like we were back at square one re-evaluating the very assumptions our entire business was built upon. It was difficult at the time, but was hugely important to take a step back early on to evaluate whether you're building a big company that has disruptive potential.
- The only choice is to accelerate your company.
AngelPad is not for everyone. If you want people to pat you on the back and tell you you're good, then it's not for you. But if you are a founder committed to building a successful and scalable technology company (not suited for lifestyle companies), willing do whatever it takes, adapt to feedback, and focus on moving forward through all the ups and downs, then it's hugely helpful.
Here's a chance to accelerate your potential to impact millions of people, address an underserved market, and show others why you're the one to execute on it. Apply for the next AngelPad class - applications close this Sunday, July 22, 2012.
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Andrea Lo is Co-Founder and of Piggybackr, a fundraising platform that teaches young people how to raise money and connect with sponsors by using technology and business skills. She has been fundraising since she was 7 years-old. Andrea speaks on topics of youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and fundraising. She is a recent graduate of the AngelPad accelerator, a mentorship program founded by Thomas Korte and other ex-Googlers to help startups. Follow her on Twitter at @andreatlo.