Summer is in full swing at the Leslie eLab! The 6th cohort of the NYU Summer Launchpad (SLP) accelerator is underway and teams are currently defining their customer validation and growth milestones for the 9-week program (more about the teams here).
Only a few days into the program and we’ve already welcomed 10 amazing guest speakers, 35 entrepreneur mentors, and 22 investor mentors to work with this cohort. Startup founders and experts from venture capital, law, and accounting firms participate throughout the program and enable NYU entrepreneurs to learn from founders who have been in their shoes and/or startup experts who have worked with hundreds of companies at similar stages.
Here are 3 things we’ve learned from external speakers so far:
“The best board meetings are the ones where the CEO reports on key metrics/milestones and then brings up 1-2 critical topics where they are struggling and need help.” -Alex Iskold (Courant ‘00), Managing Director of Techstars NYC
Each SLP team has their own board of investor mentors who they work with throughout the summer. During his session on “Managing Boards,” Alex Iskold advised teams to hold focused investor meetings by sending board materials and communicating the agenda in advance to make the meetings as productive as possible.
“When in doubt, trust your gut.” -Nihal Parthasarathi (Stern ‘08), Co-Founder of CourseHorse
Mentors, advisors, investors, and friends will constantly share solicited (or unsolicited) advice to founders on how they should run the company. Nihal Parthasarathi shared that, “All advice you will receive will be broad. Advisors will very likely contradict one another. Your gut instinct is what you should follow. If your gut is wrong, you will learn and your instinct will become better.”
Iterate, iterate, iterate! -Dennis Crowley (Tisch ITP ‘04), Co-Founder of Foursquare
The early days of Foursquare involved testing the product on friends every night - taking feedback - and returning back to the “office” (aka kitchen) to refine it until it worked. Dennis Crowley advised SLP teams to test their prototypes with users while making iterations and improvements based off of early feedback.
We expect that teams will put these lessons into immediate action. During the second week of the accelerator, teams will meet with their dedicated advisory boards and participate in a design sprint. Stay tuned for future insights throughout the summer!