So you apply to an accelerator program, get accepted and fly out to San Francisco knowing you’ll be in startup bootcamp for 3 months without really knowing what to expect. Sound familiar?
Last week we had a great time meeting our 2016 cohort and diving right into Fast Forward’s transformative 13-week accelerator. One of the strengths of Fast Forward’s program is that we create a community of tech nonprofit founders, cultivating valuable, experience-driven knowledge sharing.
To give our 2016 teams a real taste of what Fast Forward is all about, we brought in two of our alumni, Kiah Williams, co-founder of SIRUM, and Jared Chung, Founder of CareerVillage.org, to candidly share insights around challenges overcome and ways they leveraged their time at Fast Forward to get the most out of it. Here are some of their top tips:
- Form relationships with each other and socialize. Community is key.
- Some of the biggest value comes from stuff you wouldn’t have expected, like finding out who someone else uses for accounting or task management. It’s soft stuff that’s true for any startup but especially being a nonprofit in the startup space, you have to be creative. Administrative duties like hiring, payroll, and accounting are all on you.
- Use Kevin and Shannon as much as possible. Tell them if something doesn’t work for you and be open with feedback. Go to Shannon for fundraising questions, and seek out Kevin’s expertise on business models and operations.
- Mentoring sessions are valuable. Even if you meet with someone who doesn’t have expertise in your immediate vertical, use this as an opportunity to bounce different pitches off of them and get their feedback.
- Use mentor meetings as opportunities to establish relationships with people you may never otherwise meet. Ask them questions about themselves, their interest in Fast Forward and their networks. Even if they aren’t experts in your particular field, their connections might be.
- Be as open as you can about everything. Everyone is here to help you and you’ll get more out of the program if you are honest about your progress and where you need help.