Are we ready for acceleration?
Now that Nuwe has been selected by an accelerator, I’d like to share my thoughts about the process – good, bad, or even ugly.
Not so long ago, I wasn’t sure whether Nuwe would fit into an accelerator programme. Were we too confident of having a ‘killer idea,’ or too immature to fully realise the value of it?
But in the last year the concept of ‘killer idea’ has itself been killed off, and taken over by a ‘lean process’ of figuring out exactly what’s needed in the market. It’s been replaced by a conscious pivotal process, guided by validation.
Validation, validation, validation
Validation: It’s a concept we all get at the beginning of a startup, but one that it takes much longer to master. The fact is that when you are working at your first Minimum Viable Product, you are often so excited and so confident that tend to look for every signal to support your feelings and discard anything does not. Big mistake.
It’s like speculating about a stranger in Starbucks. “She/he is looking at me or not?”
Obviously you will never know until you have the courage stand up and talk to her/him. I think a startup works in the same way: only when you talk to customers can you discover how much your killer idea is welcome or even understood.
The good news here is that once you do it the first time, you break the ice and it becomes a process. Standing up in a coffee shop to talk to someone does not really make you a complete idiot, but instead it can be fun and interesting. In the same way, engaging customers in the early stage of your idea does not diminish it but strengthen it, even if you have to rebuild it from scratch.
Some people get burned very quickly and give up; others embrace the process and attempt to master it. We tried to decrease the validation cycle as much as possible, learn as much as possible, and pivot regularly until we got something valuable, and with potential.
For Nuwe, getting selected for an accelerator may be the most important validation along a very long journey. Two others are:
The product and the strategy
Within the first 30 days of our last pivot we had paying clients inquiries, and we also got accepted into one of the leading European accelerators. I don’t believe in coincidence in life, I believe in pieces of a puzzle coming together.
When you have that first piece in your hand you simply put it on the table. Moving on from that first piece is the hardest thing, but at some point the pieces start flowing together. That’s the time for an accelerator: when you want to complete the puzzle as quickly as possible without losing the momentum.
If you thinking building a marriage is hard, a startup is even tougher. We try to be persistent, adaptable, and hardworking – even though we hit the wall every day. If you hit the wall there is always a reason.
If you can get your team to give priority to the business agenda, to keep on believing even though the signals around you are negative, and more importantly if the team manages to grow stronger in this process, it is another huge validation: we can do it! And if a bunch of very smart people go through the process of screening hundreds of companies to select only ten; when those guys call your name, well…it’s awesome.
The picture below means this to me: if you accelerate in a broken car you are likely to have an accident. But if a car is strongly engineered from the start, it might just win the race. I hope Nuwe is ready be pushed into the future at high speed.