xEdu has run 4 acceleration programs already and it’s no surprise that lots of startups face the same challenges on their learning journey. Naturally, our mission is to help them on the way and make sure that the startups get the best value out of the acceleration. I’ve heard many times teams saying “I wish I’d thought of this at the beginning of the program!” That is why I want to share these 9 tips on how to make the most out of the xEdu’s 4-month acceleration program (well, basically, of any other program too 😉).
1. Yes, it is challenging and yes, it is supposed to be so
xEdu program is not just a couple of lectures that you can come to outside of your working hours. Yes, in the calendar there are usually 2-4 workshops during the week, but there’s also lots of homework, assignments, events, co-creation processes, mentoring, emails, competitions, adhoc activities and hanging out with your accelerator-mates. Good news is, everything we ask you to do during the program is for your own business and its growth.
And it’s not only about the amount of work! The program really challenges you and makes you look at things from a different perspective. It can be quite overwhelming when you start questioning everything you’ve been doing so far. However, we don’t want to undermine or sabotage your work, but to take it to the new heights. As Peter Abelard put it, “The key to wisdom is this – constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question, by questioning we arrive at the truth.”
2. Do not skip the networking events and get-togethers
When you look at your crazy calendar, you may be tempted to skip the networking events and get-togethers since you think that they don’t bring you any explicit benefits. Wrong! Those are the activities where the magic happens. And when you do come to the Mentoring evening, do not hide in the corner, but talk with as many mentors as you can. The amount of help you will get depends on your own activity.
It is also important to build personal connections with your fellow-cohort teams. You will be spending 4 intensive months with them, so don’t you want to know the people you see almost every day better? Knowing others will make it easier for you to pitch, share information about your business, give and receive honest feedback and ask for advice. Thanks to these events you can build a lasting friendship and a strong network that you can rely on in the future as well. And here to the next tip...
3. Your fellow startups are here for you
Whenever we ask our startups what have they benefitted most from, they always say “the community”. xEdu’s advantage is the industry focus. All our portfolio startups are related to education, and so are our partners, mentors and ecosystem members. You will benefit from both the whole edtech ecosystem and also from the community of the program batch of 10 startups you are accelerating with.
A couple of tiny practical tips for you:
- Interview each other for the Lean Launchpad sessions. You’ll each benefit with an additional interview. 😉
- Like and follow each other on social media! Especially in the beginning, it will be great to get 10-30 more loyal followers liking all your stuff and creating exposure.
Believe me, you are facing exactly the same challenges as the other 9 teams from your batch and tens of alumni companies. Talk to them! Share your experiences! Ask questions! Share useful tips and tools you are using!
This is also a reason why we require physical participation in most activities – only by going through things together you get to create strong bonds with others.
4. Don't panic and come back to your learning materials
We know that there are so many things happening during the program, that you may feel that you don’t have enough time or capacity to internalise new learnings right away. The workshops are coming and going and you feel like you should’ve done things differently now that you’ve learned some more. Hey, we understand! But it’s again a trade-off: maybe a year-long program would be better with all this content? But would you really want to spend a year in an accelerator?
In any case, as the word “accelerator” suggests, we speed things up in a short amount of time. However, when the program is over, you can always get back to the things you’ve learned and repeate them at your own pace.
5. Give feedback — it’s not just words, I do read and act on it
Whenever the Program Manager is annoying you with the feedback link on Trello, please do act on it. I actually read it through and discuss it with coaches. Sometimes we manage to adjust things in the program right away, sometimes it goes on affecting the next program. By giving feedback you make the following programs better the same way as our alumni have done it better for you.
I’m warning you though that we are acting on it, so don’t ask for things you don’t actually want to happen (like “more homework”). 😉
6. You can shape the content of the program yourself — just be proactive
Do you think that the program is lacking a co-creation session between the teams? No problem, we can organise it!
Do you want a WhatsApp group for your batch? Just do it, and we’ll share the word.
Do you have great news everyone should know about? — Tell us and we will spread the word through our channels.
Is there an event you think would benefit others? Just add it to our program calendar.
Hey, we are all for co-creation!
7. xEdu is a startup as well – we sympathise with you
Believe me, we understand your challenges and we are going through them too in the same crazy pace. Don’t hesitate to share your concerns with us, we get it. With this startup mentality, we are able to act, modify, and decide quickly — so keep that in mind.
8. Take full advantage of the perks
xEdu is the first Finnish (and the second in whole Nordics) accelerator company that has joined the global GAN community. What does it mean? — Tons of perks and opportunities for our portfolio companies and it's up to you whether you take advantage of them or not (I recommend you do😉).
Here is a short list of the things you can benefit from:
(for the full set of perks contact me directly)
- GAN Exchange, where you can visit any other GAN Accelerator for up to two weeks.
- Access to over $1M in Perks.
- You can also contact any GAN Partner to do business together via GAN Corporate Connect.
- Access to GAN Ventures for funding. Last year, they invested in eight startups coming out of GAN Accelerators.
- Find a mentor via GAN's Mentor Match.
9. Don’t forget to have fun
“Fun is one of the most important - and underrated - ingredients in any successful venture. If you're not having fun, then it's probably time to call it quits and try something else.” - Richard Branson. Nothing to add to that. K̶e̶e̶p̶ ̶C̶a̶l̶m̶ Get #XcitED!