Written by Michael Burcham
I have many folks ask me: “What’s it like for a startup to come work at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center?" I thought I’d share a few insights.
First, Prepare For Honest Feedback
Expect to get peppered with questions about your team, your model, and your market. The hard questioning, hole-poking, and criticism inside the EC is to make your idea stronger. So I recommend that startups put their egos away and listen, learn, and embrace the questions. Remember, it’s in the EC’s best interest that you change the world too. We want you to succeed!
Next, Expect To Work Harder Than You Ever Have
Sad to say, but I see it everyday with some startups — many aren’t willing to work hard enough to achieve success. They are in love with the idea of starting a business – but lack the self-discipline, the tenacity and the “GRIT” to work through the challenges and hurdles. Turning your dream into a real business takes hard work. At the EC, we will add even more work to your already sizable to-do list. But like anything else, what you get out is based on what you put into the experience.
Finally, Brace Yourself: Your Idea Will Change
One thing is sure, intense questioning combined with hard work (focused on the right things) will change your idea. Your startup will not come out the same as it came in. If you come in with only an idea, you should leave with a prototype and a realistic business model of how you’re going to make money. If you come in with a working prototype, you should leave with validation of the customer needs, a capitalization strategy, and a robust go-to-market plan.
If your only goal in coming to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center is to raise capital, prepare to be disappointed. I have no doubt we will help improve your chance for funding — but your business must be ready for this step. Focus instead on the work you need to do to build your team, design a strong business model, validate your early-adopter market, and get your first customers. Those are the things that make your company more fundable.