The winner of Superhero Capital’s investment shares their story on how they survived Startup Sauna.
The dream team
At Dripit we help e-commerce marketers understand the true value of marketing channels. We are a team of three who have worked together before, having had small victories and huge failures. We started Dripit in the beginning of 2016, just a couple of months after we failed with our previous startup, Reach.ly. We applied to Startup Sauna with the second iteration of our product and we’re eager to hear some honest feedback on it. Below are some of our insights from the 5 weeks we spent in Helsinki.
Getting the most out of 5 weeks on a hot bench
Be open minded. Entrepreneurs are passionate about their ideas, which is great, since that’s the fuel needed for them to succeed. Sometimes passion turns into protectiveness which is not healthy. In our team we agreed upon a single rule before the program started and it paid of. Rather than being protective about our product, we were to listen, took notes and discuss them afterwards with the team. During the program we even received opposite feedback and directions where we should go. From “you are on a good track” to “I’ve seen this failing and you should look into this or that”. And it sometimes happened within a couple of hours.
Take notes. We failed on this during our first week. There are so many things to remember – videos to watch, articles to read, emails to reply, directions to look into and form opinion. Without taking notes it just becomes “I recall we talked about this but I haven’t followed-up on this!”. That’s bad and it makes bad impression. You are not doing your homework. Being prepared, having a formed opinion, and fixing mistakes is what makes a good impression. Take note!
Experiment. You have 5 weeks of exposure to various people with different experience and background. Seize the moment! If you meet a coach one week later and haven’t changed a thing in your pitch, product, market niche, it’s unlike that the person has anything new to offer (feedback, ideas, introductions), than a week ago. We changed our pitch deck every week. Sometimes, it led to a crappy pitch or nonsensical gibberish. But afterwards we knew more about what sticks to people’s mind and helps them better understand what and how we are doing.
Pitch. In this part of the world (Scandinavia, Baltics, former USSR) people are overly humble about the stuff they do. Engineers and coders are not used to selling their products or getting on stage. When you’re a small team, it’s crucial that each and every one can tell a story about the product you are building. Public pitching helps get there. In our team, everyone pitched at least once. I was pitching most of the time but also our data guy Normund and backend developer Kristaps pitched. It helped to shape our final pitch.
Network. Get to know other teams and hang out with them. We lived close to Startup Sauna and spent a lot of time at the premises, which allowed us to get to know some of the teams better than the others. They gave their personal feedback on our pitch, product and also introductions. It’s comfortable to hang out with people you already know or with whom you share the same language but it also means you are not creating opportunities for new connections.
Helsinki is quite an expensive place to live. Food, accommodation and transportation are the three main expenditures on your balance sheet. We were able to minimize our expenses by having an Airbnb flat close to Startup Sauna. It removed necessity to commute and we could prepare food at home or at Startup Sauna’s premises. Since we’re preparing food at home we could save a significant amount of money.
As my fellow co-founder Kristaps put it – it was like an intense course in entrepreneurship which puts your brain in the right mode. As our team we lived together for 5 weeks 24/7, it also shaped our team culture. Startup Sauna is well suited for startups from Baltics and rest of the Eastern and Northern region as Finns know very well how to work with crude technical talent who need marketing and sales knowledge. Go for it!
Ps. And yes, we also got an investment from Superhero Capital in the end.
Pps. If you have got any questions regarding our experience, just shoot me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ppps. If you want to experience Startup Sauna’s treatment yourself, the applications for the fall ‘16 batch are open at http://startupsauna.com/apply.