Weekly Accelerator Updates

Week 10: Prepare to launch!

Week 10 Update

  • Week 9 Recap
  • Pulling it together and prepare to launch
  • Pitching, reprise

Week 9 Recap

In Week 9, we talked about two big topics that will help you build your venture as a standalone business: Fundraising and team. 


We explored funding sources that are relevant for different types of ventures:

  • For every entrepreneur: Explore equity-free funding from competitions, prizes and grants. Look at what the alma mater of each cofounders have to offer, as well as other universities that may offer competitions and grants that are open to all. Government grants are another possible source. A third source are companies and organizations that offer funding to founders and companies like you and your venture.
  • For growth-style startup founders: Familiarize yourselves with the  in’s and out’s of startup fundraising . Stay abreast of market, technology and funding trends by following tech media such as Techcrunch, as well as regional tech coverage such as BostInno and Xconomy. Analysts like CB Insights and Pitchbook often provide great industry overviews in free articles. Also follow content created by relevant accelerators and VCs such as YCombinatorNextview VenturesFounder Collective, Underscore VC and the like.
  • For small business enterprise (SME) founders: Newly created small  businesses that do not fit the high-growth model do not fit the model of VC investments. SME founders need to consider different types of capital. The best source of capital is earned revenue. This requires a deep knowledge of your market and customer, a solid go-to-market strategy, and a revenue model and operational strategy to get you to cash-flow-even in the least elapsed time possible.  
  • For non-profit founders: Apart from the grants mentioned above, non-profit founders might explore philanthropy as a source of cash injection. This includes raising large checks from individuals and foundations and small checks through crowdfunding campaigns. This is not easy – and so, earned revenue remains an excellent source of cash. 


We explored two aspects of building your team: The founding team, and your early employees.

  • To build a winning cofounding team: First, assess whether your team is balanced in the hacker / hipster / hustler distribution. Then, make sure you have the major skillsets and experience bases covered. Last but not least, read Gloria Lin’s 50 questions to ask your cofounder checklist again to make sure your cofounding team is aligned. 
  • To hire and nurture your first employees: Learn how to write a good job description while being flexible about job requirements and hire for talent, not a checklist of skills. Actively define and cultivate a culture that is unique to your venture.

Pulling it together and prepare to launch

This is a great time to review your business fundamentals, and revisit various documents you have created along the way to cross-check your business, and communicate your venture to your advisors, peers and potential funders.

Revise your venture canvas

Whether you chose to develop a business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, Disciplined Entrepreneurship canvas, Mission Model Canvas or other variants, take a few moments to revise it. You will be amazed at how much more you know about your business now versus when you first created your canvas. 

Revise your executive summary

The same goes for your one-page Executive Summary. The progress you have made should help you iterate and uplevel this document.

Make sure you understand your unit and overall economics

While detailed financials are never appropriate to present in the main pitch, it is absolutely paramount that you have solid understanding of your unit and overall economics, so that you can paint a picture of what your venture can become and show your audience a “path to greatness” in terms of impact.

Be sure to revise your revenue models and your 5-year pro-forma income statement. Have that handy as an appendix in case questions come up about your business model, and your plans to arrive at financial sustainability.

Fine tune your venture pitch

You will already have delivered your Demo-Day style venture pitch multiple times. But is your pitch current in terms of what you have learned? Does it incorporate all the feedback you have received along the way?

The process of creating and updating your venture pitch serves the same purpose of the old-style written business plan – only faster and with more reuse opportunities. Be sure to claim credit for all the track record you have developed over the summer.

Check your marketing presence

How are you doing with regards to your basic marketing presence? If someone who does not know you or your venture happens upon any of your digital presence (website, social media and the like), will they form the right impression of you and will they understand what you do and why they should care? Don’t overthink it – just get a basic level of professional presence out in the digital world and build on it over time. 

Pitching, reprise

Pitch Prep

You all have spent the entire summer preparing for your pitches, to get you in the best position for your pitches to be top notch as we go into the final week of programming. As you make your last changes to your pitches, here’s a few reminders to leave you with.

  • Define your ask: You are all at different stages in your early stage venture. Some of you are ready for seed capital, some are ready for growth capital, while some of you are more in need of people (as a resource and/or as an additional team member.) Internalize where you’re at today at this stage of your venture and determine what your ask will be for the audience you’re pitching to. If you need capital, ask for it. If you need advisors or team members, ask for that as well.
  • Be enthusiastic: Come ready to give all of your energy on the day of your pitch! This means you’re clear in articulating your venture and your ask. It also means that you deliver your presentation with a clear voice and clear command of the information you’re presenting. Make your audience believe in your ideas based on your enthusiasm.
  • Be ready to answer questions: You’ve all be training for several weeks now on how to narrow down your pitch to under 5 minutes. The 5 minute metric for presenting your pitch is really focused around challenging you to deliver a compelling presentation that captures the attention of your audience, and then compels them enough to ask you questions after your pitch. If you’ve done a good job communicating your ideas during your pitch, be prepared to field questions after the fact.


Additional Resources

A great reading resource to check out as you move on from your TVA experience this summer and continue to grow your venture, is a book called “Ready, Aim, Fire: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat” by Michael Masterson.

The title may seem a bit overwhelming (or not) at this stage of your venture but the author articulates in clear terms how to take your company from zero income to a successful enterprise, through some time tested principles around team, product development and innovation.