Lessons Learned: Week 12

The theme for this week is Extreme Energy!  When an event such as Demo Day is quickly approaching you can feel the energy in our space and everyday interactions. The lessons for this week are relevant beyond Demo Day and overflow to corporate and startup life.

  • Look your best, feel your best: Typical startup attire can vary dramatically if you have ever stopped by the Hartford InsurTech Hub on a Tuesday you will likely see a spectrum of fashion. In preparation for Demo Day, the startups moved from their typical comfort garb to coordinated branded gear, traded sneakers for heels and some pretty sharp suits (even ties). They all shined on stage – fully representing their brands and presenting their pitches with confidence and style.  Special thanks to Morneault’s Stackpole, Moore Tryon for a few new items, alterations, and finishing touches.

  • Surround yourself with supporters: Beginning last week, supporters of the startups began to arrive in Hartford.  Family, friends, co-founders and team members joined us in Hartford lending their moral support.  For those who couldn’t make the long trip, they showed support via Facebook Live Video Streaming (love the Pineapple team from South Africa). We all heard the star of the show Ori from Skywatch’s baby who knows even at a young age how a shout out to your dad from the audience can make a world of difference.  We brought in team members from Berlin, London and Austin, Texas to lend their expertise in a variety of ways this week, Thanks to Alex, Elisa and Andre, who are all part of the global Startupbootcamp/Rainmaking family.

  • Ask for help- As many things need to be done leading up to Demo Day and during the event, it was important that each person played a role and completed it well. As gaps were discovered the startups asked mentors and others for assistance.  Thanks to all the mentors who listened to pitches several times, gave feedback and a pep talk when needed. The startup founders with the highest self-awareness will ask for assistance and realize where they might have weaknesses. Our community came through to help in all aspects of Demo Day, Special thanks to all of our program mentors, event volunteers, and our demo day sponsors (Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP, Insurbot, Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. and Grant Thornton). Thanks for all your high energy and devoted support!

  • Be Authentic– Our energetic keynote speaker Erin Hatzikostas, challenged the audience to be authentic, diverse, balanced and a bit unexpected.  Great advice for a new generation of leaders -our startups. Be yourself. Audiences connect to people when they can relate to their stories, experiences, and emotions.  We may skip part of a presentation that tells our story because we believe the audience might not be interested but it is really the way they remember you. Thanks, Erin for inspiring all of us to lead with authenticity!
  • In case of rain, bring an umbrella– Travelers our partner,  whose team always carry the red umbrella had the largest partner attendance at Demo Day- congratulations and thanks for your support!  The weather might have discouraged a few people from making the trip but thanks to all who braved the weather, jumped over a few puddles or took advantage of the Uber discount sponsored by Grant Thornton.
  • Channel your Stage Fright– Fear of public speaking or Glossophobia impacts 73% of people.  Practice the day before helped the startups but it is different when surrounded by the bright lights and amazing Bushnell’s stage. Each startup had a different way to channel that fear and energy. A few tips that we saw backstage; pacing, pushups, dance moves, fresh air, head rolls, meditation.

  • What is your favorite way to channel your stage fright?  Sabine VanderLinden seems to never have stage or camera fright as seen by her flawless insightful video played at demo day. Maybe we need to ask her for advice? Don’t worry – if you missed Demo Day, watch our video now. 
  • Celebrate the wins- It takes just a few minutes to celebrate when good things happen.  We all need to take a bit more time to say thanks and reward ourselves.   A confetti explosion and a well-timed worm dance by Christie from handii and make all the hard work and dedication of the Demo Day experience worth it. The after party hosted by Ben at UKS allowed some additional connections from supporters and startups to take in the accomplishments of the day.
  • Plan for the future- Demo Day is just the beginning for these startups and their business journey ahead. We are supporting them in their pilots that are continuing and the decisions on Hartford offices and staff. As Michelle Cote of CT Next is always a visionary in looking ahead to what might be next in attracting more entrepreneurial talent to Hartford. We are working to plan our next group of startups and corporate partner focused on Life, Annuity, Retirement and Employee Benefits. Alex Farcet is moving forward with MedTech in partnership with Hartford HealthCare and Trinity. The energy is contagious and exciting, come join us on this journey. As I close out this week’s blog, it is appropriate to use the same quote as our opening speaker Glendowlyn Thames: Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much!