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26 November 2015 by Calan

We've been in TrueStart for a month now and they're busy producing a video to capture how we feel about our experience in the accelerator so far. The interview will be on video but I thought it would be worth a quick post for anyone thinking of applying in future and also as an update on what we've been doing.

Also, if you're a retail or consumer product startup in London and are thinking about joining, by all means reach out to me if you'd like to find out more, or add a comment below and I'll answer your questions and help however I can.

How would you sum up your experience at TrueStart?

We're enjoying it a lot. They have a smart, experienced team who are focused on retail and are available to support us however we need. Also, being around other retail startups is great as you get to share ideas and contacts.

Why did you decide to apply to TrueStart over the other accelerators?

TrueStart is the only retail focused accelerator I am aware of in London. Most other accelerators and co-working spaces I’ve visited are very tech-focused which isn’t right for our business. I also knew a founder from one of their previous cohorts, Vitl, and he had a lot of good things to say about his experience. Also, being based in Victoria, if you live south it’s really convenient.

What appealed the most to you about TrueStart?

The retail network. It makes sense that a retail focused accelerator would be able to help get us in front of retailers quicker than we could do ourselves. There are C-level management from major UK retailers coming through the TrueStart offices all the time for meetings and if our business is relevant we’ll get pulled in to give them a quick elevator pitch. Those types of introductions are invaluable to us. 

What has been the best bit about your experience at TrueStart so far?

3 Things stand out:

  • First, Richard Anson, who is the entrepreneur in residence and founder of Reevoo, is a great business man and really nice guy. He did a Lean Canvas session with us during our introductory 2 weeks and it was really useful. We have the usual long business plan, but distilling it down into the Lean Canvas template is actually very helpful. He also visits the hub every Thursday and we get to spend 1 on 1 time with him to discuss whatever we’re working on. I enjoy these sessions a lot and I really appreciate how he thinks about business.
  • Second, we did a 6 month planning session with Baz, the TrueStart CEO, where we create a month by month plan for what we’re looking to achieve from things such as funding, marketing, product development and staffing, and then connect these to KPI’s so we are tracking how we’re doing. I really enjoyed this and it’s really made me plan how we are going to track literally every type of function in the business.
  • And thirdly, we had a master class with Gabbi Cahane who is all about finding your business purpose, brand positioning and marketing, and he’s awesome. He’s a firehose of energy and ideas and it’s really made me think about how we should position ourselves. We haven’t nailed that down just yet but it means I’m asking a lot of people the right questions.

Tell us about the TrueStart team

  • Harriet is super lovely. I think she’s officially  the community manager but I think of her as the ‘happiness engineer’. She’s always super smiley and enthusiastic and will help you with whatever you need.
  • Andrea is very nice, arranges some of the master classes and sessions. She basically makes me do things, normally it involves making me pitch to whoever is in the boardroom, but it can also involve filming video interviews like this for TrueStart.
  • Thea is lovely. She handles the TrueStart strategic partnerships with companies like Accenture and River Island, and also arranges various pitch sessions. She’s also been organising an intern for us for early next year.
  • Richard is the Loogun ‘guru’. He is strong on finance and legals and we’ll be working with him more in coming months when we start thinking about our next funding round.
  • Baz. I’ve really enjoyed working with Baz so far. He has a really deep understanding of our business and where we’re heading. He’s very strategic and I enjoy his insights into our business and what he requires in terms of tracking KPI’s.
  • Matt and Paul work more on the True Capital side so we spend less time with them but they’re available to make introductions and to pull us into a meeting if there is someone relevant we should meet.

How is TrueStart helping your business?

They’ve actually helped us a huge amount already. On pitch day, which was to about 25 people, we ended up talking to a couple of guys in their network who have ended up investing in our business.

They also introduced us to the founders of Magnitone who True Capital are investors in. They are about 4 years ahead in their journey and have conquered similar challenges to what lie ahead for us. They have already helped us a huge amount and are also just really nice guys and it’s nice to talk to guys in a similar type of business.

We’re also about to start reaching out to retailers and True have a wide network to facilitate introductions that will accelerate face-to-face meetings.

Do you find it useful collaborating with your fellow entrepreneurs?

Yes, I really enjoy it. Starting and running a business is tough, it requires a very broad range of skill. I think a big part of being an entrepreneur is understanding where you have weaknesses and being around so many other smart people means you can chat to them about things you need some help with or where you could benefit from another perspective.

How did you find the application process?

Simple. Fill out a form, attach a deck, and turn up on pitch day. Truestart make their decision  quickly which is nice as it’s not a drawn out process. The pitch format is really quick as you only get 4 minutes to pitch and then there’s a 4 minute Q&A session, so make sure you practice your pitch because it goes really fast.

What’s been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt at TrueStart?

To set targets on all business activity and track them to KPI’s. This probably seems obvious, but it’s easy to not look at your tasks or goals with that level of granularity. As an example, I'd never looked at meeting a certain number of investors every month as a goal that needs to be hit. It is.

Investment. Startups often raise funds too late and TrueStart really emphasize the need to plan your fundraising well in advance. Doing this also gives you the metrics and data points you need to achieve in order to reach the valuation you want to raise money at, so the benefits of that planning extend beyond the money you're looking to raise.

That's all folks

That's about it really. Overall, we're really enjoying being in the hub and we've already had a lot of value from a great team helping us get started. If you have any questions, add a comment below and I'll help however I can.