Yesterday we had BarCamp #15 in Vilnius and one of the VIP guests was Antti Ylimutka, former Wingman and current Captain of Startup Sauna. I must admit the Wingman title sounded cooler, but I guess Captain sounds #LikeABoss and it’s all that matters, right?
Anyway, I was contemplating saying a few words there, but being an introvert developer lagged. So my Sauna comrade Mawuna beat me to it and following his in vitro fertilization metaphor was kind of hard. So I stayed put and am spilling what I wanted to say here. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I prefer typing on my keyboard to talking to real people. So here goes…
A few months ago I've read an article in Forbes and it had a punchline that said "If you are accepted to an accelerator; you don’t need them." And the reasoning was that accelerators are not charities (even though Startup Sauna is as close as it gets to being a charity). They are basically investors and they pick the teams they believe have the biggest chance of succeeding ... with or without them.
So it got me thinking about the reasons why I applied to Startup Sauna Warmup in Kaunas about half a year ago? Well, I guess the answer is that I wanted some outside validation that what we are doing at AdDuplex is interesting to business minded people outside of our pretty closed developer community. Whether we were invited to the final program or not was secondary to hearing that feedback and being approved (or not) by people who have seen a fair share of startups.
This reminds me of my school/university years. I've been the king of mathematics in my pretty crappy school. Then I went on to study at the faculty of mathematics at the university and guess what? I was one of the dumbest students at math there. So it motivated me to work hard and get at least somewhat decent at it. Something that wasn’t possible without external powers showing me that I suck.
So what I'm getting at is that you can be a super fancy startup founder in your own sandbox, but only by stepping outside of it you can learn your own worth, get hard but important questions about your business and improve your pitching skills. And one of the most cost effective ways for a Lithuanian (or any Baltic/Nordic) startup to get that experience right now is to apply to Startup Sauna warmup in Riga (or any other city). And then if you manage to get an invitation to the final program you can decide if you want and can make the commitment. Well, of course you do, you are not stupid, but think about the warmups first and the real value you are getting from that one single day trip to Riga.
And regarding that "you don't need it" phrase. Sure, you don't need it. "Need" is a desperate word, and you are not desperate, right? So you don't need it, you want it!