Last week marked the beginning of the FINALIST round of the 2011 MassChallenge Global Startup Competition—the world’s largest startup accelerator. Over the next three months, AltrUHelp and 100+ other startups will compete for a slice of $1.2 million in funding. Each company has been awarded office space in the brand-new One Marina Park Drive through October along with access to lawyers, business mentors, investors, and support staff.
Day 1 of the finalist “Startup Bootcamp” began with Scott Griffith, CEO of Zipcar, discussing the importance of constant personal development, sharing his incredible story of battling cancer while growing ZipCar 8000%. Bill Warner—founder of Avid Technology and inventor of nonlinear video editing—urged the audience to avoid compromise and maintain integrity, offering his own mistakes as evidence.
We also heard from Jeff Taylor, Founder and CEO of Monster.com, who focused on the importance of a few business cliches (“Go Big or Go Home”, “In It to Win It”, “Its a Journey Not a Destination”, and “If its Worth Doing, It’s Worth Overdoing”). Overall, we heard inspirational stories of how these seasoned entrepreneurs founded their companies, overcame their failures, and leveraged their successes to “make it big”.
While day 1 was defined by inspirational speakers, day 2 was much more pragmatic—it was a veritable crash course on marketing. Chris Colbert, CEO of Holland-Mark, emphasized the importance of the “one simple thing” that will draw the attention of potential customers. Howard Kogan of Communispace discussed the importance of listening to clients, and stressed that in a trusted environment clients will literally say anything that companies can use to improve their product and service. Emily Green, prolific public speaker and Chairman of Yankee Group, gave a thorough outline of how to plan, practice, polish and perfect public speaking engagements. Stan Dolberg, Founder and Principal of Carriage House Consulting, taught us not only who trend-setters are, but also how to effectively communicate to them. The day ended with Laura Fitton, CEO of OneForty, who gave us a brief but comprehensive overview of how to manage your startup’s social media presence. Overall, day 2 focused on the need to understand your customers on a practical and emotional level to dominate your market.
Boot camp gave us a rapid primer in running a startup. As new authors on this blog, you may “only” know us as college interns working at AltrUHelp for the summer, but because of Masschallenge, we’ve gotten the chance to learn some of the skills necessary to become successful entrepreneurs!
While week one was jam packed with information and advice, in true MassChallenge style there is always more to be learned. Stay tuned for Week 2: Boot Camp Wrap Up. Let us know your thoughts and questions by posting a comment on the blog!
Connect with the AltrUHelp Summer 2011 Interns via LinkedIn below: