Resident Guest Blog: HeavyConnect Completes 500 STARTUPS Accelerator
Posted on November 04, 2016 09:21 AM by WGCIT
By Patrick Zelaya
CEO of HeavyConnect
We received the news that our application to 500 Startups, and interview process, had been approved during the Forbes AgTech Summit here in Salinas back in July. It was one of the most exciting days our local team of four had shared to date. None of us had participated in a program like this, and it would expose HeavyConnect to a larger tech audience in Silicon Valley. We were grateful for the attention, but also aware that we were entering the major league of startups with all the excitement and hard work that came with it.
The four-month accelerator program went by quickly. We had one team member, Rivka, working out of the San Francisco office full time while the rest of us stayed in the Salinas Valley working on the product and spreading the word. The program was packed with valuable presentations every day on how to grow the business, and we learned it is much easier to move quickly when you do it as a group of startups.
Many of Batch 18’s companies were led by veteran startup founders who were working on their 2nd or 3rd idea, after having success on their initial business ideas. These folks provided a source of “best practices” that gave all of us rookies an edge. Every startup was very supportive of each other and the individual company goals started to mix and become shared goals of the batch. There was tremendous energy around overcoming obstacles and accomplishing the hard work of starting a company.
User data is very important to a startup. Understanding how your customers use your product helps startups understand what the customer is thinking, and what functionality would benefit them. Especially when the only interaction with customers is through the computer. We found that we were different in this regard. We are fortunate enough to have close relationships with our customers. We don’t have millions of users, but when we need to know what product functionality they need, we just drive out to the ranch and ask them. The mentors at 500 Startups were unfamiliar with this proximity to the target market so we continued to forge our own path on user feedback.
It was an extremely valuable learning experience for the HeavyConnect team; we are much further along our path than we would have been without the program. We look forward to continuing to grow our product value and customer base by putting the things we learned at 500 Startups to work.