Back in July, we've got selected to be part of the first cohort of StartupBootcamp IoT Connected Devices in London. Out of more than 400 teams that applied they selected 20 and after a super tough selection process. Woogie was one of the 9 finalists that moved to London in October to accelerate their journey to market.
Experiencing an international accelerator's ups & downs is really something worth sharing with teams and entrepreneurs, with innovators and supporters or just people around us that are wondering what we've been up to in London.
This is not about the workshops we attended or the contacts we made. All that was important and took us where we are now. But how we've changed on the inside is what really will follow us forever.
Everything changed. And Woogie was ready to face all this.
From the first time we arrived in London, a super sunny day that blew my mind and my sunglasses, since today, a usual rainy day that makes my happy raincoat happier, everything changed. And I’m happy to say out loud that this change means improvement:
- My relationship with Bogdan, the person who I've moved to London with, changed: we’re even a greater founders team now
- My team energy, currently operating from Bucharest, Romania, has changed: we’re more confident and powerful now
- Woogie has changed: not only he’s both funnier and smarter, but he knows clearer what he wants and how to get there
I'll get a little personal now, but here is how my brain literally changed over these months:
“Oh my God, we’ve got selecteeeed! 4 months in London!!!” (July, last day of SBC Selection Days)
“Aaaaaa! We’re in London, this is just amazing!” (October, at the end of the 1st day in London)
“Oh dear, this is exhausting already...” (late October, 3 weeks after program started)
“Hmm, I kinda like this waaay-too-challenging-and-accelerated journey” (November, almost everyday)
"Let's go, let's do it! C'mon life, what do you have for me today?" (December, every morning)
“Oh, yeah! We nailed it! Aliens are just the best” (late January, walking down the stage at Demo Day)
And here I am today: “Not going anywhere without closing the first round! Beware, London! Aliens are staying!”
When challenges make you stronger, instantly.
Living in London for a few months requires some compromises, of course, but I feel that those compromises are related to the entrepreneurial journey that I’ve chosen to follow. I personally perform best when I am out of my comfort zone, when I do things that I’ve never done before, that challenge my brain and then fill my body with joy and confidence. Probably it’s just my strategy of getting better and better every day, and if this means to make compromises as well, I’m fine with that.
Definitely being away from my life in Bucharest was a pain in the… well, unpleasant :) Missing relationship, family, and friends it was super challenging for me, emotionally speaking. But it turned out to be a good thing, not only because it helped me focus and dedicate all my energy to Woogie, but it taught me how to manage my emotions, how to become stronger, and how to appreciate them better (and how to enjoy them more when getting back together). Having a constant support from your beloved ones really makes you get over whatever hard moments and focus, focus, focus.
But distance doesn't only affect you on a personal level. In the first two months managing the team remotely was a constant problem that we were rising in our weekly catch up meetings. It turned to be that we just needed this time to get used to it because it all transformed into something which now we call a strong team connection. We did small, constant, but important steps to finding our way here, every day. What really helped in this process was bringing, one by one, all the team members here to experience the accelerator and London vibe, to understand the level at which we play now and... to align.
And so did they, and I’m so grateful and happy to still have them onboard and engaged! Woogie has such an ambitious team!
people help the people to find their balance
But there were some good things, too. Meeting and working in the startup ecosystem with people from different cultures was just the best part of the Bootcamp experience. We were 9 teams from 6 different countries, working in the same amazing offices at IDEALondon.
We've been experiencing together frustrations and achievements, birthday celebrations or holidays away from home. And those small things like sharing from lunches to late night beer-business talks in the office with people from different cultures is very powerful and inspiring. It’s amazing how much we’ve supported each other, on both personal & professional levels.
Two weeks before Demo Day it was incredible how we all acted like a team helping each other, and not like separate teams in a context of a competition. We were practicing the pitch together until late at night, giving feedback and learning each other’s scripts and body language. We were building prototypes in the messy lab, downloading apps & test our products, photo shoot the latest 3D models or just taking each other out for a beer to clear our minds.
Is the people that you experience all this with, who you will remember from the program. This is how it goes for me.
things that they will never tell you about an accelerator
Being part of an acceleration program, we really needed to accelerate ourselves. Both thinking and acting required speed, agility, and spontaneity. In between this two we have the decision making which was a big step that I personally took: I moved from thinking too much about “should it be left or right? which one is potentially better” to taking decisions instantly and just take full responsibility for that. So learning how to be comfortable in taking decisions super fast, made a big difference in how we approach things now.
And then living in London.... The hardest thing I assume is to manage to be in the right places. It’s so much happening around you when you’re in London, that sometimes it’s just hard to evaluate properly what is worthed and what isn't. You feel like you just have to be everywhere, because there are tons of opportunities out there, and you know it. This just makes you feel tired at some point because you really can’t be everywhere :)
Here are my top 3 unseen parts of my experience in an accelerator program. A serious one.
Too much advice can get you confused, even lost. But not if you have a great founder that works constantly with keeping you on the right track, reminding you about our vision and that YOU own the best decisions for YOUR product.
You become a late night owl and an early morning bird, both at the same time. What happens is, if you are truly committed, you just forget to leave the office, and even so, you wake up at 6 AM with no alarm and no other reason than “let’s get this thing done!”
There is always a Big Brother who’s watching you. And you never know who plays this role, so you have to be smart and sharp, ask the right questions, give the honest answers. Every day, no exception. And at one point, this will make a huge difference in your journey.
this experience shaped us as humans and reshaped our business to work
If you experience something like all the things described above, you will find out if you are a perfect match for this project. By challenging yourself on so many levels, you will find out sooner or later if the path that what you chose is the best one for you. And this is helpful for the business, too, and for the world, in general.
In no particular order, I will itemise the things I’ve gain during these months spent in London: friends, self-esteem, validation that we can do this (and so much more), strength, potential life-changing partnerships, an accelerated pace, insights about the UK market, insights about myself and about my team.
I find all this crucial for Woogie's success, and I'm sure that once we've gained all this, there is no way will not going to make Woogie the coolest AI robot that makes learning and discovery fun for children around the world.
We're in London now. Partially. If you're here too, and you want to join our #aliens team in the next big milestone we call #crowdfunding awesomeness, there are a lot of things that you can give a hand with. You'll get to experience the extraterrestrial ride from the inside.
We're currently looking to engage designers, copywriters, and influencers to enhance Woogie's awesomeness in the humans' eyes.
Just tweet @hiwoogie with your thoughts. Cheers!