Growing a startup is like building an airplane while in flight, and in a rural state you get to build the airport and runway too!
Cerahelix is located in what is known as an “underserved” rural area. One of the best ways we’ve found to raise our profile and meet investors and corporate partners is by participating in accelerators. This is why six months ago we headed to where the action is- Silicon Valley- to participate in the Plug and Play New Materials and Packaging Startup Accelerator.
At first glance life at Plug and Play (PNP) was remarkably like life in our tech incubator in Maine– people working all hours, excellent coffee, and dogs in the workplace.
However, once we entered the PNP “Deal Flow” room things really started to take off. Essentially, the more we spoke to the companies visiting PNP and attended events held at the center, the more we were asked to “come upstairs” and pitch to prospects. The prospects included a wide range of global companies, consulting groups and pretty much anyone who came by PNP looking to learn about new and exciting technologies.
In addition to connecting us with key corporate partners, PNP also brought in excellent mentors- presenters who focused on the kinds of issues that B2B startups face like how to work efficiently with large corporations. These included soft skills like writing an email that a busy corporate executive will (a) read and (b) forward to the right person in their company. There were also more interactive sessions where they coached us on how to pitch to corporate innovation teams. The key is to remember that while you, the entrepreneur, are in full on “warrior” mode, the group from the large corporation is in the more relaxed “explorer” state. You need to calm down and meet them halfway.
The final weeks of the PNP experience were spent working on our pitches as we prepared to get on stage at Expo day. This was the best part for Cerahelix as not only did we give the winning pitch in the New Materials and Packaging section, but we also attracted investment for the round we were raising. All in all the Plug and Play Accelerator was a great experience and we now have a home base for future forays to Silicon Valley.