Firsthand Perspective: FounderFuel Accelerator

Adam Perkins is a Madison entrepreneur who was part of the InfoActive team as they traveled to the FounderFuel Accelerator in Montreal. InfoActive was formed out of the Startup Weekend Madison event earlier this year. Adam shares his experience at FounderFuel now.

FounderFuel (The Montreal based startup accelerator modeled after Techstars) was an amazing experience, no questions. I’ve always dreamed of being part of an intense business accelerator with like-minded people. The company I went there with, InfoActive (We make data beautiful and interactive. Think interactive infographics. Example: Salaries Around the Globe), was born out of a concept from Startup Weekend not two months before we left. It has been a rollercoaster ride the past three months, learning and accelerating the business.

The most important aspect of the experience was the personal education. Going into the program I was new to software startups and assuming nothing, was very helpful. Keeping an open mind when speaking with entrepreneurs, executives, mentors, and investors in addition to listening to the numerous education sessions they had planned, let me absorb everything. We learned about their experiences and how they’ve succeeded and also failed. On average we had about two learning sessions per week with renowned speakers from all over the world and met with mentors daily.

Because FounderFuel was run by a seed stage VC firm (Real Ventures) in Montreal we had the opportunity to work with the partners directly, day in and day out. They see hundreds of companies a year and we had their distilled experience, educating us what works and what doesn’t. They had a tendency to be very ‘real’ with many of the teams.

Honest, brutal, critical feedback is vital for honing any business and FounderFuel gave it. At times I thought teams would break-down, drop-out, or walk-away from the barrage of almost daily input. However, all the teams took the criticism to heart, made changes, and kept moving forward. Everyone came out stronger because of it.

We accelerated. Our three months there was worth twelve going it alone. Every available moment was cannibalized to advance the business. We had an amazing mentor network providing us with connections to early customers, potential employees, other entrepreneurs, conferences, and more. The intense feedback focused us to a single, effective point, allowing us to test and fail quicker. Our peers generated a competitive yet cooperative environment pushing everyone up and forward. Meeting with dozens of investors allowed us to understand their mindsets and start developing relationships. They also had 16 cases of redbull available
every month. It usually lasted six days.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, get yourself to a world-class accelerator program. The three months packed with education, hustling, and experiences which will change you in ways you cannot imagine. It will make you a better entrepreneur but you have to be open to the experience. I can’t wait to do it again.