By Yvonne Hofstetter, CEO
For some CEOs from all over the world, today was a date to remember. Being part of the February 2021 startup cohort, they successfully completed Newchip’s seed program for startups and were awarded the full designation of a Newchip graduate today.
Newchip’s passion are entrepreneurs
Newchip is a Texas-based accelerator targeting startups from all over the world. Mission: Newchip helps startups to succeed by providing them with all tools and skills necessary to fund, build, and scale. Certainly, the focus is on fundraising. Is mission accomplished? Because an accelerator is a business model and not the Salvation Army. Let’s review the past six months till date.
January 2021: How it all started
I do not remember exactly how 21strategies came across Newchip – or vice versa. The Newchip team is scouting the startup ecosystem actively, inviting them online to apply for the program. Once identified as startup with potential, the CEO will deliver a short pitch. If she gives a great pitch early, her chances are high that her company is being accepted to the program which fits best – Bootcamp, Pre-Seed, Seed or Series A. 21strategies was participating in the Series Seed program.
As often in the US, education is tuition-based. A startup should prepare for an additional $5,000 sales/marketing budget for accelerator participation, because fundraising – the very core of Newchip’s mission – is what it is: selling a startup.
A comprehensive curriculum provides everything CEOs need to know about startups
To make a long story short: I found the program worth every dollar. All started with an extensive curriculum covering all sorts of topics relevant for running a startup business. Starting from Lean Canvas to Exit, the curriculum covers all topics required to understand a startup’s life cycle. It may very well be that serial entrepreneurs are familiar with all these different aspects and process steps, but it is of great help to find them all structured and well-documented in one online accessible place. The curriculum contains also video classes, and often it gave me a good laugh watching the Newchip veteran founders talking about the one or other familiar challenge in quite a buddy type of way. So are the boys. Good we have them.
A program that makes people happy
Laughter, good point. The big goal of the program is to make the investor ecosystem accessible to startups and, in the very end, to connect startups with investors who can provide the right funding. No funding round is easy. In fact, fundraising is hard work. Set-backs occur all the time, and CEOs need a thick skin. But while participating in the Newchip accelerator, I always was in good mood and equipped with great confidence. While my co-founders and existing investors watched me with doubts that the effort and time I spent with Newchip was exaggerated, my spirit was elevated all the time, thanks to Newchip – despite the 147 times I amended the deck and the 168th version of our one-pager. I learned in-depth how my company was perceived by the outside world. This market feedback was terrific for our corporate positioning. I simply had to factor it into our documentation.
Supported by lead generation tool Sofos
Then there is Sofos. Sofos is a software for lead generation. Newchip is taking care that each startup CEO is being assigned a campaign manager who is defining the fundraising campaign using Sofos. Classifying potential investors in certain regions of the world, Sofos is sending out hundreds of mails to potential prospects. Once the connect is established, the CEO must follow up the conversation. This is very time consuming – I therefore followed my campaign manager’s advice to assign the communication handling to our marketing department. However, Sofos connected me with countless friendly, happy, and valuable contacts from all over the world contributing advice, feedback, and comments to our fundraising documentation. C. 100 of them made it to our fundraising CRM, and while I graduated today, I am in contact with the shortlisted ones discussing funding. The campaigning with Sofos is the blueprint for a structured sales process and cold calling success. I learned a lot from it.
Video geek? Try Online Demo Week
A highlight: Newchip’s Online Demo Week. A startup furnishes a 9-min video pitch to be watched online by the Newchip investor ecosystem during demo week. It takes the Newchip IR team a few weeks to follow up and connect a startup with potential investors. From there, it is up to startup and investor to connect and to take the fundraising further.
The most valuable program outcome: Meeting respectful people
Last not least: Newchip has a remarkably helpful team. It is the US spirit which is so well known for outstanding service, and the Newchip team lives it every day. Every CEO is being assigned a mentor – mine was outstanding in fit and knowledge. It is clear we will remain connected, and there are plans for a US go-to-market strategy where my mentor can play a serious role – beyond Newchip, beyond this current fundraising campaign.
In the past six months, I made new acquaintances. I met peer CEOs, I met lovely Newchip staff, I met investors, all of them with great minds and deep respect for 21strategies. With those I had several touchpoints, I will stay connected and move on with them. Newchip, that was a happy experience for me. Let me cite my CTO’s words he spoke some hours ago: “I am frightened of Graduation Day today. Newchip shall be history from today? What will this do to your mood? They lifted you up every day…”. Newchip, you are still there in Austin, Texas – all things are great in Texas. Let’s stay great friends.
I want to give special thanks to:
Uma Sinha, New York, greatest mentor of all
Armando Vera Carvajal, VP Product at Newchip and cohort manager
And the Newchip IR team: Aliya Friedman, Trevor Brown, Laura Casey, Aeryn Cagle, Alex Herschmann, and Phil Tran.