Inside Batch 25 at 500 Startups
Guest Post: Rishika Jhamb is the Marketing Lead at Alluva. Under no circumstances should any of the below content be construed as legal, tax or investment advice from 500 Startups or any of its affiliates.
Alluva at 500 Startups: What it was really like being a part of Batch 25
In March of 2019, Alluva was accepted into Batch 25 of 500 Startups.
As part of the founding team at Alluva, my thoughts ranged from excitement at the incredible learning opportunity to worry about how challenging 500’s batches were rumored to be.
The outcome was that it was both – and when you’re at Demo Day, you’re going to be grateful to the part that’s ‘too challenging’.
What Alluva is about
But 500 had other ideas!!
When we started, we were focused on making Alluva user-friendly, getting more people on board, and improving the stats of our web app. Our vision is to make Alluva the biggest global analyst marketplace, which allows analysts to get into the field at no cost in exchange for earnings and followings. At the same time, it gives large data companies, financial houses, and media companies a predictive outlook on market movements, allowing them to see tomorrow’s prices, today.
Telling analysts around the world that such a marketplace exists and getting them to try it out was just Step 1. But one week in, it became pretty clear that Step 1 wasn’t going to go at a comfortable pace. Demo Day was in four months. Which meant that we had four months to get to a point where the audience, individual analysts, data companies, and investors could see Alluva from our point of view – as the marketplace and predictive insights provider it is going to be.
That went much beyond Step 1, and a lot of this was going to be about marketing and client engagement. Given that that was my area of focus at Alluva, I was especially excited about 500 Startups, what it would teach me, and how it would improve everything we’d planned.
What you expect versus what you get
The lessons, mentorship, guidance, and insights you get as part of a 500 Startups’ Batch is widely known. You get office hours with experts, talks on topics specific to growth, fundraising, and other aspects of running a startup, mentoring, and help with finetuning your funding pitch among others.
What you get, though, is very different than the simple picture that that knowledge paints.
One-on-One Weekly Reviews:
Every week, you sit down with your assigned mentor and he/she will more or less give you a lesson in why you’re doing things wrong. Harsh? Yes. But that’s the point. We walked out of some of those meetings feeling like we had no idea what we were doing. But that forces you to think harder, more creatively. And you find yourself going way beyond the objective, big picture view you thought was right. You get real objectivity, see things like never before, and make changes that give you the outcome you really desire. That applies equally to making a product that customers actually like and to speaking to your customers in a way that they actually reciprocate. That is the critical outlook that helped us greatly improve Alluva’s engagement and helped us design an interface that our clients wanted to see.
It’s not all tough love at 500 though. The mentors and staff at 500 understand the struggles of startup life and work because they’ve seen a lot of people dealing with it and have, in most cases, done it all themselves too. That is what makes them tough on you, but also compassionate and understanding. Very often, you get to see the softer side of your mentors – where they share tips and suggestions on how to handle stress and work chaos, where they tell you to occasionally take a breather and appreciate everything that you have done instead of only focusing on improvements required, and where they remain just an email away to help you out with inputs that solve hindrances you may be facing. Another thing that definitely helps is that the people at 500 understand the importance of relaxation, which is why Friday evening catchups with the entire batch are a weekly event. Not only do you get to relax and unwind after a long week, you also get to have casual conversations with your batchmates as well as mentors; you get the chance to address issues that go beyond your tasks and goals, so as to boost your energy and find greater positivity in your outlook.
Network and Global outlook:
As part of 500 Startups, you receive access to a host of investors and experts, but that is not the only network that you enter. 500 Startups is a family, made up of those that run the company itself, and all the startups that have graduated from their batches. Once a part of 500, always a part of 500 – that is a motto that is followed diligently by everyone who’s been part of 500. Discussions with older batchmates, sharing of perks, networking for resources, sharing relevant information, reaching out for feedback and beta testing – it’s like a micro-ecosystem of the global market, and it’s right at your fingertips for you to participate in, and rely on too. That gives you insight that can influence your very approach. Being able to speak to people with different viewpoints that are influenced by culture, geography, background, their own ventures and more, makes you take a much greater international stand such that your startup is geared for growth from the get-go.
For instance, understanding how different geographies and industries look at a specific disruptive tech (like crypto or blockchain) was crucial to our messaging. Similarly, the numerous discussions on crypto and blockchain with other batchmates from around the world, was instrumental in a change in our roadmap. While we had always planned to add different asset classes to the app, discussions with other batchies played an important role in showing us that we needed to move up these plans, and turn our focus away from adding more cryptoassets as initially planned.
Most importantly though, 500 Startups manages to give you an incredible amount of clarity. Clarity on your own actions, on your product’s feasibility, on your marketing and sales plan, on the way you approach your business growth, and on every large and small aspect of the startup journey – personal and professional.
These are hard truths that don’t come easily to you when you’re part of a startup because you get so caught up in daily business. These are the smaller victories that you often overlook, allowing your thoughts to focus only on upcoming goals and unintentionally stressing yourself out. 500 gives you the ability to take that necessary step back and see everything that you need to do, but also everything that you have already achieved.
The many sessions and activities that run for four whole months as part of a Batch at 500 Startups will leave you exhausted, yet exhilarated. And it’s all made even more exciting because of the big day towards which you’re working – Demo Day!
Demo Day: The Big Finale that is also the Great Beginning
In many ways, Demo Day is the finale of the months you’ve spent at 500, growing and improving. It was the day where we could show people what we’d built Alluva into over the past four months – the analyst marketplace where everybody could see tomorrow’s prices, today. But it’s also a beginning because, as Jess Erickson of 500 Startups says, “After Demo Day, you’re thrown out into the real world where you have to succeed – or die trying.”
At 500, you don’t get any life hack, magic pill, or secret recipe to succeed as a startup. Instead, what you get is a reality check. You get to take that elusive step back and look objectively at everything you’ve been doing and want to do. You may feel that you manage to do that just fine as part of your daily business-as-usual schedule.
500 is the critic that shows you how that may not be the case, and how you can get from where you are to where you want to be. What it expects from you in return is the ability to critically judge every decision you take to ensure that it is optimal, to develop an outlook so that you can look at strategies and plans from angles that were previously ignored, and to take hard work in your stride.
In short, it expects you to live the real startup life, so that the real world is just a little easier. And it definitely helped us do just that.
By Demo Day, we’d moved much beyond Step 1. We’d expedited our development by focusing on exactly what our individual users and corporate customers wanted. Which is why we went up on that stage with a much better product, a clientele that was already being established, and a steadily growing userbase. Now, we’ve launched an updated version of our app with a host of new features that our customers love, and have gone much beyond just cryptoassets to add various other asset classes. 500 helped us move much faster along the route to our destination of being the world’s largest analyst marketplace, and you can check out our new interface here.
This article was written by Rishika Jhamb, Marketing Lead at Alluva. See original post on Medium.
NOTE: RISHIKA JHAMB IS A GUEST POSTER AND ANY VIEWS OR OPINIONS REPRESENTED IN THE ABOVE POST ARE PERSONAL AND DO NOT REPRESENT THOSE OF 500 STARTUPS OR ANY OF ITS STAFF OR AFFILIATES UNLESS EXPLICITLY STATED. ALL CONTENT REPRESENTED ABOVE IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. 500 STARTUPS MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS AS TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE ABOVE POST. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ANY OF THE ABOVE CONTENT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL, TAX OR INVESTMENT ADVICE FROM 500 STARTUPS OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES.
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