Charting the Course: Navigating the Startup Journey at XTC 2021 Bootcamp
Now that the XTC 2021 Category Winners have been announced, we’re pulling back the curtain to take a behind-the-scenes look into the competition process. On June 3rd, 2021, our 80 Global Finalists attended a week-long Bootcamp led by institutional investors, corporate leaders, and domain experts providing actionable insights to help XTC Finalists grow their world-changing startups and prepare their pitches for the Category Finals.
- XTC Executive Managing Director Victoria Slivkoff kicked off the program in conversation with Young Sohn, Co-Founder of Extreme Tech Challenge, Chairman of the Board, HARMAN International, Founding Managing Partner, Walden Catalyst and Bill Tai, XTC Co-Founder and Partner Emeritus at Charles River Ventures. Despite a groundswell of startups focused on 21st century global challenges, "the question is discovery," Young suggested. "We believe that success breeds success," he explained. XTC, therefore, emerged as an effort to substantiate, amplify and energize the most promising ventures in this ecosystem.
- Bill Tai described how XTC finalists occupy a unique moment in history where capital markets have recognized the importance of sustainability-focused investment. Historically, profitability and sustainability lived in two separate worlds, walled off by a different ethos, motive and governing structure. Today, however, corporate ESG efforts and better business practices are fueling increased appetites for sustainable solutions and the sorts of innovations XTC finalists are championing. The merging of these two spaces presents a window of opportunity for startup entrepreneurs.
- XTC Board Member Lars Reger, who serves as CTO & EVP of NXP Semiconductors, discussed "Building a Business Empire: The Keys to Developing a Solid Strategy." He presented rankings of a company’s most important stakeholders, -- from customers and investors to regulators and employees -- explored crucial management decisions, and highlighted the importance of consistency across all departments in the evolution of the company on the road to building a business empire.
- Tae Hea Nahm, co-author of Survival to Thrival and Managing Director and Co-Founder of Storm Ventures discussed the value of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in measuring success on the startup journey. He highlighted the importance of developing a repeatable sales motion, building a sales playbook, and identifying Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) to properly scale a growth stage startup.
- Francis Ho, Managing Director at Walden Catalyst Ventures held a session on Crystallizing Your Vision. Founders with a deep tech background tend to see very clearly what’s wrong, and successfully identify and articulate the challenges they seek to address. These same entrepreneurs, however, often fall short in providing details on the solution, and struggle to explain how their innovation can be operationalized into a successful business and scaled for growth. Customers, investors and other stakeholders, Ho explained, require a well-articulated motivating narrative and crystallized vision to propel the startup forward and mobilize proper resources and capital behind that vision.
- Dragos Maciuca, Executive Technical Director at Palo Alto Research and Innovation Center for Ford Motor Company and Linda Elkins, Head of Gore Innovation Center and New Business Development for W.L. Gore & Associates, led a session titled, "Joint R&D with Corporate Innovation Teams." The discussion explored how startups can successfully partner with R&D and innovation teams at Fortune 500 corporations to commercialize their technologies.
- Marcelino Ford-Livene, Managing Director & Head of the Executive in Residence Program at Intel Capital led a discussion on Diversity & Inclusion. "Think of diversity as being asked to go to the party," he suggested, "but inclusion is actually being asked to dance." The talk explored the significance of equitable representation across key business areas as it relates to business priorities, unlocking employee potential and contributing to general societal well-being and company success.
- Bill Reichart of Pegasus Tech Ventures and author of "Getting to WOW: Silicon Valley Pitch Secrets for Entrepreneurs," hosted an interactive segment on improving pitches and what elements investors tend to focus on the most. He highlighted the importance of framing the market opportunity and the competitive landscape and concluded his session with mock pitch sessions from the entrepreneurs themselves, who each had the opportunity to showcase what they’d learned in the lesson.
- According to Arvind Gupta, Head of Mayfield’s Engineering & Biology practice, there are "Five Essential Moments in Building a Company." Gupta, a seasoned investor in science-driven companies, shared best practices with XTC finalists on how best to navigate these five essential moments in their own startup journey. "The technology actually doesn’t matter relative to the problem," Gupta reminded the finalists. Instead, CEOs must remain laser-focused on how their solution addresses a market challenge, and how their business is equipped to grow and scale.
- Rashmi Gopinath, Partner at B Capital Group, spoke about "How Startups Can Prepare For Growth Stage," by recruiting top talent to their businesses. She provided insight into best practices for hiring the correct management team, outlined the key drivers of growth and identified the metrics and milestones most likely to generate successful outcomes at the early stage.
The Bootcamp culminated in a series of Ask Me Anything’s (AMAs) and provided entrepreneurs with the opportunity to mine XTC’s expert panels for knowledge and drive the discussion in the direction of their choosing. The discussions focused on Fundraising, Product-Market Fit, Startup Pivots, Strategic Partnerships and International Expansions.
"It’s been an absolute privilege to participate in the XTC Finals," said Dr. Vikram Sharma, Founder & CEO of QuintessenceLabs, a startup finalist of XTC 2021. "Joining a fantastic cohort of companies and a terrific line-up of speakers in the Bootcamp week was an amazing experience. Young Sohn and Bill Tai’s [XTC Co-Founders] vision of catalyzing the startup community is truly being realized through the XTC competition."
The full Bootcamp coaching series is now publicly available for all to experience. Watch the entire series on the XTC YouTube channel here and be sure to register to attend the XTC 2021 Global Finals presented by TechCrunch on July 22.