This year’s XTC Bootcamp, like so many other events across the globe, was held virtually over Zoom. Fifty-two incredible startups were invited to participate in the virtual bootcamp and to qualify for the Global Finals on July 15th.
Solving the globe’s biggest problems cannot be done alone. That’s why the XTC Bootcamp is a collective effort, matching awe-inspiring entrepreneurs with the very best industry thinkers and practitioners. Over the course the week-long bootcamp, this year’s XTC finalists engaged with leading corporate and investment leaders who shared their expertise and offered actionable insights on how to build and scale a world-changing startup.
Here are just a few of our 10 favorite takeaways from the event:
#1: Entrepreneurs can save the world: Tim Draper, Founder and Managing Partner of Draper Associates, spoke about leading a startup through a crisis. In this time of global pandemic and economic upheaval, Draper is convinced that entrepreneurs have the opportunity to take big risks, create a new destiny, inspire others, and show the world what they are made of.
#2: Surf to success: Tae Hea Nahm, Managing Director of Storm Ventures, outlined his formula for unlocking growth. He explained that finding “go-to-market fit” is like going from paddling to surfing. Paddling out to the can be tiring. But once you catch the wave and start surfing, you can go great distances without expending any energy.
#3: Biology is the next frontier: Jerry Yang, Co-founder & Former CEO, Yahoo! and Founding Partner of AME Cloud Ventures, told us why he thinks this is the century of biology, and why he is investing at the intersection of digital and life sciences. He believes that if you combine bioinformatics with big data, magical things can happen.
#4 Make company culture a priority: Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Microsoft, spoke about how culture is now a cornerstone for growth and innovation. She advised startups to make company culture a priority right from the get-go. In her experience, companies reap the biggest dividends by investing in culture early and often.
#5 Reach massive scale one step at a time: Philippe Botteri,Partner at Accel, delved into the do’s and don’ts of reaching massive scale. His main piece of advice: don’t get ahead of yourself. Startups need to make sure they have a solid foundation of customer support in their own country before looking to expand internationally, he said.
#6: Pick your investors wisely. Bill Tai, Co-Founder, Extreme Tech Challenge, Partner Emeritus at Charles River Ventures, said entrepreneurs should pick investors who compliment their personality rather than amplify it. When everything is going wrong, you want someone who can come in and tell you to keep your chin up because things are not that bad. And when things are going great, you want somebody to bring you back to earth and prevent your ego from getting out of control.
#7: Select the right board members. Lip-Bu Tan, Chairman of Walden International, said to look for board members that can truly add value through their network or know-how in a particular sector. He also noted that board members are typically very busy people, so you want someone who is willing to take the time to truly help and mentor your company.
#8: Recruit people who are better than you: Rafaèle Tordjman, CEO of Jeito Capital, said the best entrepreneurs aren’t egomaniacs, but rather people who know their own limitations. She values leaders who understand their own weaknesses and can then recruit people who are better than they are in those areas.
#9: Stay positive: CP Gurnani, CEO and Managing Director of Tech Mahindra, called on entrepreneurs to rely on their natural optimism, persistence and resilience. There will be some startups that will be challenged in the post-Covid environment. There will be others that find new opportunities. His only request to entrepreneurs: Keep your head above water. Keep swimming. Because the planet needs you more than ever.
#10: Empower your employees. Tamara Steffens, Managing Director of M12, remembers playing on a co-ed softball team led by a superstar shortstop. It was the biggest game of the season and the shortstop suddenly stopped trusting his teammates. He started running all over the field to chase balls. Pretty soon everyone was out of position. The game ended in chaos. The moral here is that when you hire people, you have to trust them to play their position. You can’t run all over the place trying to do everyone’s job.
Now that the bootcamp has wrapped up, we look forward to the next phase of the competition—and seeing how this group of 52 amazing startups can unlock breakthrough innovations that benefit humanity and make the world a better place.
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