Netherlands was beyond my imagination when we first applied to SBC Amsterdam, it was probably the furthest accelerator from Sydney we could find. 7write had applied to every global accelerator over a month with not much success. Towards the end of 2012 we suddenly started getting interest, it seemed like we were doing an accelerator interview every second day, sometimes more than one.
When we landed in Amsterdam for final section days it was cold and snowing. This is exactly as expected since I had watched DAM square webcam every day since we were invited to final selection. Tired and jetlagged I turned up for final selection day one at the SBC office. Final selection was basically two days of pitching to groups of mentors. Sort of like speed dating, we moved between tables selling 7write and answering questions. This process was not as difficult as I expected, it was great to get some serious feedback about our startup and the choices we had made. Day two continued the pitching and then, we won!
Its only a few times in my life that I have experience the type of excitement that started after we won final selection SBC Amsterdam 2013. I remember the first time I jumped from a plane, the elation felt like that and did not stop for several weeks. My co-founders headed back to Australia to tie up loose ends, for me it was Netherlands! I had packed up and prepared before we won, somehow I knew it would happen. I headed off to Rotterdam for a month to minimize living expenses (half the rent) then, blink blink it was SBC day one!
What a buzz, 9 teams all primed to value their business at 4m+ by Demo Day. Pretty amazing goal considering we only kicked off 7write at the end of 2012. The first few weeks consisted of various mentor sessions and Lean Workshops. As a result of mentoring and re-evaluating our business model we decided to pivot in month two of the program. We realized that although there was a market to help writers with their book it would take too long to become profitable. For this reason we changed direction to build an online tool to allow authors to upload their completed book.
Being the only techie on the team meant a lot of coding. Lucky for me my co-founders were busy finding investment and eventually we were able engage a development team. After the trials and tribulations of o-desk’ing we engaged an outsourcing company that provided resource at a reasonable rate, which included a process manager to help with staff related issues like communication and education on project skills. We worked A LOT. My average day was 12 hours including weekends. I can count the days on one hand that I took off in the first three months of the program. The second three months were better when I started taking one or two days rest on the weekend. It’s funny to think that I slowed down to a 60 hour week!
We also had some parties. Queen’s day was the best. Started with the teams and staff at SBC (including founders) walked to a street party on Queens night, wow did I feel it on Queens day! Up early and off to a boat hosted by close friends of SBC and with a special founder who also is an awesome DJ. Loved how the police came and asked us to turn the music down, then hearing it creep back up, just wonderful. And then there were the bridges! The last party was a farewell; we had to move out of SBC for the new teams of the NFC program. We didn’t move far, choosing an office in DAM Square. I decided to mentor the new teams after being invited, which was great as I love startups and I love talking about them. For 7write, its growth time!
SBC is one of the most significant influences of my life. It took me from the beach in Australia to the middle of EU business environment and I am thankful for that. We will succeed!
Mark is one of the Co-founders and CTO of 7write - a startup, which wants to empower people to easily self-publish and, therewith share knowledge, science and culture. The team participated in Startupbootcamp Amsterdam´s class of 2013.