Today I sat with Alexandra (Ali), 25, from Toronto. After taking part in accelerators in London and Amsterdam, she is now freelancing and has just joined the edition 2017 of METRO Accelerator for Hospitality as a Techstars Communications Associate. We discussed her experience with the program so far.
How and why did you become an Associate at the Accelerator?
For a few years, I wanted to move to Berlin, but the timing never seemed to be right. I finally applied on the Techstars website and reached out to Franziska Lohl, Program Manager of the program, a few weeks before the start of the program. My vision and experience within communications, how I could help the startups, and the program content fit well together. I also saw it as a great opportunity to build up my network in Berlin, so I decided to join the METRO Accelerator for Hospitality Associates team.
Who can apply as an associate?
An accelerator is super intense and demanding for everyone involved, from the founders to the organization team, to the associates.
The founders will get a lot of new information and feedback on their businesses, so it can be very emotionally stressful. As an associate, you have to be mindful on how you communicate with them: their businesses are their babies and they are very protective with them. They must believe you can really bring them value, because their time is their most important commodity. Be patient yet persistent from day 1 of the program to gain their trust and show how you can add value. To do so effectively, you have to be confident in yourself and your skills. You need to know exactly what you are going to bring them and how.
It will help for an associate to have had previous experience in entrepreneurship, because they will feel comfortable in the environment, but this is not mandatory.
As it is a demanding project, an associate needs to dedicate 100% of their time to the program for 3 months.
The program started already few weeks ago. How has been your experience so far?
I have been intense so far, especially during Mentor Madness. Mentor Madness was a very good way to get to know the founders and the challenges they are currently facing. I now have a better understanding of where I can help them in the coming weeks.
The program has really helped me grow, both personally and professionally. I gained more confidence, and have been able to give back some of the knowledge I have acquired over the past few years.
Dennis, Janelby, Felipe, Suzy and Ali – Associates of the Hospitality 2017 Program
What is your advice to any associate applicants?
Don’t think twice about applying, you don’t have anything to lose. You might think, it is only three months, but it is such a tremendous and diverse experience where you will meet so many people. It worth it.
To finish on an inspiring note, any books you would recommend?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is hilarious. It’s a great satirical reflection on society, technology, and how seriously we take life – and how maybe we shouldn’t.
I would also recommend One Plus One Equals Three by Dave Trott – a well-known ad-man in London. The book consists of short stories of less than three pages each, and is a refreshing take on copywriting.