Lessons Learned from Shotput Ventures

With the launch of the Atlanta Ventures Accelerator, one of the questions I’ve received is what did we learn from Shotput Ventures that we’re going to do differently this time. As a quick back story, Shotput Ventures was launched at the beginning of 2009 as a Y Combinator clone in Atlanta. We invested in nine companies, had one great exit, and learned a ton.

Here are a few takeaways from Shotput Ventures:

  • Startups with strong technical co-founders made the most progress during the three month program (as expected)
  • Non-technical co-founders that were relentlessly resourceful made much stronger contributions to their company (some business co-founders didn’t feel they could contribute since they didn’t code, which is patently false)
  • Most teams didn’t launch a minimum viable product soon enough and had little to show come demo day
  • Lack of a shared office hurt the camaraderie aspect of the program (most people worked out of their apartments and came in for Wednesday night dinners)
  • Mentoring and coaching from the community was great and exceeded expectations

Overall, Shotput Ventures was a good learning experience but didn’t have the desired impact on Atlanta. Now, with the Atlanta Ventures Accelerator, we’re going to use what we learned and make a serious impact on Atlanta.

What else? What were some other observations or lessons learned from Shotput Ventures?

4 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from Shotput Ventures

  1. We were fortunate to participate in the program in 2010. A few learnings:

    1.Mentorship and coaching was the best part of the program.
    2. Sense of community kept us motivated. We were really lucky to share space with companies like Pardot and Rigor.
    3. Mentors could have been more blunt.
    4. There was no clear goal to measure success after 3 months.

    Overall it was a great program that I would repeat again.

  2. Great success with Atlanta Ventures Accelerator. It should be a great experiment.

    One nit if you don’t mind. There seems to continue to be a lot of confusion about what an MVP is for. IMO, an MVP and “demo day” are mutually exclusive things. An MVP is a test, used to see if there is buying interest from customers during the Customer Discovery phase. It does not need to be a working thing, in fact it may work best as simply a mockup or a spec sheet. On the other hand, a demo is used to gain interest in the company from potential investors, employee, etc. A different thing altogether.

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