It is difficult to describe the feelings that Talk-A-Bot has experienced since July. We are among the top 10 in Techstars’ first Southeast Asian accelerator program. Which is quite impressive, as it has 480 companies from 38 countries around the world. In this blog post, Talk-A-Bot will share their experiences about Rakuten and Techstars. We will show you the structure of the program, starting with the Mentor Madness part!
Rakuten Techstars and the Japanese mentality
Being a Techstars backed company is not just a new period in the life of Talk-A-Bot. Rakuten Techstars offers a huge international opportunity to open new markets and dimensions to the company. It’s fascinating to see this organization with a Japanese mentality where respect and orderly manner are the main values. In fact, Rakuten employees start their week by cleaning their own table and wiping the chair’s legs in the office. Yes, even the 7th richest man in Japan, the CEO as well.
About Rakuten and the Techstars accelerator program
Techstars is a worldwide, well-known and excellent organization. It has connections with over 10,000 mentors who kindly offer their helping with strategy-building. Talk-A-Bot, in return, believes it is able to be the best enterprise chatbot provider not only in Hungary but internationally. Good pairing, huh? The schedule of the program is pretty busy. There are no empty passes, you have to hit the iron until it’s hot. This is also typical in the startup world. At that very moment, you have to be there and make the best of it. After the introductions and acquaintances, the program began. For over three full weeks, more than 60 mentors waited to get acquainted with 10 startups from 10 countries around the world. They were all selected by Techstars.
Techstars Mentor Madness
During the “Mentor Madness” period, every company had only half an hour to tell their message and get a reply on the spot. Our mentors from all over the world travelled to Singapore to help emerging companies. Before the mentor meetings, we got the main information about the mentors. Things like the names of the mentors, the exact location and time, and a link to the mentors’ curriculum vitae. Ákos, of course, studied the professional life and publications of the mentors all day long previously. Because of that, they could easily connect to each other.
During the days and then weeks you could share any topic or question with them. The catch was: you only had 30 minutes. On the other hand, it did not matter if your field was unfamiliar to the mentors. Everyone should be able to understand your innovation and ask questions from their own point of view. Then there were those 3-4 really relevant mentors whose advice was really made of gold. One of the mentors was absolutely committed to the program. The following day that Ákos introduced the sketch of our latest product, the mentor brought his own housekeeper to the office, with whom Ákos could conduct a product development interview.
This dynamism lasted throughout the program and we loved every moment of it. After the Mentor Madness, each team could choose lead mentors who will be closely involved in team life. Not only during the program but even beyond. Talk-A-Bot’s lead mentors will be Michael Shmilov, Viber COO and Haruna Tanaka, head of the Strategic and Planning Bureau of Rakuten HQ.
Our next post will be about the workshop weeks, where Techstars shares its know-how to the participants. Stay tuned! In the meantime, read our other Talk-A-Bot blogpost about the Rakuten Techstars program!