Being an entrepreneur can feel like a lonely journey. I was not surrounded by entrepreneurs on a regular basis. Many of my friends don’t have the same passion for it, or understand my desire to run a startup. “You have a good paying job already. Why do you want to add more to your plate with a startup?” was a question I received on a regular basis. I spent time thinking to myself about how great it would be to surround myself with people who understand the fears and exhilaration of the entrepreneurial journey. And while hearing, “That’s a great idea!” is always nice, people who would challenge my business model, or ask me tough questions to get me thinking critically about my startup was something I truly needed.
If you’ve ever felt the same way I did, an entrepreneur bootcamp or accelerator program may be the answer for you. These programs are designed to give you direct feedback on your startup and teach you new skills. You’ll be challenged more than ever, and exhilarated at the same time. The best part is that you’ll be surrounded by fellow entrepreneurs, from all walks of life and different stages in their startups, who understand you. Bootcamps take place all over the world and can last between a few days to a few months.
I just returned from MIT’s Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp in Seoul, South Korea. As the plane from Korea sent me on my way back to Washington, DC I found myself full of emotions. Not out of fatigue or relief, but because I was sad that the experience was over. During the bootcamp, attendees had 6 days to start a company and pitch investors on the last day. The experience of being my team’s CEO, pitching investors, running on 2 hours of sleep per night, collaborating with 5 strangers, all while emotions and tensions run high and giving 100% of yourself was the best experience I’ve ever had. The bootcamp confirmed that I’m meant to be an entrepreneur. I felt alive, invigorated, and truly proud of all that I accomplished.
If you’re considering applying for one of the many bootcamps and accelerator programs out there, here’s some advice from someone who has attended a bootcamp and lived to tell the tale.