What we learned running the second Venture Lab cohort

Bob Jansen
March 15, 2019

Yesterday we celebrated the graduation of the second cohort of Venture Lab entrepreneurs. We had a great afternoon where each entrepreneur pitched their company, progress, and learnings.

I was impressed by the progress all the entrepreneurs made in such a short amount of time. All of them made significant steps towards turning their idea into a healthy business.

Celestia ChanPhoto by:

In this cohort we doubled down on the peer-2-peer activities, which showed in the results and the strong connections made between the participants. Let's take a look at some of the observations from yesterday's demo day!

The quality of an idea is a poor indicator for success

True to our brand, we experimented with this years' selection process. We organised a selection weekend where the most promising applicants were invited to join 3 days of workshops and iterations on their ideas.

We teamed up the participants to work on their own or others' ideas. From our network we invited experienced coaches and mentors to work with the teams who observed the entrepreneurs and took notes. We specifically looked for their coachability, ability to iterate quickly on learnings during the weekend, and resourcefulness.

We managed to select a great group of people to enter our batch.

You don't need hundreds of mentors to run a program

We run the Venture Lab program with a handful of experienced mentors, coaches, and investors. These experts get highly involved  with the entrepreneurs and follow them throughout the program. This makes for highly targeted and effective sessions.

Through our involvement is similar programs we've learned that entrepreneurs can experience mentor overload and even invented a term for it: mentor whiplash. During these programs entrepreneurs are exposed to so many different opinions and advice that conflicts, ultimately leaving them to feel paralyzed in knowing which direction to take.

Peer-to-peer activities amplify expert advice

During the program we organise several peer-to-peer activities where the entrepreneurs can ask for advice and help with any of their challenges. Ranging from ideas on strategy, finding the right contacts, to very practical problems on the product level.

These sessions are powerful and from time to time involved our experts. By doing this, the advice went far past the usual 1-on-1 setting between a mentor and entrepreneur. This helps information and knowledge reach more people.

A demo day showcasing progress & learnings

The Venture Lab program is focused on de-risking ideas and turning them into a business. At demo day we ask the entrepreneurs to show their progress, learnings, and results. We don't want to hear overhyped stories.

All results and outcomes in Venture Lab count. Especially when they were a deliberate result of an experiment that was designed to be tested in the market. It showed on demo day. Every pitch was unique, raw and real. Which made for a very refreshing and personal afternoon.

A big thank you to the participants and partners!

We're looking back on a great program. Learn more about all the participants of this Venture Lab cohort:

We'd like to thank all the partners that helped make Venture Lab happen:

We'll announce the next Venture Lab cohort soon! Sign up, to be the first to know!