Nurses working with Momo medical innovation

The building process for founders doesn’t stop when YCombinator ends. In fact, that’s really the whole purpose of it: to launch a business on an upward scaling trajectory, even after the 3-month programme. And Momo Medical is no exception. With his newfound knowledge and network, Menno Gravemaker is rapidly expanding across the US with a little help from his friends.

Network Is More Than Money

As part of the YC programme, founders are put together in small focus groups that offer support and feedback throughout the 3 months. And they’re often grouped together based on industry or product type.

Menno’s group focused on companies addressing medical obstacles. Momo Medical builds bed sensors for dementia wards in nursing homes so that the night shift can work more effectively. And while all YC participants may be passionate about their solutions, that enthusiasm and knowledge are even more amplified in the specialised groups.

Another huge benefit is the diverse perspectives on each other’s business models that they offer. For example, many of the group members were more familiar with the American healthcare system, and so they were able to provide insight that may have otherwise been a rude awakening for Menno and his team.

His group also provided feedback on his pitch deck. Specifically, they recommended that he reverses the order, and instead presents the slides as idea, traction, and then problem. “You have these discussions among each other about ‘why is it in that order’ and ‘why does it work for one business and not another?’” says Menno. And that shared knowledge comes from varied experiences. That’s one of the great reasons for attending programmes like YC: to expose yourself to different ways of thinking in order to solve your problem better.

They also talked about more vulnerable, ugly aspects of building their businesses. As an exercise, they listed the reasons their startups would fail in the next five years, and then shared it with each other. And with their fears named out loud, fellow entrepreneurs can empower each other to continue building.

When the entrepreneurial path is traveled by so few, those relationships can truly be lifelines. Even after YC ended, Menno still has calls with fellow group members to talk through some challenges they face.

Meeting Investors at Demo Day

At the end of the programme, YC organises a demo day for investors and media to meet founders and learn about their products. It’s a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect with so many potential partners in one place. And while it was an in-person event in previous years, it is now a virtual event spanning two days.

Each company pitches for one minute, but with a graduating cohort of 377 companies, that’s over six hours of presentations. So in addition to the programming, YC also sets up the networking capabilities so that investors and press can connect with founders to learn more.

Menno spent weeks refining his one-minute pitch (with the help of his peers), which is an especially difficult process when also trying to determine product-market fit throughout the 12-week programme. “But a changing pitch is a sign of progress,” he says.

Overall, Menno says the event was a huge success. While it’s not a day meant for signing contracts and closing deals, it’s a rare opportunity to build a valuable network. He had some great conversations with investors from both the US and Japan and spent the following days following up on over 100 inbound requests for more information. And meeting members of the press is always useful down the line.

The Power of Network

Everyone who comes together at YC understands and appreciates the entrepreneurial journey, which makes it an incredibly fertile ground for building relationships. Outside of the programming, Menno would have drinks with fellow participants and get to know them on a more personal level. And those relationships continue to have a lasting impact on his work.

Before the programme concluded, Menno received a message from another founder participating in YC to ask if Momo Medical is accepting small checks for his next raise. “I was a little taken aback,” Menno laughs. “It’s amazing because you have such an intimate connection with everyone, and you can inspire others to the point where they want to invest money in your startup.”

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