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.