From Karachi to San Francisco, How this entrepreneurship program transformed our startup
Owning a startup is not unlike jumping off a high mountain without any backup. For the founders and the team, it comes with major risks.
Many entrepreneurs struggle with questions like:
- Will we survive through the month?
- Can I meet expenses for next month?
- How will I scale on this budget?
- Will I ever get enough sleep?
Those are just a few amongst many.
Early in 2018, we decided to take on the next big challenge for our B2B tech startup, Cloudlead, by creating an AI-based solution for prospecting and sales. We found ourselves frustrated. Despite having the vision and focus, there were many things we did not know how to pull off.
And so this article is a retelling of the adventure that Team Cloudlead went on with GAP NUST (Global Acceleration Program – NUST). We did not realize how this three-month acceleration program that is geared toward immersing tech startups in Silicon Valley would change us as a team, product, and company. From deep-diving into our financial model to product development and price setting, the team at GAP helped us improve in nearly every aspect of owning and running a startup.
From developing connections with a considerable network of thought leaders and founders in the tech space to the invaluable knowledge provided, here are the key takeaways from our three months in Silicon Valley with GAP.
From the very start, Team Cloudlead was exposed to aspiring entrepreneurs, founders, and staff from twenty different countries. Living amongst people from such diverse backgrounds working toward the same goal of dreaming big and creating the next successful tech startup was a fascinating experience.
The team at GAP, comprising Adnan Faisal and Sayaf Arbab, helped open a number of doors for us, arranging meetings with industry experts, IT leaders, mentors, corporate partners, and innovative entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. When you have so much support, you know that you just cannot give up. In fact, that is the most important thing that the team at GAP and leadership at the program’s partner Draper University taught us: the one true disaster is not failing; it’s giving up.
As per the program breakdown, the first five weeks were spent diving into Cloudlead and our industry with GAP Director Adnan Faisal. This helped Team Cloudlead reinforce one crucial thing, which is that we really do know our business!
Throughout the program, Adnan shed light on many aspects of Cloudlead’s operations. As a result of his unique perspective, we were able to come up with solutions to many problems that had been plaguing us – from our operations to finances, business model and prospecting software, there was really no stone left unturned.
Most importantly, with the help of Draper University and GAP, we were allowed to refine and practice our pitch, learning how to really communicate with investors and our audience alike.
Since the program, Team Cloudlead has successfully pitched at different Demo Days. We are more confident than ever about our upcoming software that will change how modern outbound sales and prospecting is done.
Experience & Empowerment
Working with GAP – NUST has been a truly empowering experience for Team Cloudlead. The intensive three-month acceleration program allowed us to explore the voice of our business and gave us the confidence to brave out the highs and lows of running a tech startup.
Despite being a post-revenue startup, this accelerator program allowed us to truly jumpstart our software. Between mentorship sessions, diving into Cloudlead’s business and networking with investors and partners, the grueling pace set by Adnan and Sayaf taught us to think fast and work hard.
Overall, GAP – NUST introduced a wonderful circle of tech mentors, partners, and entrepreneurs who not only encouraged us to launch our vision – a sales and prospecting software unlike any other – but also allowed us to fully explore our business and see it in a different light. The three months spent in Silicon Valley were truly a unique experience.
So we will end with this message from Team Cloudlead: Accelerator programs are to startups what cream cheese is to bagels: it adds to the overall experience and allows founders to explore numerous paths to innovation and success.
The NUST Global Acceleration Program is a pioneering acceleration program run by the National University of Sciences and Technology and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State that aims to help post-revenue Pakistani startups scale up globally.
The writer was part of the Cloudlead team which visited Silicon Valley under the Global Accelerator Program.