Yes, Techstars is a lot like the Military. Seriously
Uvize is entering week four of the Kaplan Education Technology Accelerator powered by Techstars (@EdTechAccel), a mentor-driven venture accelerator. For those who are unfamiliar, an accelerator is a highly selective 3-month program designed to help promising companies launch their start-ups. After only a few weeks, we are feeling comfortable with the Techstars “Do More Faster” culture and I’m surprised to say this: it’s a whole lot like the military (albeit with way less physical activity). In fact, the parallels are why this is the perfect environment for our team of veterans to grow our venture. Here’s why Techstars is much like the military:
Growth Occurs Outside Your Comfort Zone
During the first phase of pilot training, I was blindfolded and submerged underwater while strapped in a tank. It wasn’t very comfortable, but I learned fast–there was no alternative. Techstars takes a similar approach. Our days are endless and goals are set that push you to a level that exceeds reason. We’re moving uncomfortably fast and the only solution is to learn faster.
Everyone Has Each Other’s Back
Two of the things I miss most about the military is the camaraderie and the 100% trust in my fellow troops. In Techstars, we are are working with nine other teams, alumni, and countless mentors. We can call each other any time and count on one another for assistance. In the military, contrary to popular belief, orders and chain-of-command don’t facilitate trust between people, the culture does. Techstars embraces the exact same culture based on trust and mutual contribution.
I say this in jest (sort of). I’ll never forget one of my flight school instructors barking at me before a flight, “Ensign Cass, today my goal is to make your head explode.” Military instructors are not known for their kind words, and, in fact, most trainees think of them as “###holes” during training. Afterwards, however, we thank them because they’re the reason we succeed. Similarly, Techstars mentors are blunt and will ruthlessly attack your venture from every angle. My hunch is that we will thank them for it one day.
Our mission is to improve the graduation rates and GPA’s of military veterans in college. This is our only mission and we are focused. Techstars is the perfect partnership for us; we are veterans who love the fast-paced and demanding culture. It motivates us and epitomizes Uvize’s mission to serve those troops who give under the greatest of pressures.