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Starting Up Again? Rebound with a Community of Second-Time Founders

August 5, 2020
8 Mins
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Starting Up Again? Rebound with a Community of Second-Time Founders

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Starting Up Again? Rebound with a Community of Second-Time Founders
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8 Mins
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Summary

“Love the mission behind Rebound. Second time founders are a rare lot. The quality of interactions is much deeper and there is a lot more cross learning that happens. The sessions were very structured and the team at Accel is easily one of the most humble and approachable VC teams in India,” said Anand Sinha, Co-founder of leap.club

Incisive discussions, a framework to learn and unlearn, unmatched peer learning, a support system — these are just some of the engineered elements that stood out for the ‘second-time entrepreneurs’ who were part of the second batch of graduates of Accel’s Rebound program.

Those linked to startups, or any creative process, understand the importance of serendipitous encounters, as Steve Jobs termed it, in building or creating something new. At Rebound, such breakthroughs are not left to the realm of chance.

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A community to rebound with

We at Accel realized that there is no targeted and effective community for founders who are starting up for the second or third time. We found that this group of founders face a different set of challenges compared to first-time entrepreneurs (Read in detail about why Accel started Rebound here).

Those who have been through the experience of starting up at least once before would have seen their previous startup get acquired, outright acquired or shut down. Whatever the outcome there are templates or process biases, some subliminal, that the founder falls back on.

The chances are high that mistakes will be repeated, but these experienced entrepreneurs also want to try something new — they want to unlearn and try a different method. Further, they are looking for a peer network and are generous with sharing their learnings with other founders. This is why we designed a special program specifically for founders who have built a startup at least once before.

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This is our way of making our learnings from working with over 150 companies within our portfolio available to founders starting up again.
The idea behind Rebound is not to spot funding opportunities for Accel but, hey, if some of the founders in this avatar or next want to partner us and it makes compelling sense — we are always open!

We launched Rebound in 2019 and the call for applications for the second cohort went out in December. The program for the second batch started in January 2020.

The Rebound Method

Rebound is focused on knowledge sharing, peer learning, and one-on-one coaching, led by my colleagues at Accel. The program is session-based with each huddle, scheduled once a month, lasting for between three to four hours.

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The plan was to follow up each session with a networking dinner, but the Covid-19 pandemic changed our plans. While the first session and networking dinner were held face-to-face, all other sessions were moved online thanks to the Covid-19 lockdown.

While an online setting has its intrinsic set of challenges, we were able to translate to the virtual setting the program’s goals of creating a sense of community, fostering the exchange of ideas and learnings, and providing individual and personalised coaching.

Though the themes were varied, we did not intend for these sessions to be one-way lectures and set the tone of peer learning and knowledge exchange right in the first session, with founders sharing insights based on their previous startup experiences or tough moments that they have faced during their journey. We have seen that when a bunch of smart, high-quality founders come together, their combined experiences create a fertile ground for exponential learning for all. It also helps that the peer relationships within and across different batches continue beyond the program and this ongoing access to a community of founder-peers is valuable to the participants.

“It is probably the best version of a Founders Anonymous; you can lay it bare and not be judged,” said Vikram Sood, Co-founder of Hungrywheels.”

This knowledge sharing is extremely useful especially for dealing with situations like the Covid-19 crisis. Each founder shared how the market has changed for them and how they are responding to new market realities.

“Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey, especially with Covid-19 around. Great to be part of Accel Rebound and have a family of fellow entrepreneurs around to share and learn from. Got a lot of valuable practical insights from the Rebound sessions,” said Bhagaban Behera, Co-founder of WalrusPay.

The sessions also focused on providing actionable insights. For instance, during the session on Market Mapping, my colleague and Shekhar Kirani did a teardown for companies on the markets they are targeting, making this session very valuable for all companies. They got one-on-one personalized feedback and were able to derive value from the reviews of the other startups in the batch.

“Some very good frameworks of original thinking (were) shared. Good to see some of these frameworks with organic thinking in Indian context and Indian examples. The founder friendliness of Accel shines through,” said Konark Singhal, Co-founder of Mountblue.

The program concluded with the founders pitching their companies. Unlike regular pitching sessions, here the focus is on fine-tuning the pitch and helping the founder understand what needs to stand out. The pitches were reviewed by Dinesh Katiyar, Shrrinesh Bala, Pratik Agarwal and Pranay Yadav.

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“Being part of Rebound was a great experience. I learnt a lot from the sessions conducted on specific topics by the Accel team. Best part of the program was to know that what I am experiencing while building my company isn’t unique, others are or have been on a similar boat and are willing to share their experiences for others to learn,” said Snehanshu Gandhi, Co-founder of Sorted AI.
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Those days when we were able to facilitate sessions in a meeting room :)

The Rebound Batch 2

  1. AnswerWise uses AI to simplify and automate customer support by helping customers and support agents instantly find answers in large existing knowledge bases leading to an increased self-service rate and higher agent productivity. This results in lower costs for companies and improved support experience for customers. Built as a self-serve SaaS product, it can be used in a customer-facing widget or as an integration that assists agents on helpdesk software.
  2. Decentro is an easy-to-use API platform for banking integrations in India (and soon beyond). They do the hard work of tying up with legacy institutions so that a company that needs to do the integration can just integrate their desired APIs and go live. It is part of the YCombinator summer batch of 2020 and is live with three major banks in the country and has launched its first three modules — KYC, AML and Accounts.
  3. Hungry Wheels offers a portable cloud kitchen as a service to those who want to set up a mobile F&B operation. It has purpose-built kitchen caravans that F&B entrepreneurs can rent out for a monthly fee. It also offers other services, from support for permits and licenses to drivers on hire.
  4. InterviewPass is a video-based talent assessment software for growing businesses. Automated video interviews and assessments by InterviewPass allows businesses to reduce the noise in hiring by giving hiring managers and recruiters a quick and easy way to assess applicants effectively.
  5. LightCat.io is a product management tool built around customer knowledge, instead of bugs or tickets. It is used by over 100 teams across the world to take customer-centric product decisions.
  6. Leap.club is a private professional network for women with a simple mission — to get more women in leadership positions. They combine a strong network, executive coaching, and learning and mental wellness to focus on the professional development of their members.
  7. MountBlue Technologies is a coding bootcamp exclusively focused on solving entry-level tech hiring for high growth ventures. About 500 engineers have graduated from its bootcamps and have been deployed at over 150 tech companies that range from bootstrapped and pre-seed ventures to scaled ‘multicorns’ and publicly listed entities.
  8. Outplay is a sales engagement platform that allows sellers to customise messages at scale, across multiple channels like email, phone, text message, and social media. Outplay claims to provide a level of automation that can increase the number of opportunities by 10x, and ensure each SDR is consistently using best practices.
  9. RetargetAds is an Ad-Network, which allows advertisers to re-target someone else’s blog traffic with Ads on social media platforms, keeping the blogs Ad-Free and cutting down costs of Ads for advertisers.
  10. SalesBenefits helps companies manage their sales commissions and performance based compensation by linking with CRMs, Accounting and Payroll software to analyse the teams’ performance. Using this analysis and the company’s commission structure the software tool calculates commissions and payouts in real time. With SalesBenefits businesses can bring transparency to their sales teams about performance, quota attainment and also commissions.
  11. Sinecycle, started by a team of ex-Freshworkers, is trying to solve a problem in the accounts receivable space and is early in the ideation phase. The team is building a smart integrated accounts receivable tool to help businesses automate and streamline their invoice-to-cash process.
  12. Sorted AI is building a suite of AI-powered utility and productivity apps for ‘Bharat’ users. About 80% of Indian users access the internet primarily through the mobile phone and are not tech savvy. But, all existing utility tools are not designed for the mobile or for the ‘Bharat’ user. To address that Sorted AI has built two apps to start with — Kaagaz Scanner, a document scanning app, and Sorted AI, a productivity app offering smart reminders, tasks and to-do list.
  13. Utterwise gives cash-flow insights and empowers small businesses to make great everyday decisions about their cash positions. Utterwise has launched a business app for small businesses in India.
  14. Walrus is a Neobank and community aimed at the 200 million teenagers in India. Walrus helps teens manage their pocket money in a smart way via an intuitive mobile app and a debit card. What’s more, Walrus helps teens develop good financial habits and also get rewarded for it.

Be part of our third cohort

We are announcing applications for our third batch of Rebound. If you have been through the startup journey at least once before and are once again in the early throes of setting up your next startup, we’d love to hear from you.

The third Rebound program’s sessions will cover a wide range of topics, from Market Segmentation and Product Growth Framework to Organisation Design and Executing a Fundraising Process. The last date of application is 29th August 2020. Please apply here.

With inputs from Dinesh Katiyar, Manasi Shah, Siddharth Ram, Shrrinesh Balasubramanian

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