“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.