Virtual Goes Viral
After a very successful Selection Series last year it felt like it’d be an eternity before this time would be upon us yet again.
Selection Series is an event we hold for all of our partners and our selected startups to better understand each startup and ultimately choose which are offered a spot in the accelerator. And while it is an entire year gap, this year felt longer than most. When we concluded the in-person Selection Series in 2020, we had no idea that just one month later things would change so drastically.
Our program started in March 2020, and while we knew something was happening, we were still unsure exactly what or how it would impact our accelerator. During the first week we started having routine discussions around what travel restrictions were being put into place at our BTV agency partners. Before the first scheduled one-on-one session we received word that many agencies were restricting travel. We decided to hold the first week’s meetings virtually, with many of the startups still in Des Moines, Iowa.
Week two was a carbon copy of the first. After realizing the obvious trend, we decided to send all startups back home and move to a virtual world. We just didn’t realize how long “going virtual” would last. At first, we thought, “most likely through the summer.”
Then it changed to, “Perhaps into the fall.” Around June, we realized this could go another year. So how do we take what worked in 2020 along with some tweaks and try to outdo ourselves? We had ideas, but certainly no definitive answers.
As a group we looked to see where opportunities existed in a virtual world that would not exist in a face-to-face environment. First, we determined that the virtual format would give us the opportunity to talk to more startups as part of our group Q&A. Yes, much can be discerned from answers to questions, but there’s nothing like talking to them. The more we get to speak to each other, the better we can do in selecting the right startups.
We also realized that with a virtual environment partners could selectively bring in subject matter experts to aid in their selection process. Certainly, it would not have made sense for someone to fly into Des Moines for three hours of questions and answers.
Additionally, we structured each startup pitch from in-person to video which allowed teams to review in the weeks leading up to the group Q&A. This gave our partners more time to gather thoughts. Finally, we tested a breakout session where each startup had their own room and people could jump in and out for impromptu discussions.
All of this led to an amazing event for our BTV agency, insurance company partners and our startups. Yes, we would have preferred to join as a group, but the good far outweighed the bad.
There was so much “good” in what we did that in 2021 (or 2022) when things more closely resemble what we consider “normal,” we will choose to keep much of what we did in 2020. I’ve found through many difficult times that sometimes in life, when we are forced to look for alternative paths, we find one that’s even better.
And with that sentiment I would like to introduce everyone to the BTV class of 2021…
- Aclaimant, Chicago, Ill.
- altumAI, Chicago, Ill.
- Aureus Analytics, Hartford, Conn.
- Fenris, Richmond, Va.
- HealthLucid, Fremont, Calif.
- Layr, Atlanta, Ga.
- Malum Terminus Technologies, Inc., Coralville, Iowa
- Propeller, Inc., Houston, Texas
- Relativity 6, Cambridge, Mass.
- RxLive, Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla.
- Socialeads, Milwaukee, Wis.
- Surfly, Amsterdam, Netherlands
John Jackovin is the executive director of BrokerTech Ventures.