TechTalents – The Startup Experience Program

TechTalents – The Startup Experience Program

“I am sure as students we all have had ideas that we are passionate about and think could go big, yet we never fully invested the time or effort in making them a reality.”

Meet Mohammed Safiulla Dadabai, a new entrepreneur. He and his team, Story Time , were participants in the second edition of TechTalents this spring. The program was completely virtual after the format shifted due to COVID, but, according to Safi, was completely successful.

Below is his description of what it was like being a part of the program and how he personally benefitted.

Maybe it will spark the entrepreneur inside you.

 

Thanks, Safi!

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One of the highlights of this year has been taking part in the TechTalents program, which took place from 23 April to the 19 June. TechTalents is an international student acceleration program organized by TechQuartier and Eintracht Frankfurt and focuses on innovation and technology. The aim is to foster the entrepreneurial spirit and passion among students. About 110 students from 32 universities and over 8 different countries were selected for the ‘Second Edition of TechTalents.’

Due to the current circumstances and COVID-19, the TechTalents program was conducted entirely online.

My journey started with an email I received from Career Services, at Frankfurt School, informing us about TechTalents. I researched the program and decided to enroll.

 

From ideation to implementation

 

As part of the program, my team pitched the idea of an EdTech Startup – Story Time – a platform aimed to create interactive stories to make reading fun and engaging for children. Stories in our app are expressed as text, images, audio, video, or a combination of the above. Each page has choices for the young reader to navigate the storyline based on his/her preferences. This leads to a more fun and interactive reading experience.

 

You can get to know more about our idea with the following links:

 

The program was a perfect blend of theory and practice. We had videos informing and educating us about product innovation, the ideation process, business idea validation and various business models, etc. At the same time, we had practical milestones which made sure we go through the entire process without overlooking any steps. In addition to this, we were also given access to the Codedoor platform to help us with coding and technical skills.

 

Milestones – Guiding us and keeping us on track

 

One of the things I liked most about TechTalents was that we were coached throughout the entire program with weekly milestones – seven in total. This helped us stay on track with the overall timeline. More importantly, it ensured that we did not spend too much time deliberating on one task while neglecting another.

 

These milestones were also our evaluation criteria, consisting of essential things to complete at the end of each phase such as:

  • Business Mission and Vision
  • Value proposition
  • Surveys and Expert interviews to validate the idea
  • Business Model Canvas
  • Prototype and validation
  • Minimal Viable Product
  • Presentation Deck and Elevator Pitch

 

Each milestone session was followed by feedback sessions, in which different experts gave their valuable insights, highlighting what they liked, where we could improve and guiding us on the upcoming tasks.

 

Following through the milestones was helpful in a lot of ways, one key lesson I learned from this was regarding Validating the Idea with surveys from customers and expert interviews.

When we talk about customer feedback, I always thought it was necessary to build the MVP (minimum viable product) in order to see the market response by surveying customers who have used the product and proceed accordingly. But with TechTalents we had to first survey, conduct expert interviews and validate the idea way before building the product.

 

Initially, we started with surveys and expert interviews only to reach the milestone, but along the way, the feedback and responses helped us tweak and improve the product. It also proved to be a vital tool to help validate our critical assumptions right at the beginning.

For instance, one of the assumptions we had was that parents would be okay with their children reading on smartphones and tablets, and we could validate this assumption right at the very beginning. Had this not been the case, we would have had to rethink our entire idea, and building the MVP first would have been futile resulting in wasted time and effort.

 

We got excellent feedback from our surveys, and we also got good traction from our interviews with child experts and authors. We appreciated this direct conversation and valuable feedback so much that we decided to do a second round of surveys at a later stage.

 

 Materializing the idea

 

We had highs and lows during our journey. We got a glimpse of the life of an entrepreneur – it was not just about the idea, the product that we built or the changes along the way. We also learned about communicating with each other, working together as a team, handling both positive and negative feedback. Additionally, it was also about experiencing the hustle, we were on track sometimes and at other times we had to put in extra hours and have many late-night discussions to finish a milestone on time.

 

The final presentation

 

Making the final pitch deck and a 30-second video of our elevator pitch, the last milestone of TechTalents, was the easiest part of the challenge. As following through all the other milestones meant we had all the information and clarity needed to make it.

 

Fifteen teams (60 students in total) made it to the end of the program, of which 7 teams were selected to present on the final day. We were elated that we were chosen to present. We had 5 minutes to pitch our idea followed by a 5 minute Q&A session. The final event just like the entire program was virtual and was hosted live on YouTube. My team and I were super happy that Story-Time won the 3rd place at the TechTalents. After the completion of the entire program, we had a final feedback session where we got one-on-one feedback regarding our performance throughout the program. To our further delight, TechQuartier had given all the participant teams a TechQuartier membership, for mentoring and support in building the startup and connecting us with VCs for funding.

 

Be sure to participate in the next edition of TechTalents

 

I am sure as students we all have had ideas that we are passionate about and think could go big, yet we never fully invested the time or effort in making them a reality. We somehow postponed them for tomorrow, waiting to acquire the technical skills first, or finding the right co-founder with the same passion for our ideas. I would highly recommend trying out the next edition of TechTalents. It will give you the first impression of the life of an entrepreneur, in a nourishing and supportive environment with constant feedback, and take you through all steps of the way in building a startup the LEAN way. It will help you understand the feasibility of your idea and will give you the push you need to take it a step closer to becoming a reality.

You can already apply for the third edition of TechTalents!