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Intense, fast-paced, creative: An inside look at JOLT

March 19, 2013

Ever wonder what it’s like to be part of an accelerator program? On the heels of our successful trip to the LAUNCH event in San Francisco, I thought I’d give you an inside peek into JOLT, MaRS’ accelerator, just as we approach the halfway mark for our Winter 2013 cohort, the second JOLT cohort to date.
We took all six startups in our Winter 2013 cohort to LAUNCH and, while there, I had the opportunity to network with top-notch investors like Alfred Lin from Sequoia Capital, and with program directors from top tech accelerators such as the Founder Institute, 500 Startups and TechStars.

Other than the usual discussions of industry trends and access to capital, we also touched upon the intrinsic factors of an accelerator—everything from speakers, mentors, office space and the behind-the-scenes team to the social elements of building a successful accelerator. It was an honour sharing all of JOLT’s key milestones and discussing MaRS’ unique advisory model with thought leaders like Don Dodge, in addition to sharing key JOLT program highlights.

The author with Don Dodge of Google

Here’s a brief look into the DNA of our Winter 2013 cohort.

Intensity: Fast-paced, innovative, creative programming

Our second cohort started in February, and in a mere seven weeks, here’s what our entrepreneurs have been put through:

1. Weekly workshops We’ve had a range of presenters, including entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts from Chicago, New York, Silicon Valley and Toronto join our startups to teach the key elements of building business models, product development, design and branding.

Presenters have included: AngelList, IDEO, Facebook Canada, Dan Martell, Erin Bury, Wave Accounting, Darrell Whitelaw, Jet Cooper, The Working Group, One Design Company, Derek Smyth and Alistair Croll.

2. Weekly media training Our startups are recorded weekly for JOLT TV, one of the features of the Financial Post’s JOLT page, providing them with media and press training, and helping them hone their communication skills. It has been one of the best opportunities for our startups to garner feedback and polish their startup story.

3. Mentors The startups got to know their lead mentors during an interactive cooking class and a constructive mentor mash event held at JOLT mid-February. Since then, our mentor network has offered crucial support to the six startups.

4. LAUNCH 2013 As mentioned above, at the beginning of this month our startups flew to Silicon Valley to attend LAUNCH, a.k.a. ‘the best place to launch your startup, raise money and learn about starting a company.’  That’s four days in the valley with 5000+ top investors and entrepreneurs exposed to JOLT. It was a great opportunity for our startups to put themselves in the broader context of the global startup ecosystem, develop relationships with partners and ‘get out of the building,’ as Steve Blank would say. Read Jennifer Marron’s LAUNCH recap for further details.

That’s a total of 200 hours of programming, mentorship and presentations in an intense, fast-paced and creative learning environment where the startups are quickly adapting and hacking away at their business ideas.

Culture: The JOLT manifesto

Ambitious startups like to align themselves with partners that have a strong culture of entrepreneurial success. From day one, JOLT startups know that it’s up to them to get the most out of their JOLT experience, which means attending workshops and participating in JOLT-led events.

With less than nine weeks left to go until Demo Day, you can catch real-time updates about our program and our startups via Twitter, the JOLT blog and the Financial Post’s JOLT page!

Till next time!

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Sarah Katyal

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Sarah is the program manager at JOLT. She is passionate about the intersection of digital technology and social change, and has been recognized by the Harvard Business School and Chatelaine magazine as one of the leading voices for young entrepreneurs.

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