Flexibility for Founders and a Focus on Growth: A Week-by-Week Overview of the Dreamit Program
If your startup has traction, you probably don’t have time to join a program that requires you to move to a new location for a few months and spend ten to thirty hours per week in “classes” or “coaching sessions.”
The all-consuming, day-to-day structure of most accelerators was not built to accommodate the needs of startups that are actively selling and already finding product-market fit with their initial customers or pilot partners.
Dreamit crafted a “sleeves-up” venture fund model and accelerator program that enables founders to acquire new enterprise customers, raise venture funding, and implement practices that allow them to scale their processes while managing the other responsibilities they have as a founder.
At a high-level, there are three pillars to the Dreamit program:
Customer Sprints™ - Throughout these two weeks, founders travel to several cities to meet with potential enterprise-level customers, in their offices. Teams meet with C-level and SVP-level executives at approximately twenty to thirty enterprise customers in your industry to accelerate relationship building and shorten sales cycles by months.
Investor Sprints™ - During the final two weeks of the Dreamit program, founders embark on an Investor Sprint, comprised of curated, one-on-one meetings with top-tier venture capital firms on the US east and west coasts. In recent cycles, each founder has met with between fifteen and twenty investors. These meetings take place in the investors’ offices and accelerate the fundraising process by allowing you to meet with and quickly get to know potential investors who may invest or even lead your next round. Leading up to the Investor Sprint, founders go through an intense prep process including Mock VC Meetings™ to make sure they ready for tough questions that arise during the Investor Sprint.
Coaching - During weekly MD Meetings, startups work with a highly experienced Managing Director and Program Manager to pressure test key assumptions, refine their customer-facing and investor-facing pitches, and work through the challenges that arise when scaling their company.
We know founders have little time to spare, so we designed each of these key program pillars with a complete focus on helping startups acquire customers and capital in an efficient way. To help you understand how the Dreamit program moves your business forward, here’s a look at the week-by-week of a typical cycle.
Week 1: Kick-Off Week
Kick-Off Week provides an opportunity to get to know the other companies in your cohort, listen to highly pragmatic and impactful presentations from the Dreamit Managing Directors, and do a deep dive into your business to identify potential weaknesses and areas for improvement so we all know where to focus energy during the program.
Time Commitment: Three to five hours of on-site work with Dreamit team members in Philadelphia each day for 3-4 days. Founders have time during these days to focus on their startups, but at least one founder must attend the Kickoff Week.
Weeks 2-5: Customer Sprint Prep
During Customer Sprint prep, your Managing Director and Program Manager prepare you for meeting with discerning enterprise organizations by critically analyzing and reshaping how to best present your company and product. We’ll dig deeply into how you present your problem statement, value proposition, differentiation, use cases, and more. We find most startups need deep changes in how they talk to customers in order to grow through pipeline materially. The Dreamit team will challenge your key assumptions just like a customer might test them, and they will provide suggestions to streamline and hone every aspect of your customer-facing pitch.
Most companies come into Dreamit with early sales under their belts yet still see a dramatic improvement in interest levels from customers after undergoing Customer Sprint Prep. This work helps founders to drive conversations forward to secure pilots, proofs of concept, and sales more quickly.
Time Commitment: One to two one-hour remote video calls with your Managing Director and Program Manager each week along with however much time you need between calls to put the recommendations and learnings into action.
Weeks 6 & 7: The Customer Sprint
Dreamit’s customer network includes top enterprise organizations in our core verticals, such as Independence Blue Cross, Strategic Property Partners, Penn Medicine, American Express, IBM, Intermountain Healthcare, Blackstone, Related, and more. The products these organizations use often become the industry standard. During a two-week Dreamit Customer Sprint, you visit the offices of these organizations to meet senior decision makers, discuss pilots and/or sales, and initiate partnerships.
Time Commitment: Over one or two weeks, founders meet two to four customers each day. These in-person meetings last anywhere from two to three hours, and take places in several cities, often including New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, D.C. and Tampa. If accepted into Dreamit, you must complete at least one week of the Customer Sprint during your cohort. If you can’t spend two weeks in nonstop meetings with customers, you have the option to defer one week of Customer Sprints to a later program cycle.
Weeks 8 -11: Investor Sprint Prep
In advance of the Investor Sprint, Dreamit startups receive intensive pitch prep from their Managing Director and Program Manager to refine their stories, sharpen their decks, and challenge their most essential underlying assumptions. After pitch prep, founders go through demanding Mock VC Meetings with the Dreamit team and experienced investors from the Dreamit community. We usually see deeply material changes to startup pitch decks, how they answer questions, and how they handle themselves in investor meetings.
Time Commitment: One to three one-hour virtual video calls with your Managing Director and Program Manager each week, plus any additional time a founder might need to make changes to presentations. Three or four Mock VC Meetings conducted via video calls that typically last approximately thirty minutes each.
Weeks 12 & 13: Investor Sprint
The Dreamit program culminates in a two-week, bi-coastal Investor Sprint. Founders meet with twenty to thirty investors in one-on-one, in-person meetings at investors’ offices. Dreamit’s Investor Sprint is a faster, more efficient way to build relationships with investors, raise capital, find lead investors, and get meaningful introductions. This Investor Sprint has proven much more effective than the standard “Demo Day” or pitch event offered by most programs.
Time Commitment: Two weeks of meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, New York City, and possibly Boston and/or DC depending on your vertical. You will likely have two to four meetings with investors each day, typically lasting anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour each. If you can’t spend two weeks in nonstop investor meetings or you are not yet ready to raise your round, you have the option to defer one or both weeks of Investor Sprints to a later program cycle.
Putting It All Together
Over fifty percent of the Dreamit program takes place virtually. Even with the maximum five weeks of in-person work and meetings during the fourteen-week program, founders have plenty of time outside of meetings to focus on building their businesses. Additionally, Dreamit allows founders to defer one week of the Customer Sprint and one or both weeks of the Investor Sprint to best suit your needs and time constraints.
While some accelerator programs require startups to co-locate for three to four months and attend countless hours of unhelpful presentations and mentor sessions each week, Dreamit’s structure allows founders to stay where they are for the vast majority of the program and tailor the timing of onsite Sprint weeks to best fit your needs.