What Happens At Dreamit?
We often get asked questions like... "What happens during a typical week at Dreamit?" "Is it worth it?" "What value can startups gain from joining the program?"
Dreamit, like most other top-ranked accelerators, provides startups with an intensive 14-week immersive experience, including education, mentorship, and fundraising. Like other accelerators, we aim to compress years’ worth of learning-by-doing into just a few months. Like other accelerators, we put on a large demo day where startups get exposure to investors and potential customers.
But that is where the similarities to other accelerators end. Dreamit is not your typical startup accelerator. We are hyper-focused on helping startups with a product in market connect with enterprise customers in meaningful ways.
In contrast to most incubators and accelerators, Dreamit seeks startups with market-ready products and with founders who are ready to scale go to market. These teams tend to be larger and already settled in an office when entering Dreamit. Because of this unique stage, we do not require that teams co-locate with us in our Philly or NYC hubs for the full program.
That being said, the ~10 virtual weeks of the program are still intensive and startups can expect to be in constant contact with Dreamit team members. Here are some of the core components of the week to week virtual portion of the program:
Weekly Meetings with Your Managing Director
Every week during the Dreamit cycle, you’ll dedicate a couple of hours to one-on-one briefings with a managing director with domain experience in healthcare or urban tech (our two primary tracks for startups). Consider these meetings like “virtual office hours” for your startup. From the beginning of the program, we figure out the biggest problems facing your particular company and then plan the meetings around overcoming those issues.
These are are some of the things you might discuss and achieve during MD meetings:
How do refine your product positioning and go-to-market strategy
Customer pitch reviews
Strategizing about how to incorporate insights, evidence, and advice from our customer network and enterprise partners about what they actually want from your product.
Marketing strategy to enable founders to tell their stories that effectively appeal to customers and to build a story that will generate interest from the press and general public.
White-boarding sessions to overcome specific problems.
Tricks and traps to gaining customer feedback critical and incorporating that feedback into the product.
Fundraising strategy, including how much should they raise and from whom. About half of startups graduating from Dreamit each cycle go on to raise a Series A soon after completing the program using these strategies.
There is no formal pre-set agenda for MD Meetings, but the content tends to be in line with what is happening during the Dreamit acceleration cycle. As you approach the Customer Immersion portion of the program, for instance, you will be focused on how to present your product to particular customers and position yourself to form a partnership, build a pilot program, or gain a customer.
Weekly Webinars with Top Leaders
Each week in our #Get2A webinar series, founders have the opportunity to interact with C-suite executives of large organizations, founders of successful startups (post Series A), marketing leaders, and other functional experts.
Founders get an opportunity to guide the conversation and establish connections with leaders during these roundtable discussions. Take this conversation from our healthcare program as one example.
This is representative of the types of guests we bring to the table for startups to work with. In our webinar on the topic of Creating a Successful Pilot in Healthcare, panelists Eric Steager, Director of Innovation at IBX, Todd Dunn, Director of Innovation at Intermountain Healthcare, and Roy Rosin, Chief Innovation Officer at Penn Medicine, gave an insider’s view on how chief innovation officers make decisions about implementing pilots, how they think about failure or product validation, how to broach the question of pricing or paid pilots, and how to accelerate the process for getting your pilot launched.
Introductions to Members of the Dreamit Network
Dreamit has one of the largest networks of alumni in tech. With over 300 companies having completed the program and more new faces added to the network every year, the Dreamit family is only getting stronger. We intentionally look for founders who we believe know how to take advantage of this extensive network.
It goes without saying that you will form a bond with the other startups in your particular cohort, but on Day 1 you will also join the Dreamit Slack community and have the ability to communicate with alumni from all over the world who are eager to help out early stage companies. This is an invaluable resource for sharing resources for hiring, fundraising, and operational issues.
Customer Immersion Weeks
The cornerstone of the Dreamit program is our 2-week customer immersions, where startups in our accelerator meet, pitch, and partner with large enterprise organizations. For our healthcare companies, that means some of the largest and most innovative payers, providers, and pharma companies. For our urban tech companies, that means the leading real estate developers, construction firms, architects, and design firms in the country.
Over 60% of our healthcare startups will graduate from Dreamit with a new partner or discussions set in motion to engage in pilot programs. The success rate for Dreamit hinges both on the quality of startups coming through the program and the innovative partners that Dreamit works with.
Read more about our health-focused Customer Immersion Program in this in-depth post about how the program works.
The Investor Roadshow
The Dreamit program culminates with an investor roadshow. Think of this as similar to how private companies operate pre-IPO. They embark on an investor roadshow to convince institutional investors to commit to buying their stock. For large private companies, this is an extremely effective way to ensure that their IPO’s are successful.
At Dreamit, we’ve found that investor roadshows with one on one VC meetings are great at helping small startups raise funding. In fact, Dreamit is the first tech accelerator to have its portfolio companies go on an investor roadshow. This two-week program actually startups about at about week 10 of the program. Dreamit managing directors teach you the ins and outs of fundraising, how to create the perfect pitch deck, how to answer the difficult questions that investors are likely to ask, and more. If you have questions about how to improve your pitch deck or prep for investor meetings, you have a dedicated team to help.
Startups then give the managing directors and operators at Dreamit a wish list of investors they'd like to meet with. After submitting an investor wish list, our team helps you add more investors to the list that are a good fit for your product and industry. Then, Dreamit’s managing directors and operators set up 20-minute to 1-hour pitch meetings with as many investors on your wish list as possible. Over the course of the two-week roadshow, you can expect to have at least 15 to 30 in-depth meetings with venture capitalists and angel investors.
The week before the investor roadshow is dedicated to intense pitch prep. You have an opportunity to practice your pitch in front of managing directors, executives, and members of our investor network. In these pitch prep meetings, our team will help you perfect your pitch by providing feedback, questioning the assumptions in your deck, and asking you all of the questions that investors might have.
By the time you start the investor roadshow, you’ll be prepared to impress VC’s and raise funding. On the actual roadshow, you’ll have several long meetings with investors each day. Very few, if any, of the investors you meet with on the roadshow will commit to funding your company during that first meeting. In fact, it’ll probably take another two to three months to actually close your round. But these meetings are the first step in building strong relationships with some of the leading VCs who dictate the flow of capital and can make or break a startup.
Learn More and Apply to Dreamit Health | Program FAQ
By Charles LaCalle, Head of Startup Sourcing and Community