Though different, the two of them covered similar ground and did similar exercises. And I saw the same opportunities being missed in both.
The problem comes from good intentions, namely to spend more time working on the product. That intention means that the techies would take any opportunity to not attend the sessions laid on by the accelerator so that they could do some “real work”.
For the vast majority of the teams, any session that wasn’t specifically targeted at a technical audience wouldn’t have any of their technical team present. This means they miss out on the opportunity to participate in exercises such as refining or redefining the direction of their business, defining their company’s values, learning how to do customer interviews properly. The list goes on and on.
I’ve long believed that in order to deliver the maximum value you need to fully understand all the motivations and forces within and on a business. Taking part in all sessions, not just the technical ones, will help you understand you business even more deeply than you already do. Plus, if any insights are found or changes in direction start come to light, you’ll have all the context of why and how they came to be as you were there; allowing you to make better decisions about the product. You’ll also have had a hand in them as you were present.
If the insights discovered are big enough, you’ll have wasted your time working on the previous vision of the product anyway. That happens more often than you would think, and even from teams you thought had their product nailed already so don’t think “that won’t happen to us”!
Of course, you should take advantage of any technical support made available to you, expand your network of people you can pick the brain of to include the other teams on the accelerator. Just don’t miss out on the value of the non-technical part of the course too.
Hell, once you’ve sold this company for a billion dollars you might want to get back on the startup roller coaster, but this time as CEO. At that point the non-technical sessions you sat through this time will become even more valuable.