We always get asked what happens after a 3 Day Startup program.
This past March, after years of experimenting with post-3DS programing, 3 Day Startup answered that question with an official follow on program through the US Embassy Brasilia: a 3-day Checkpoint program in Belem, Brazil.
The program was run by 3DS facilitator, Aleksander Levental, a former participant whose idea has turned into Feathr, a company that has raised millions of dollars and is growing rapidly. With Aleksander, 40 participants at varying stages in their ventures, and fantastic local mentors, Checkpoint Belem answered important questions about how to move forward from the initial steps of entrepreneurship.
And it’s been through quite an evolution.
As Maia Donohue, Senior Program Manager and the brain behind Checkpoint, describes, “The development of checkpoint started quite a bit before the Belem, multi-day version came into being. I started by putting together a 1 hour talk for a week or two after the 3DS program based on problems that we were consistently seeing with participants keeping their teams together. And we noticed that all of it was really preventable stuff like fighting over equity a week after the program.
We were also hearing from mentors pretty consistently that the teams don’t know what they want or how to successfully interface with a mentor when advancing their venture.”
3 Day Startup had run several of these 1 hour checkpoint sessions with Geekdom in San Antonio and at UT Austin after standard 3DS programs. And, while those sessions were largely beneficial to participants, Maia and Alexis Taylor –– one of our 3DS Program Managers who was instrumental in the development of Checkpoint –– saw an opportunity to make the experience more interactive and foster more growth in the individuals and their ventures.
The program itself centered around team formation, strengths assessment, mentorship, and education about the investment landscape for ventures.
For the strengths-finding, Maia and Alexis incorporated the Gallup-affiliated BP-10 assessment, which not only helps participants find and understand their strengths, but gives them a vocabulary for how to talk about them with team members and potential investors.
And for Belem, Walter Amadera, the Gallup BP10 Strengths Coach, fly in from Sao Paolo and deliver the workshop to them personally.
But the section of Checkpoint that not only makes up the bulk of the program but also offers the most value to participants is the curated mentorship module and full day of mentorship during the program. This module is geared towards helping CEOs and startup founders take charge of mentorship meetings and form goals for their mentor relationships.
As Maia describes, “For the mentorship module, we invited the participants to a folder that had a modularized outreach plan that they could submit to a mentor. This email showed them how to set the pace, the expectations, and what you wanted to get out of the session with mentors before they ever meet. This exercise helped participants understand what they needed to do to be a good mentee. They each wrote their own version of the email and put it in the file, and when the mentors met with them they opened up that email and used it as a reference point for their meeting.
I think this is important because, at 3DS itself, mentors sign up not knowing who the teams are, who the participants are, and not knowing what they’re going to get. And that’s fine for the weekend. But that changes after 3DS when it’s a mentor’s personal time and a venture trying to get off the ground.”
Helping teams understand this change and prepare for it is invaluable to participants.
And the response to the program?
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
As participant Mariana Campos, founder of Vou Me Casei! and 3DS alum describes, “Checkpoint was the opportunity to go deeper into my project, to get everything that my partner and I have done since last year’s 3DS and talk, share experiences, and get new insights on the growth of our venture.”
“The program fulfilled needs that they had and covered both known and unknown gaps in their learning.” Maia explains, “Participants at Checkpoint have very specific questions, and Checkpoint is designed to provide them with the materials and mentors to help answer them and grow their individual ventures.”
The Checkpoint program in Belem followed up on a previous 3DS standard program, and that is significant to the structure of Checkpoint — which takes advantage of lessons students learn at the standard program such as customer discovery, rapid prototyping, and market size.
The learning doesn’t stop after a 3DS program. And while a standard program is an excellent springboard for students –– and an invaluable learning experience –– if teams want to take their venture to the next level, sometimes they need a little help learning to swim.
To learn more Checkpoint or to inquire about bringing one to your school, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.