July 23, 2021

More Than Just a Zoom Call – How to Prepare For a Virtual Program Participation

Written by German Accelerator

Entering a new market is always a big step to take for any company. International expansion is a significant commitment on all levels, and it requires many dedicated resources. Just like you can’t expect to win a marathon without taking the time to train and condition your body, you can’t expect success in international markets if you skip essential preparation steps. To date, German Accelerator has accompanied over 300 startups on their journey to global success and has gathered a lot of experience on what factors to focus on. Here is what you will need to do to get the most out of the virtual program.

1. Get the Basics Done before You Come Over

While it may seem obvious, the German Accelerator team and mentors will want you to demonstrate that you can run a business and clearly present your idea. This means you should have your pitch deck in place, or even better, have different versions of your pitch deck targeted for each of your audience groups. You should have prepared clear, concise pitches for 30 seconds, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes to be able to articulate your company in various settings. These pitches are the shortened version of who you are, what your company does, and what you are looking for from the person to whom you are talking. During the virtual program, the German Accelerator team and mentors will work with you on refining your pitch deck and tailoring it towards the respective markets.

While our programs are running entirely virtual and COVID-19 restrictions still exist in many markets, you may still intend to travel abroad. If so, you will want to check with local travel guidelines, visa restrictions, and precautions you may need to take before traveling. Our team can answer any local questions of where to find accommodation and how to insert yourself into the ecosystem.

2. Maximize Your Mentoring Sessions

What makes the German Accelerator programs so unique, are a tailor-made program experience and individualized one-on-one mentoring hours that we provide to our startups. You can learn an incredible amount from experienced experts and, above all, ask them all the questions that arise throughout your expansion journey. That’s why it’s essential to leverage your mentoring hours and utilize your time wisely. Ahead of every meeting, you should set aside some time to think about which questions to ask. Do your research to find out about the mentors’ backgrounds, where they come from, what they’ve done on a business level, and how you can properly leverage their knowledge of your startup.

Our virtual program will introduce you to entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and the local ecosystem. The meetings you will have with them are meant to ask for feedback and advice on what will make your business successful when expanding internationally. By working with the German Accelerator team, you will be able to gain market insights and identify areas that you will need to work on. You will then be connected to the right mentors to help your startup and not just meet the rolodex of all program mentors.

3. Set Clear Goals

Not all of your team members will be able to attend every call or travel for on-site visits, so it is necessary to prepare as a team and have a clear process. This process could include the following:

  • Define Each of Your Roles – Who is responsible for which task when participating in the program
  • Gather Information in One Place – Determine a person to collect all information in one place, accessible to the entire team
  • Be Transparent – Share information about what is happening in the program openly (both the ups and downs) to get everyone on the same page
  • Establish Fixed Team Meetings – Keep everyone in the loop through a regular meeting cadence
  • Set Goals and Expectations – Clearly communicate goals and set expectations – as milestones are achieved, new milestones can be defined
  • Prepare For Who You Want to Meet – Create a list of local experts or contacts that you would like to meet

4. Make the Most of Local Opportunities

While networking takes a bit more planning when it’s virtual, you can’t just bump into someone at the coffee shop. Even in a virtual world, networking is still super important! Take the opportunity to get in touch with the local ecosystem and leverage the German Accelerator team to make appointments with mentors, investors, and other important contacts. We also recommend participating in as many pitching events as possible to become more confident. To help you become more confident with your pitch, attend pitch training sessions to professionalize further and develop your presentation skills. It is crucial to deliver a flawless pitch at any event.

5. Adapt Your Mindset

Your mindset influences everything in your life, from what you think and feel to how you act and react to the world around you. Your mindset has to be set properly to achieve your goals, or it could hold you back from getting where you want to go.

The first step to having the right mindset during the virtual program is to always be engaged and open to conversations. Gain an understanding of the market you are trying to enter from others with experience and expertise in the area. Use the opportunity to learn about the market and make connections through the German Accelerator network. Be open and receptive to feedback from the mentors and others, who provide helpful and sometimes tough feedback on your product/service or challenge previously held assumptions. Critical feedback is nothing bad; consider it a gift and learn to accept it. Be hungry to learn as much as you can while adjusting items such as your business plan, attitude, logistics, etc. And one thing above all: Have fun!

After becoming as prepared as you can be, there’s nothing left to do besides getting excited about joining one of our German Accelerator virtual programs!