We’re drawing closer to the start of our program and we’re beginning a crucial aspect of the application process — interviewing potential startups. We’d first like to congratulate you on making it to this stage of the program. If you think things are going to get easier from this point onward, you’ve got your work cut out for you. But we’re here to help you succeed, so we’ve prepared a detailed guide to the in-person interview process.
Here are some things to remember:
MAKE THE MOST OF THE TIME YOU’VE GOT
We don’t have a lot of time for introductions and pleasantries. We’d like to devote as much time as we can to your team and what you’re building. So, if we jump straight into that, please don’t take it personally. We still like you!
Each interview lasts only 10 short minutes. This allows us to assess all our founding teams fairly, giving them all a chance to present their ideas and product. It’s in your interest to allow your interviewers to cover as much ground as they possibly can. As the time is so short, we recommend that you come in without presentations and rehearsed speeches.
We will ask to see a demo, so practise it until you can confidently execute it, blindfolded without any technical glitches — a failed demo hurts worse than no demo. But you shouldn’t rely on just that to communicate what you’re doing. Instead, come prepared to engage in insightful conversations about what you’re building. Write down a few of the key points you want to address and present the most important information first.
PRESENT YOUR INFORMATION WITH AUTHENTICITY
We don’t want you to sell your product or idea to us. So don’t present your grandiose plans, instead clearly communicate the basics. Your ability to explain what you’re doing will reveal your understanding. You should have a deep awareness of the market and the problem you’re trying to solve. It is worth investing your time in trying to prepare a concise, explanation of your vision for what you’re building. Devote your time to learning everything you can about your domain.
What we’re looking for is tangible passion and energy to put in the hard work as you pursue progress.
We will definitely ask you “what does your company do?”. Make sure you have a great answer to this. Lasting 30 seconds at most. Keep your language plain and simple — refrain from using jargon, acronyms, and buzzwords. What will also help your case is the inclusion of a practical example.
We want you to have an awareness of the potential obstacles in your road to success. If you blatantly dismiss the existence of difficulties, we will interpret that as a lack of thorough research. If you truly are building for better, you must be acquainted with the holes in the existing system. Of course, you can’t know all there is to know. If there is a question that you find you cannot answer, explain your approach to finding the answer, instead. What we are looking for is your response to setbacks and an unconventional, intelligent approach to problem solving. Don’t worry if your learnings or findings are very industry-specific. We’re open to discovering and learning new things, so provide us with all the interesting details and insight you’ve gathered.
GIVE US SOLID EVIDENCE
We want to see evidence that your company and your product have the potential to succeed.
In order to measure this, we will be looking for two key things — a strong team and concrete traction metrics.
A solid team is one that can generate ideas and iterations of these ideas, while demonstrating persistence, resourcefulness and the willingness to learn. Everything that you have created and will go on to build depends on this.
Traction is a great indicator of potential success. Give us practical, real world examples of the traction you have gained — one that is tested on actual consumers will hold far greater value.
We also want to see in-depth knowledge of the market that you’re catering to.
Where are your new users coming from? What makes them try you out? What does your conversion rate look like? Why are some users reluctant? What are the main things that users really want? What has surprised you about the behavior of users?
BE PREPARED TO PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD
Most importantly, PRACTICE — with people who are not easily impressed, with the ones who are sceptical. This will help you really refine the points you want to present.
Because we’re not going to go easy on you. We will throw tough questions at you from the start. The kind that will test your endurance, problem solving abilities, intelligence, product and market knowledge, and everything in between.
That said, interviews tend to take their own shape, so don’t worry too much if it doesn’t turn out the way you expected it to.
During this short interview, your success will be determined by your ability to provide us with a clear understanding about your idea and convince us that your team has the strength and the resilience that it takes to build an unsinkable business.