It was August 2020–our first interview with Techstars. Hasbi Asyadiq, our CEO, along with Anita (CCO of Assemblr) and Risnandar (CTO of Assemblr) could feel their heart pounding as they were about to start the session. At that point, the trio knew there's no turning back. But, little did they know that it led us to what we are today.
Techstars, apparently, became one of the sponsors of the event, and Hasbi visited their booth to ask a few things. Although feeling enlightened, he had this one thought going on his mind.
"My impression was like, 'Wow, Techstars is very huge. We'll probably never make it.' I mean, they're on a global scale, and I guess the possibility for us to join them will be very rare."
But, what happened in the past stays in the past. Three years passed by, and 'the 2020 Hasbi' thought that Assemblr had steadily found its pace in the industry. That's when he felt pretty confident to step up into the challenge.
"If we're talking about Techstars, we know it's been around for a long time. And for a fact, a lot of companies that graduated from its program already became worldwide unicorns. Techstars also has a global presence with a global market. So, those things pretty much sum up our motivation in applying to Techstars," Hasbi further explained.
Founded in 2006, Techstars is one of the biggest startup accelerators worldwide from America. Until now, they have accepted a total of 2,379 companies to join their accelerator programs.
It's not our first time participating in an interview for a startup accelerator. Therefore, this kind of experience is definitely not something new. Back in 2017, we also had an interview with the well-known Y Combinator, but the odds were simply not in our favor.
Despite having experienced an interview session with YC previously, their journey with Techstars was like no other. It took them around five months to complete their interview process. Yes, a long, long journey, it was.
"For months, we went through five interview sessions, facing different people from Techstars and their alumni. I remember that the first four interviews took an hour to finish, and the discussions we had were super detailed."
The process was, indeed, not the easiest way they could possibly ask. However, all those struggles seemed to pay off when the day of the announcement arrived.
Hasbi still recalls that moment. At the end of November 2020, the trio anxiously waited for the result. They only wished for one thing: to secure their seat in the program.
They're fully aware that Techstars has a very global network, and it will be beneficial for Assemblr to be mentored by different experts to scale us up in the industry.
As much as how anxious they felt that day, at the same time, Hasbi was also quite optimistic.
"To be honest, deep down in my heart, my guts kept telling me that we'll be accepted. Even though we're still a pioneer startup, we have strong tractions and well-established corporate structure. As the technology keeps advancing, sooner or later, I believe we will rise and shine in the society."
The long, awaited moment has finally arrived, as they received the congratulatory e-mail from Techstars, notifying that Assemblr has been selected to join Techstars Hub71 Accelerator. For Hasbi, Anita, and Risnandar, it seemed like the most rewarding e-mail they've ever read.
Along with the other nine startups across the world, we successfully got in with a very small chance, with only less than 2% of the applicants accepted into the program. In addition to that, we're also very grateful to be the only Indonesian startup in the line up.
Regarding those things, Hasbi told us that it was like a dream come true. "It feels amazing, and I'm very humbled to experience this opportunity. We joined an accelerator that gave birth to top-notch unicorns, so that's something that we could never imagine. And somehow, the fact that they selected us, means that we're validated to have a huge potential in the market. So, personally, I also feel relieved," Hasbi explained.
As of today, we're already in the third week of learning in the program. There are still around nine weeks left, but they're definitely not showing any signs of slowing down.
Although it's still quite hard to juggle between his working life and Techstars-life, Hasbi believes that it's a chance that not everyone can experience. "This happens once in a lifetime, so obviously, I will never complain no matter how exhausting it is. We'd better not waste this chance," Hasbi said.
In line with Techstars' value, which is 'Do More Faster', Hasbi and friends are also expected and taught to move faster in the industry.
"What I learn is, it's totally fine to make mistakes. But, the most important thing is how we can spot and realize the mistakes quickly, and then iterate them right after."
Overall, Hasbi shares that these past three weeks in Techstars have been mind-blowing, especially as the Mentor Madness session – which is the session that Hasbi looks forward to the most – is already starting.
Lastly, Hasbi also has his own goal in store for Assemblr in the future.
"Actually, I only have one goal – that Assemblr can be widely used on a global scale, with a huge audience as well. I know it's not an easy thing to do, especially we're aiming for a huge market. But, I strongly believe that people look for values, and somehow, I picture that our products can offer the values they're looking for. Hence, as people become more aware of us, hopefully, we will secure our place on the global scale."
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