This was my second go at FI. Last semester I pulled out after suffering the really tough first week but realised that due to personal circumstances wouldn't be able to continue that semester. I still had a burning desire to get Oddswop up and running with as much help and knowledge I could so I reapplied after doing a snap poll with James (FoodOrbit) and Neil (Slidefish) who both graduated from the Spring 2012 class.
The first week I was smart and had some idea of what was to come so left quickly from the pub that first night so I could prepare. It was amazing so many of us made it through the first week. I actually expected a few more drop outs!
From there it was head down working a full time job and working on Oddswop and doing FI. It was very tough but through it all I learned to pitch and be a lot less nervous in front of people. Learned not to rote learn the pitch. Learned how to use some tools better. And just had a great time meeting and talking to the mentors, contacts and my fellow students. I also learned that no one loved marketplaces. Oh and Adeo is really tough. If there is one piece of advice I would give... it's to NOT do office hours with Adeo in the morning before the Mentor review! He's tough not in a mean sort of way. But it really made me think about not even turning up on the night of the Mentor review... But I had prepared my pitch and i thought I'd go down fighting. And down I almost went! Although I presented the pitch well it was all about the Idea that night... and since no one likes a marketplace... I got 2s across the board :( I did get good scores for the presentation but it still meant I got a 'special' assignment. (My advice to anyone is to avoid special assignments at all cost!)
I spent the weekend getting responses to a 15 question survey by begging facebook friends, linkedin contacts, email contacts and paid for survey respondents via google adwords, buying traffic to aytm, buying atym responses, mechanical turk and other means. It was tough. By the end of the weekend I got the numbers I needed (1000) but it was touch and go for a while there.
After that things got a bit easier although there was still the next Mentor Review night which was again an elimination round. But it was around progress. And one thing that I had been doing was progressing Oddswop.
I had a stint as President where I had to (I thought) facilitate our twice weekly meetings -- and got a shlacking when we didn't get our Legal documents done correctly (since when did I have to check all of that as President? Anyway... we got through that although I still lost a team member from that...)
Overall it was a great experience. I met lots of people who I wouldn't normally get access to (and now I feel I can just pick up the phone or drop someone an email), got some fantastic advice which has helped Oddswop get to where it is, have a network of grads whom I can turn to for help and managed to learn along the way!
Early on my husband asked me why I needed to do this and my friends asked me about the futility of some of the tasks. I now look upon the experience fondly like the Karate Kid had to when he was told to wipe on and wipe off. Some of the tasks seem trivial and some of the tasks seem pointless. But at the end of it there is value in all that we went through and did. I still call the program Survivor for Wantrepreneurs but at least this Wantrepreneur is now an almost to be launched Entrepreneur!