On February 8, 2022, a group of representatives from the 14 participating companies gathered at Twin Ignition to celebrate a successful five-month cohort experience. With beverages in hand and smiles all around, cohort members shared stories, toasted to growth, and received one of the most prestigious awards they’re sure to ever get — a BETA Banana Award.
The evening kicked off with a statement of thanks and appreciation for our 2021 Strategic Partners (Target, JPMorgan Chase, and 3M), Twin Ignition leadership (Seth Peter, Ben Rasmussen, and Scott Aubitz), Cihan Behlivan (our Entrepreneur In Residence), and the entire Fall 2021 Cohort crew from our Executive Director, Shelisa Demuth.
Then, with Behlivan on the mic and our Managing Director Kelly Schultze cradling a basketful of yellow fruit (well, a little green — they were fresh!), it was time for the BETA Banana Awards. These fun accolades were doled out in the very-graduation form of superlatives — “most likely to…” — and were voted on by the Fall 2021 Cohort members. You can find the full rundown of the potassium-rich ceremony at the end of this post.
Next up, an opportunity for the Fall 2021 Cohort members to share their stories and thoughts about the accelerator experience. And share they did. Davis Clark, Founder and CEO of Futuremodel, discussed his journey from Minnesota to the Bay Area and back again, likening his finding of the startup world to first reading about his ADD (“Oh my god, this is so me.”).
“It's just been an extraordinary opportunity of feeling both literally back at home but also feeling community in the entrepreneurial space that you don't find in the Bay Area,” Clark said. “It's just been really warming and encouraging and a huge force and drive as we've been building our empire.”
“Beyond programming, being in the cohort with all of you and your smiling faces, always being so warming and welcoming and wanting to extend the hand to help with other people in the Cohort was really important to me,” Hampton said. “I really appreciate all of you for being in the group with us.”
But although the evening was full of those warm sentiments, the Fall 2021 Cohort members are clearly familiar with the hardships of the startup lifestyle. Several of the founders, such as Pejman Ghorbanzade (Founder of Touca) discussed the tough-as-nails work needed to build a business from the ground up, and the emotional support needed to get through it all.
“Subconsciously, I've been thinking about what I’ve learned over the past year. Most importantly, whether it was worth it or not,” Ghorbanzade said of running Touca full time. “Right now, as I'm speaking with you, I'm sleepless. I do need therapy. But I do think that it was worth it. Startups are very hard, but they're also very powerful… Having communities like this is very helpful, because it's not just the educational things that you learn — it's more about the emotional support you get.”
IntelligentRX Founder and CEO Thomas Kosgei echoed a similar sentiment but focused on the challenge of scaling.
“One person once said that actually starting a startup is easy but building one that will be able to scale is the hard part,” Kosgei said. “I'm just very thankful for the programming, and hopefully we can all take that learning and really implement it and be able to build something that can be big and scalable.”
As the event neared its close, Behlivan took the mic to pass along a final bit of wisdom. There were no burn rate stats, revenue figures, or investment strategies here — his words came straight from the heart.
“As startup founders, we need to make peace with our vulnerability,” Behlivan said. “The more vulnerable you are, the more weaknesses you understand, the more questions you ask, and the more help you get. So, don't scare off your vulnerability. Don't call it a weakness. It's not.”
We are extremely proud of the hard work the Fall 2021 BETA Cohort put into the experience, and we can’t wait to see the continued growth and impact these founders are sure to have themselves and the support they are sure to provide to others. 🎓
Are you interested in participating in a BETA Cohort? Read more about the process here!
Fall 2021 BETA Cohort Banana Awards
Most likely to simultaneously help feed the world while closing their investment round.
Most likely to make the world a more equitable and inclusive place.
Most disruptive business model.
Most likely to have a film made about their startup journey.
Most likely to have their product endorsed by a celebrity.
Shark Tank Award
Most likely to be acquired by Mark Cuban.
Most likely to start their own accelerator program.
Most likely to be a product you use every day to keep you calm, purposeful, and zen.
Most likely to appear in GQ.
Most likely to appear in a travel magazine and coordinate the best BETA destination reunion.
Social Butterfly Award
Most likely to double their network connections at a BETA Tuesday event.
Most likely to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Early Bird Gets the Worm Award
Most likely to show up to the party early and be punctual to all business meetings.
Best Elevator Pitch Award
Most informative and most entertaining elevator pitch.