Invest in your community: Why I decided to do First Believers

July 9, 2023
WIll Mulholland - First Believers - Startmate

You know those moments that turn your life around? Those experiences that broaden your horizons, connect you with the right people, and set you on a path you never thought possible? That's what Startmate's First Believers program offered me—a wild ride that has opened doors to opportunities I never thought possible. 

As a Product Marketing Manager at eBay, I was keen to immerse myself in the Startup ecosystem. This desire led me to the First Believers program, and now, to building LearnScout - a curated guide to the best online courses for budding entrepreneurs. 

First Believers provided me with a clear understanding of the funding process for startups, helping me to make informed decisions on how successful startups are built. 

But the most rewarding part of the journey? 

The relationships built, the collaborative learning environment, and the collective wisdom I tapped into. Here's why I'm glad I applied for Cohort 4 of First Believers...

What makes the First Believers program unique?

This isn't your average cohort-based course. Over 14 weeks, the First Believers program took us deep into the world of startup investing, equipped us with a $1m fund to actively deploy as a community and provided a hands-on approach to learning. 

Alongside my fellow First Believers, I found myself in the thick of things, reviewing pitch decks, interviewing founders, evaluating and selecting Startmate's S23 Accelerator founders and even voting to decide where the money goes.

One of the highlights of the program was the weekly sessions with startup legends both on the founder and investor side. We learned from some of the top VCs and Angel Investors like Niki Scevak, Rayn Ong and Cheryl Mack about how they source and evaluate deals. 

The founder sessions were equally as fascinating with founders like Charlie Gearside and Kim Teo. They shared insights on how the best founders “inspire money out of people” to secure funding and build companies that grow big, fast.

With Startmate, learning is an immersive experience. We were encouraged to reflect, share key takeaways, and collaborate. This approach made every session feel like a lively debate rather than a lecture and empowered us to grow as well rounded investors. 

The sessions were exciting and we were encouraged to get involved by way of interviewing the Black Bird Giants cohort in a virtual GatherTown and sitting together on Zoom while we reviewed 30+ Accelerator applications. 

Bold and committed visions

Joining First Believers has allowed me to connect with individuals who've shaped the way I approach investing and business:

  • Take Luke Preston, for example. Our paths crossed during an interview for a small bets fund applicant. An automation and manufacturing process whizz, Luke is the go-to guy when something needs to be built at scale. Just chatting with him can spark the most insightful ideas and I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out to him about anything that needs a well thought out manufacturing process.
  • Then there's Michael Watson, founder of Leesy. Michael's journey—from product consultancy to Google, and now, creating his own venture—has been inspiring. One key thing he's taught me is the value of using existing customers as proof when branching into new areas.
  • And let's not forget Brady, Head of Investments at Startmate. His focus on creating a safe and supportive community is remarkable. Brady has shared invaluable steps to help others learn and grow together. This practice is something I plan to inject into all of my future teams and the communities I am a part of.

These few connections, as well as many others, have taught me so many valuable lessons. And as I continue to learn and grow as a Product Marketer, Angel Investor and founder, their insights and experiences will guide my growth.

An invaluable community

During the course, I've established valuable connections and potential partnerships - a priceless benefit to getting looped into the Starmate ecosystem. You're not just meeting people; you're making connections that will likely pay dividends in the future. Founders and investors become more than just faces—they become mentors, syndicate members, even early-stage investors and potential co-founders. 

First Believers is like a shortcut to the heart of the startup ecosystem, giving you an edge and opening doors that could redefine your path. This isn't just networking; it's future-building for you and every lucky duck in your network. Simply put, the people you meet here could be the key to unlocking your next big opportunity.

Startmate has built an engaged Slack community where they share incoming prospective deals, knowledge and insider jokes. There’s even a well updated First Believers member directory that you can refer to if you need to find someone with expertise in a particular category. 

The collective wisdom and brain power available, will no doubt set you up to make well-informed investment decisions. 

Ultimately, First Believers is a mix of theoretical learning and real-world investing, combined with lifelong access to Startmate's community and exceptional deal flow.

What’s next?

As I reflect on my First Believers experience, I can't help but feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be part of this community. The lessons learned, the relationships made, and the insights gained have been invaluable. 

This course fundamentally changed my perspective on startups and investing, and I am eager to apply these lessons in my future pursuits. One project that's been sparked by this program is LearnScout, a platform I've been developing that curates the best online courses for entrepreneurs. 

As I have been shaped by First Believers and the other courses I’ve completed, LearnScout aims to reshape the entrepreneurial journey for others—giving them access to high-quality online courses that open doors to opportunities, just as First Believers did for me.

Are you ready?

Just remember, the world of startups is not just about investing; it's about believing in an idea and taking the leap of faith to see it through. In this ever-changing market, the ability to adapt, learn quickly, and embrace new ideas is what sets successful entrepreneurs and investors apart. 

So, are you ready to take the leap and become a First Believer?

Applications for Cohort 7 of First Believers are now open.

Apply here.

The information provided in this article is of a general nature and for information purposes only and should not be relied upon. It does not constitute financial product advice, investment advice, accounting advice, legal advice, tax advice or any recommendation, solicitation, offer or invitation to acquire or dispose of any financial product, including to retail clients. This article expresses the personal views of the listed author(s) only, and not Startmate or any of its related bodies. Startmate makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information in this article.

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