3rd August 2020

Inside our Accelerator: A founder’s experience

Claire Corlett

Joining an accelerator is a big decision for any founder, and with our Accelerator Programme currently open for applications you might be wondering if it’s right for you to apply.  To help you find out a bit more about what it’s like, we spoke to Varun Sarwal, the founder of Hammer, and asked him to share his experience and top tips for anyone thinking about applying.  

What made you apply to the Geovation Accelerator Programme?

Originally, we were looking for a way to work with Ordnance Survey terrain data for some of our early deployments. In our search, we found that we can access OS data for trials and testing 1 year completely free of charge if we were on the Geovation Accelerator Programme. When we looked deeper into the programme, and saw the level of support, network and early funding that came with the programme, it was a no brainer to apply. Besides, the application process was really well thought out!

Describe the experience of being part of the accelerator.

Being a part of the Geovation Accelerator has been instrumental to our growth. Since the programme, our customer base has grown by over 5x and we continue to grow 15% month over month. The Geovation programme helped us amplify our strengths and address our weaknesses immediately. The core workshops organised by the Geovation team were absolutely brilliant in understanding all the different aspects of running a business – engineering, marketing, sales, accountancy and legals to name a few. Above all, we’ve had the privilege of meeting and learning from incredibly talented teams and professionals working at the Geovation Hub. We’ve not come across such a vibrant community elsewhere.

What has been the biggest impact on your business during your time on the programme?

The biggest impact on our business was the realisation that engineering alone does not build a great business. Prior to the programme, we were very much focused on the engineering side of our business. Since we came from an engineering background, we had an engineering bias. Geovation allowed us to see our business more holistically with a near equal focus on all parts of the business. It can be intimidating to learn new skills (sales for instance) but we now take the view that if you’re motivated enough, you can learn almost anything.

As a founder, what have you learned about growing and running a successful startup?

The biggest learning for us has been that as startup founders you need to embrace change and adapt to it as quickly as possible. 5 months into the programme, COVID-19 took over the world which meant that our cohort’s live showcase was cancelled. We made sure to quickly adapt the business to the changing environment and since then we’ve reapplied that learning to all parts of the business. As a startup founder, it doesn’t matter if you can make your business do well at a specific point in time, what matters in the long run is your ability to learn quickly, adapt and be resilient in difficult times.

What advice would you give a founder who is considering applying to the next accelerator programme?

Try and make the most out of the programme. At the end of the day, the accelerator programme is a force-multiplier for your efforts. It’s your company and you have to take the initiative and make things happen. The Geovation programme will support you (even after the programme!) but you have to take the first step on most endeavours. Also, if possible, try to help other people in the Geovation community. Sometimes paying it forward can go a long way.

You can find more information about the Geovation Accelerator and apply to join us here.