All Right Girl, Time to Sell Yourself!

Application ecosystem

Happy Tuesday Quoksters! (trying on another nickname)

It has been application overload lately! Like for real. Years ago, when I was first starting out and thought that I needed money to bring my ideas to life I would apply for a ton of stuff! I stopped because the experience left me feeling like the time was wasted. Here is why illustrated in a diagram:

Luckily I figured out a way to build, learn and grow little by little, using the resources that I had. I’m back to applying for these opportunities because I’m seeing many grants, and programs out these days that are really speaking to me! I feel like I fit their criteria and that they have put together their offerings to support people “like me.”

History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, People Do

It used to upset me that after spending all that time putting my application together they couldn’t spend even a few minutes letting me know how I could improve. I feel like that action is in direct conflict with the values they claim to have. I understand that they get hundreds of applications, and providing meaningful feedback requires time, especially because everyone’s situation is unique.

It’s a Problem

If even a small amount of time was spent by those putting the programs together to address this problem, the return on that investment would be high. By giving feedback in some way to applicants the learning process is accelerated.

How can an accelerator, a bootcamp, a grant program, etc claim to be dedicated to supporting founders like myself if they can’t commit to doing one of the most important things that is necessary for a founder to grow?

It’s like saying: “you should be on a board of directors because it would be really great for your resume, but to get on a board of directors you have to have been on a board of directors.”

May I Offer Starting Point Solutions?

Now I’m not one to point out someone’s ugly baby without being proactive. So here are some initial ideas for anyone that is in a position of power in these programs.

  • While reading the applications record yourself and think out loud. Make that video available to the founder to review. Vulnerable I know. Puts you at risk of backlash, yes most certainly. Will test you and your character because we are truly who we are when no one is watching? Yes.

If you can’t do this, you might not be the best person to be reviewing applications like mine. I’m sure you have something to offer in support, but maybe you shouldn’t be choosing who gets access to that knowledge, money, or network. IMHO.

  • Have a radio button list of options that each application reviewer selects from when closing out the accepted/denied process.

Example:

Accepted yes or no? If no, why not? Select from choices, and have an “other” option where the reviewer can write in a quick sentence with reasoning.

The reviewer’s response should be sent to the applicant (this can be automated surely) and you can keep the reviewer anonymous. It will take 1-2 minutes.

  • At a minimum, give feedback to those that ask for it. Don’t ghost us.

It’s a Mental Health Opportunity

It’s experiences like these that make people feel frustrated. Like they don’t belong and misunderstood. This challenge is not exclusive to founders alone and it goes on both sides.

Having difficult conversations, or telling someone bad news is not fun. I don’t envy those that have to do it. I understand that we are all just doing our best.

If you have ever felt like this, QUOKA is being built to support you. Holla at your girl.

Knowledge is the real MVP

I applied for three different things in the last couple of weeks, inspiring me to write this post. If I don’t get them, I will ask for feedback. Heck, maybe I’ll post my applications moving forward here so ANYONE can chime in. Like I really want to know! Tell me my baby is ugly people!! Would you?

The point is if I’m not a good fit for your program, and you want me to be in the future, the most valuable thing to me isn’t your money. It isn’t your network, it isn’t your “whatever you’re offering”. It is information. Knowledge.

Until next time,

M