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A day in my life working on the IBM HyperProtect Accelerator program

By Salma Necib posted Mon June 14, 2021 10:51 AM


As a Startup Ecosystem Consultant at Village Capital, my role is to work collaboratively with our team to create the right support system for
datatech for good startups. Most of the time, I am focused on the IBM HyperProtect accelerator program: I am the point of contact for Cohort 2, which includes a total of 15 startups who are leveraging highly sensitive data to improve the quality of and access to digital, financial, and healthcare services.

So, what’s it like to run an online accelerator program? I get asked this question a lot by people in my network. I’d say, in all honesty, that managing a cohort of 15 startups in 4 different time zones - in an online setting - comes with its fair share of technical hiccups. Preparation and coordination are key success factors.

Here’s a sneak peek at a random day working on the IBM HyperProtect Accelerator program:

7:00 AM: I am not a morning person

The one thing that gets me going in the morning: my coffee and fresh “paté” from La Brioche, my favorite 7 min-walk bakery in Menzah5

I wake up to the first beeping notes of the alarm. I reach out immediately and turn it off. In an effort to restore a semblance of a decent sleeping routine, I have made the conscious decision to schedule night and morning alarms to tell me when to get ready for bed and when to wake up. But, I was never a morning person, and I knew it would take more than that for me to get out of my bed. Good thing I scheduled five other 15min back-to-back alarms. That counts, right? I am a work in progress. The back and forth battle with my alarm goes on for 3 more rounds until I finally decide to give up. As I lazily dress up, I recall my busy schedule for the day. 30min later, I am back from the bakery with my breakfast. I remove my mask, get comfortable on my chair and open my laptop. 8:25 am. Not too bad. Our first session starts at 9:00 am. I take a sip of my burning coffee and check my emails. 3 new emails from participants who can’t seem to onboard properly on the
Interactive Mural tool needed for the first session. I notify the team on slack. Angus, who is in charge of mentor matching, starts drafting an email to the facilitator to fix the issue. I start updating the attendance sheet; the lofi girl playlist was playing in the background.

9:00 AM: Starting with IBM session, Interactive Design thinking pre-workshop

Mural is really useful; I still like real stickers better :)

It was the 3rd day of Cohort 2's launch week, and the IBM team was leading an interactive design thinking pre-workshop.

                "Launch week is an intense 4-day blend of technical and business sessions in which the founders get familiar with the Village Capital investment readiness framework and the IBM HyperProtect Cloud."

The workshop's goal is to understand each startup’s current technical needs, collect insights on how they plan to use Hyper Protect services, and share the regulations they will need to comply with. The facilitator, starts by introducing the HyperProtect design team and guides the participants throughout the session. I was particularly excited about this first session. It brings back memories. As a previous Product Owner who worked on digital products, this design thinking session felt particularly familiar. Throughout the session, I was multitasking: on one hand, I was listening to what was being shared, and on the other hand, I was reaching out to the founders who were still not there in the session. Switching from Zoom to Cisco at the last minute wasn’t a great idea, and some of the participants who missed the update were still waiting in the zoom link. A couple of emails later, everyone was finally on the Cisco link, and a couple of minutes later, the Mural board was filled with stickers. The session ends, and we carry on with the next one.

9:40 AM: Switching to Village Capital curriculum - Intro Pitch, Value proposition and Peer-due-diligence

A cheat shot after Josh (Staple AI) finished pitching. Can you spot me 👋?

Our program manager, Marta, does most of the talking, facilitating the “Intro Pitch”, “value proposition” and “Peer-due-diligence” sessions with much-needed breaks in-between. I spend most of my time checking attendance, following up with founders on the chat, and taking notes on each group’s challenges and progress during the breakouts.

Cohort 2 folks posing :) - Rebecca (Consentic), Andrea (Amlet), and David (Fotoconsent) in attendance

Breakout is easily my favorite part. I can see how the founders benefit from our peer-to-peer framework at Village Capital during these small groups. The exchange is dynamic and I only need to jump in twice to make sure each founder gets an even speaking time and to notify them that we need to go back to the main room. At the end of the peer-due-diligence session, my back was sore. I was already sitting for 3 hours and the upper body workout I did yesterday didn’t help. My muscles were numb. I turn off the camera and start walking around the house, laptop in hand. After a few minutes, I settle into the living room.

12:00 PM: Last session of the day, IBM Enterprise selling 

Can you see how focused we all are? We learned some stuff

We finish the day with a much-requested session from our founders: an “Enterprise selling” session led by Global Sales Leader at IBM. As sales are a big part of their business, the Q&A part was particularly animated. It was too short though. Before wrapping up, we share with the rest of our team the feedback we have gathered today on slack. It makes sense for them to know and adjust accordingly since they will be leading Cohort 3 launch week in a few hours.

04:00 PM: Weekly meeting and feedback sharing

Debrief between Cohort 2 and 3's teams

After a light lunch, I start drafting an email with a few updates for the last day. Later, I jump in our weekly check-in and it’s a chance to elaborate more on the feedback Cohort 2 and 3's teams gathered during the first 3 days of launch week. I review the schedule for tomorrow and validate one final time the email content before sending it to cohort 2. The 3rd day of launch week is finally a wrap but my day is not over yet. Now, it’s workout time.

06:00 PM: Workout time at GYM BOX

What a brilliant idea to put treadmills facing the outdoors - makes running less boring when you can spy on people ;)

It’s legs day. The gym was full and I sprint to get on the last free treadmill. I fix the timer and get ready for the countdown.“Red Room” by Travis Scott is playing on my headphones. The second part of my day starts. But that’s another story.

How to be Involved

Curious about how you can get involved with IBM HyperProtect Accelerator? Well, Applications for 2021 are now open until June 30. Apply here, or check out our website to learn more.

More stories from Alumni founders in the program:



Salma Necib

Startup Ecosystem Consultant @ Village Capital. You can find me on medium and on Linkedin. Let's connect!