by: Will Taylor, Partner, York Project
Conquer Accelerator | Cohort I | Summer 2016
In May 2016, I came on board at York Project. Within weeks I found myself a member of the inaugural cohort of MSU’s Conquer Accelerator program. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. I found myself surrounded by hard-working entrepreneurs and knowledgeable, passionate mentors—the next ten weeks would be an unparalleled experience.
In addition to ten weeks of hands-on mentorship, Conquer Accelerator invests $20k into each of its selected companies. For York Project, that kind of investment empowered both my business partner, Josh York (creator of York Project), and I to build and execute a strategic vision for our company. As excited as we were to start spending, our Conquer mentors first helped us to sharpen our focus. Day-to-day meetings and impromptu interactions with both Tom Stewart and Jesse Flores enabled us to put our time, effort, and money into what truly mattered: growing our company.
As the summer went on, the relationships forged between cohort mates solidified, leading to intense collaboration. Together, we built a community around one another, and our greatest investment was in each other’s success. We challenged one another to meet—then exceed—our goals. That very environment promoted even more growth. I cherish the bonds formed with each member of our cohort and still collaborate and reach out for good counsel, today.
My experience as a member of the Conquer Accelerator taught me about myself, too. As an entrepreneur, I find myself wearing many hats. The hours are long, the odds on success are tough, and adversity is around every corner. At a moment’s notice, one’s duties can change from being CEO to being HR Director; one moment you will be experiencing your highest of highs, only to be followed by your lowest of lows. Being surrounded by a community that cares about and supports you, while also pushing you, is priceless.
Conquer taught me to be okay with stepping out of my comfort zone. Most importantly, though, it taught me how hard I could push myself—and to believe in what I could accomplish.