InsideDNA was founded in 2013 by Andrey Khmelevskiy and Anna Kostikova as a cloud-based platform for genomics analysis. InsideDNA brought optimized storage and reproducible research to scientists through cloud computing.
In summer 2016, one of the InsideDNA founders Andrey came to San Francisco for a conference. His friend told him about this new mysterious place in the city: a entrepreneurship embassy in a former church, and Andrey decided to check it out.
Andrey had his share of skepticism about startup programs in general, and an unusual setting of HACK Temple took him by surprise. However, after Andrey met HACKT team members and learned about the program, he realized it was worth trying, so on September 8, 2016, InsideDNA joined HACKT Mission as one of its first members.
TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield
Perhaps the biggest HACKT Mission outcome for InsideDNA has been winning 2nd place in TechCrunch Disrupt London.
During the program, InsideDNA founders received a lot of mentorship and strategy advice from various experts. One of their mentors, who is also CEO of HACKT Pavel Cherkashin, challenged the team to figure out the exact pain of their customers.
“It’s not enough to just describe the features and say how wonderful your product is,” InsideDNA founder shared. “You need to ask loyal customers to describe their pain point in their own words.”
So the founders did research, talked to Pavel to get ideas, then talked to their customers and got more ideas, and then went and created a new solution — AI for comprehensive genomics analysis. It took them just two months to build it, and they brought that new solution to TechCrunch Disrupt London, and won second place in Startup Battlefield.
Editor’s note: This is the reason we focus HACKT Mission program on connecting members with experts and doing business development (which includes a lot of customer development). Sometimes, a mentor will take 5 minutes to solve a problem that would have taken you months. That’s the power of borrowing expertise that is widely available in Silicon Valley. Our job is to bring it to more international founders like Andrey and Anna (and you).
Other Key Outcomes
“We didn’t know a lot of people here, and didn’t really know what Silicon Valley was,” Andrey said. “HACKT Mission was a very effective and quick ice breaker for us.”
During HACKT Mission InsideDNA significantly grew their contact base in the U.S. “Thanks to HACKT team we got lots of useful contacts for marketing, design, law, and other experts that we can ask for advice or use for projects,” Andrey added.
The founders have found a U.S. marketing agency for InsideDNA, and connected with dozens of experts and advisors. Each of them had some valuable feedback, “so even if we didn’t get them as an advisor, we still learned a lot from them.” Now they have many leads for mentors to work with moving forward.
Throughout the duration of their Mission, Andrey was only able to physically come to San Francisco for 10 days in the very beginning.
“If I could stay for two months, it would be amazing. A visit here definitely changes your businesses, especially if you are early stage.”
The founders also learned how to approach people. “You need to cold contact people without excessive pleasantries,” Andrey said. Using this approach he met an expert who gave so much advice that founders attribute some of their TechCrunch success to him.
“After that I realized that you can get lots of advice and value just by cold contacting people.”
(If you want to learn the technique Andrey is describing in detail, check out our Startup Networking Playbook.)
Andrey and Anna enjoyed working with a program that focuses on international founders, as that helped build rapport very fast. Because HACKT team is also international, we intimately understand the needs and challenges of other international entrepreneurs, and can focus specifically on that.
Advice To Future Mission Members
“Teams must be prepared to be very active,” InsideDNA founders say. “We were given more information and resources than we could process.”
You should also be prepared to be pushed to achieve a lot in a short period of time.
“Connect with as many different experts as possible, and listen to their feedback. Each of them brings a new idea and shows a new direction, and it’s very useful to consolidate that information when making a decision about your company’s next move.”
What’s Your Next Move?
Wondering if HACKT Mission is right for you right now? Schedule a free call with us, and we’ll take time to learn about your company and your current challenges, and help you decide if now is the best time.