We managed to find a short term lease for the few months we were going to be spending in Toronto for the duration of the accelerator. We jumped into it right away, meeting with mentors, cohort dinners, meeting with investors, etc. Little did we know, we were going to take a completely different direction with the company.
It's Not a "Pivot", It's a "Restart"
I later found out that part of the reason we were selected is because of our team. We were 3 people with complimentary skills. A super technical developer (me), a designer (with coding skills) and a business development/product person (with coding skills).
We had a "musical chairs" pitch session one day at the end of week #2 where 5 tables with 5-8 investors/mentors were sitting. Each team had a total of 20 minutes at each table to give the elevator pitch and do a mini Q/A and get feedback.
We quickly realized we were in trouble because no could really see a successful product and basically told us they wouldn't invest in the company if that was the direction we were talking. We had a choice to make. We could either give up, pack up and go home, or we could come up with a completely new idea and see how far we could get in the remaining 10 weeks.
This is part of the reason we were selected for the cohort. Because we had a strong team, in the event of having to start over, we were the best suited to take on that challenge.
So we stopped at the corner store, got some sharpies and a big flip board, some beer and pizza and went back to the house. We started by writing down every idea or problem we could think of. When we were coming up with ideas, we all had to wear "white hats". The idea is you can't criticize any idea during this phase, since that comes later.
Once we had 30 ideas on the board and couldn't think of any others, we put on our "black hats". We tore apart every idea one by one. Was the market big enough? How many competitors exist/can we compete? Is it technically possible? Is it financially possible?
After our first pass, we reduced it down to 15, and then down to 6 after a second pass. The third one down the list eventually became the idea we decided to go with.
Now that we had our new idea, we presented it again to the mentors and the investors running the accelerator. They liked this idea much more because it seemed to have more potential. Our quest to try and build this product in the remaining 10 weeks thus began. It was going to be an uphill challenge, but you have to be a little crazy in the first place when building a startup.