As Highway1's program director, Kaethe oversees the various gates and checkpoints every startup has to pass before they get a chance to be a part of the next class.
Prospective teams, she says, “have to be vetted on a variety of factors to make sure we end up with a qualified teams that have exceptional potential in their product, company, and business goals. We also look to compose a group who will work together as a cohesive cohort.”
When she’s not running the pipeline, Kaethe’s busy tailoring the Highway1 curriculum to each startup’s particular needs.
“Our teams have such a limited time here, and their most valuable resource is focus; however, that focus is constantly tested (whether accidentally or on purpose) because the breadth of resources we offer place huge demands on their time. With the flood of resources, teams (especially teams that are on the smaller side) can get distracted or overwhelmed. A question I am asked a lot is ‘Which resources do I really need to prioritize, and which might not be right for me or my company, or for us at this point in time?’
It’s fun for me to put on their shoes and prioritize by thinking through what makes sense for them strategically.”
Kaethe also helps each class with business development strategies. “We work on connecting our startups to the appropriate business development mentors, partners, and resources to help them prepare for future investment conversations. We also assist with overarching structure, connecting them with the right resources to help them do things like profit and loss projections and various analyses: market size, competitive, financial.”
She emphasizes expectation-setting, with the purpose of preparing startups for “everything they don’t know they don’t know” as completely as possible, all the better to let them focus on their priorities during Highway1.