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Why entrepreneurs love our program.

And you will too.

Shared by Nadya Lev, CEO of Aconite, part of Matter Six.

Going through Matter was one of the most intense, rewarding experiences of my life.

With Matter’s guidance, my co-founder and I were able to take a deeper dive than ever before, both into our own personal aspirations, and into the unmet needs of communities we care about, to uncover a product that we both feel passionately about. Thanks to Matter, I wake up excited every morning to apply the lessons that we’ve learned in this incredibly rewarding program.

The greatest gift Matter has given us is a rigorous adherence to design thinking. We were familiar with its principles before, but Matter’s specific way of teaching this practice really helped us to approach design thinking in a disciplined, effective way. Matter helped us to strip our biases out of the process to the best of our abilities, helping us to design better user research tests and ask better questions as we iterated on our product.

One of the most emboldening things about Matter is their belief in founders over products. With Matter’s generous encouragement, our idea mutated significantly over the course of the program. What we had at the end was a much more original and exciting idea than what we had at the beginning. Matter’s confidence in us as founders enabled us to move quickly, and have the freedom to explore questions that enabled us to hit on more original solutions.

Matter taught us to embrace failures as learning opportunities. Rather than treating every mistake as a setback, we began to view mistakes as vital parts of the process. This attitude enabled us to move faster and recover from setbacks quicker.

Matter taught us that having a great product is not about being struck with a great vision (which does happen, but is ephemeral and can’t be relied-upon), but about adhering to a process. Sometimes, even if you don’t know what’s on the other side, if you stick to an effective process and put one foot in front of the other, wonderful things can happen. A lot of wonderful things have happened to us thanks to Matter.

Finally, Matter gave us the most incredible gift: community. Every day, I am awe-struck by the passion, dedication and resilience of my fellow founders. Being surrounded by so many inspirational people helped us on our journey, and I’ve made lifelong friendships.

Meet Madrid: Brick City Native, Jamerican, and Tar Heel (in That Order). It All Matters.

From Newark to Chapel Hill, a journey to outgrow ideas.

PC: Roxann Stafford

Brick City Native

I first met Corey Ford on May 20, 2016 as I walked into Matter’s San Francisco office. That day he said something I will never forget: kill my puppies. As gruesome as that sounds, it’s a pretty good thing to do. As Corey explained, the most successful entrepreneurs “killed their puppies,” meaning they killed their original ideas or plans that were precious to them in order to move toward better ones. It’s a phrase that embodies a belief of mine to not marry ideas, but instead marry growth. Why? Because some ideas need to be outgrown.

Outgrowing ideas is something that resonates with me greatly. There were a lot of ideas I had to outgrow to make it out of New Jersey. I was born and raised in the city of Newark, NJ (a.k.a. Brick City) for most of my childhood. Newark is a city where nearly one third of our population is under the poverty line, where there has been a murder almost every month since 1966, and it was ranked the country’s unfriendliest city by Condé Nast. I grew up surrounded by ideas that supported gangs, wage slavery, and anti-intellectualism. Newark isn’t all bad though. There’s a lot of good people who helped shepherd and push my friends and me in the right direction in life. Some listened and some didn’t. Nonetheless, as Tupac would say, roses grow from the concrete, too.

Jamerican

One of the reasons I was attracted to interning at Matter was the fact that it was part venture capital firm and part accelerator. They not only found and funded entrepreneurs, but they helped create them as well. Entrepreneurial spaces like Matter are what I’m drawn to because of something I was told all the time when I was a kid. When my father picked me up on the weekends, and we’d drive around, he stressed for me to work for myself. He always told me about how the hard manual labor he does and others do sucks. He would play audio tapes in the car of motivational speakers: Anthony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki, Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn and Les Brown. Eric Thomas is my favorite speaker of all time though, I consider him a mentor who doesn’t even know he’s my mentor from afar.

Now, my mother has always been supportive, but something was always different about how she raised me and how my father raised me. My father is from Spanish Town, St. Catherine, Jamaica and my mother was born here in America. As I got older, I started to understand that people from foreign countries, like Jamaica, and who know a harder life, are endowed with an ambition that many born in America just don’t have. On my father’s side, my grandmother came to America back in the ’60s. At one point, she had three jobs, and my Grandfather is in his 70s right now and is still working. There’s a sort of grit, a sort of grind, a sort of ambition, that my father and his parents embody, and I can feel it flow through my veins every day. I didn’t really start feeling it until sophomore year of high school. It’s this ambition that got me into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) to become a Tar Heel.

Tar Heel

After making it into UNC, and going through a rough first year transition, I was struck with a feeling of empowerment. I believed more than I ever had in my life that I could be an entrepreneur. The words my father spoke and played to me as a kid were no longer ideas, they had grown into my beliefs. I owe that to the great entrepreneurial spaces UNC has helped cultivate, especially the E-Minor, where I met Entrepreneurs-in-Residence who have become some of the most influential people in my life. People like Bernard Bell, Jed Simmons, Buck Goldstein and Charles Merritt. Currently I’m in the E-Minor’s Silicon Valley study away program. Before this program began, I was asked to list five companies I would like to intern at from most to least preferred. I put, in order, Matter, Richard Kaplan Donahoe Foundation, Adobe, Sony, and Google. Many would think I’m crazy to put Google at the bottom of my list, but there’s a method to my madness. I figured that the smaller a company, the more influence an intern can have — and the more exposure and experience an intern can gain, as a result. At a big place like Google, Sony or Adobe, it would still be a great learning experience. On the other hand, there are probably hundreds of other people that they would give an important task to before they would give it to me. And only one place taught me to kill my puppies.

Matter

Interning at Matter for the past month has been a great experience. I’ve been blessed to work with amazing co-workers with an array of skills, invaluable life experience and knowledge they readily share with me. I’ve already had an impact on Matter’s branding with my work. Some of the design work I’ve created can be seen on our social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and even in our physical space. I look forward to my continuing work and networking with more people connected to the Matter community.