Startup accelerator is an intense but rewarding educational program for startups. You’ll get from A to B with the support and guidance of an institution that has been specifically created to help startups in your position. Accelerators are great if your startup has had some initial traction and a team in place, and will be hugely beneficial for a number of reasons. Now, if you’re reading this as a founder of a very new startup, (i.e. the ideas stage), an incubator may be better suited – more on that in a future blog!
Accelerators vary. However, what links all accelerators together is the training, mentorship, network and – occasionally – funding, that will give you and your business the boost it needs, all within a supportive environment. They can last anywhere between 2 weeks to 6 months, they may be suited towards certain sectors or offer a number of different perks – there’s such a variety that you do need to do your research. Whilst I’m sure, considering you’re reading this blog, that you’re doing some research, here at Entrepreneurs Collective, we thought we’d help put your mind more at ease with 10 Reasons Why Your Startup Should Join an Accelerator in 2021:
“Results that you expect to have achieved in a few years, may instead be achieved in just a few months”
It’s in the name – acceleration
As the name suggests, and I don’t mean this to be patronising, accelerators help startups to accelerate their growth. These programmes will take your initial traction and direct it, with the help of a strong network, advice, guidance and potentially funding for development. They’re there to help your startup quickly turn into an actual business (I know, crazy!) Results that you expect to have achieved in a few years, may instead be achieved in just a few months.
You’ll be surrounded by support
You won’t be alone in this accelerator programme, there will be so much support and guidance offered. They want you to succeed, it’s beneficial for them – especially if they have a vested interest in your startup (shares). For this reason, and because the type of people who set up accelerators love to see businesses succeed, the accelerator programme you go with will offer a range of support, both professional and personal, to get you and your business to the next level.
“Nobody wants their startup to be bottom of the class, right?”
You can validate your product
Having your business model and ideas reviewed by an experienced group of founders. And executives will be a huge help for you and your startup. It will help you assess the validity of your product. And ensure you iron out anything that could hinder your businesses development.
You can benchmark your startup against others around you
One of the most helpful parts of participating in an accelerator programme is the ability t compare yourself to other startups at a similar stage to you. Whether they’re working in the same space or industry doesn’t really matter – they’ll be facing similar issues and may have answers to problems that you’re currently facing. In the accelerator bubble, it’s easier to see where you need to improve and where you are outperforming others in your cohort. There’s probably going to be some healthy competition too. Nobody wants their startup to be bottom of the class, right? That little bit of pressure (and I must stress there is a lot of support, it’s not a total competition) can spur you on and help accelerate your business!
“You’ll come out the other side with a renewed sense of business acumen, confidence in your product and the ability to lead your team through the next challenge.”
Gain more credibility
Joining a well established and well-known accelerator can do a whole lot of good for the credibility of your startup in the long run. To be able to say your startup has gone through a fairly rigorous selection programme. And chosen to join XYZ’s Accelerator is an indicator for investors. And potential customers that you are (or on your way to becoming at least) a credible business. This does obviously depend on the accelerator, as not all of them will hold the same value.
You’ll grow, professionally & personally
Accelerator programmes are an immersive learning experience for you. You’ll learn several important skills that are necessary for running a business. You, along with your company are going to see tremendous growth. There’s going to be years worth of learning that you’ll have to do in a couple of months! It sounds intense – it is – but it’s so worth it. You’ll come out the other side with a renewed sense of business acumen, with confidence in your product. And the ability to lead your team through the next challenge.
“…your product’s impressive development coupled with your renewed credibility and validation will mean investors will be hounding you and not the other way round!”
You (and your founding team) will learn how to work together better
Accelerators help you and your founding team build proper strategies for your operations. They are a useful tool for understanding where you work well and where you don’t do as well. If the founding team is lacking certain skills or knowledge, it could be digital marketing or branding, for example, you’ll soon find out in an accelerator programme. This is a good thing – learning where your gaps are early is better than finding out too late. Accelerator programmes will help advise on who you need to bring in to plug the gaps, in turn, allowing the team to function and work together better
You’ll have access to investors
Accelerator programmes may allow you to gain wide access to a network of angels, VCs and family offices. This will be important, as, by the end of the accelerator, you may need to raise funds to help with however much runway you need. Fingers crossed, by the end of the accelerator programme, your product’s impressive development coupled with your renewed credibility and validation will mean investors will be hounding you and not the other way round!
“…it proves that your company is ready for investment.”
You’ll build your founders network
Whilst you’ll have healthy competition with your cohort members, they will become an important part of your network. You’ll create strong relationships that will go on much longer than the programme. Having a strong founders network around you is essential. In the long run, it will become your source of advice and guidance as you traverse through difficult times. And its important to becoming a safe haven for you to offer tips and tricks of how you overcame challenges.
One aspect that we can’t ignore, is that some accelerators actually invest money in their startup cohort. This is beneficial in two ways. Primarily, it gives you a few more months of runway, which is always good news. Secondly, on a purely psychological basis, it proves that your company is ready for investment. For some people, it may be the first time anyone (who you don’t know personally) has actually put in money to back your idea. This can really boost the team’s morale, and for you personally as a founder.
It’s important to state that, whilst there are a plethora of reasons why an accelerator will be beneficial to you, getting onto one is no clear indicator of success. According to Forbes, the top three global accelerators report about 10% of their startup portfolio companies as successful exits. And that’s the top three global accelerators. Accelerators can be the perfect platform and foundation for building a successful business. But they are not indicative of a future exit. That’s up to you and your continued drive, determination and growth, both as a founder and as a company.
Much like an Accelerator, here at EC, we’re all about the growth of your startup. The network of founders and investors we’re lucky to have, coupled with the tools, credits and guidance we offer to Members, allows us to add real value to your startup. We want you to succeed, so get in touch today and join the largest collective of founders helping founders.