Startups need lots of help before they can lift off the ground and steady themselves enough to fly on their own. For many founders, entry into an accelerator can make the most sense because it offers access to mentorship, investors and other support.
What’s the best way to extract optimum value?
Get clear on what you hope to get out of the experience. This is the north star when you move forward interviewing and applying for accelerators. As you’re researching and vetting accelerators, keep these questions in mind to help you stay on track and avoid getting pulled in too many different directions.
1. What type of communication style(s) can I expect?
This is a two-way street. It’s crucial accelerators are openly communicative with their startups, but founders should return the favor so that mentors and the like can be on the lookout for opportunities, introductions or support.
2. Who is included in the stable of investors?
Investors are constantly on the lookout for the next unicorn idea. Accelerators can provide an opportunity to network with investors, but it’s important to know if they are in your wheelhouse. For example, if you’re pitching a hardware product, an accelerator full of investors with track records for investing in SaaS likely won’t do much for you.
3. How is risk managed?
Founders are accustomed to dealing with lots of risk, but they aren’t the only ones challenged by it. Investing is inherently risky, so it’s fair to ask accelerators how they mitigate it for themselves. Remember, you’re depending on them to accurately assess the risks in your business and help minimize them. So, if an accelerator lacks self awareness in this department, chances are higher they might drop the ball when it comes to your startup.
4. What type of ancillary support is offered?
It’s no secret that startup founders are looking for capital, but their needs extend beyond just money. The marketing, finance, product development etc also play a role in the success of a new venture. When selecting accelerators, take note of the tangibles (like solid networking connections) and intangibles (like motivation or vibe) that could make or break a startup’s launch.
Startups and founders tend to be unique, so don’t be afraid to dig into the details and find out exactly how an accelerator can add value and serve as a launching pad into the future. Or hey, if the taste suits you, consider a slice of PAI