The startup with attributes that best fit a particular accelerator’s established criteria and objectives, and best fits the needs of the startup will be the one with the highest probability of being a match and one in which the accelerators will be more likely to accept the startup into the cohort.
Deciding which accelerator to attend can be complicated for the entrepreneur and their teams. Startups have a large number of issues to consider as they contemplate their options. Ultimately the choice comes down to which accelerator is the “best overall fit” for the startup, the entrepreneur and for the accelerator itself. As a result, the entrepreneur may desire to consider a targeted approach based on a match between the attributes and goals of the startup and its’ team, and the criteria of the accelerator.
They can determine which of their attributes and startup criteria match that of the accelerator. The startup with attributes that best fit a particular accelerator’s established criteria and objectives, and best fits the needs of the startup will be the one with the highest probability of being a match and one in which the accelerators will be more likely to accept the startup into the cohort. Let’s take a closer look at these attributes and factors:
The entrepreneur should consider as they commence with their search and selection efforts include the geographic location of the accelerator, the accelerator’s ranking, the accelerator’s focus, the potential for funding by the accelerator, the accelerator’s “out of pocket cost” and / or requirements related to equity, attendance and relocation, the season offered and duration.
Operational and Qualitative Factors
The startup and its members may desire to consider include the number of companies that have graduated from the accelerator, the average funding graduates receive, the percentage of companies obtaining financing following the cohort’s completion, the total funding raised by graduates, years in operation and the number of mentors available.
Other Accelerator Objectives
The entrepreneur may also want to consider include the stage of the development of the typical startup accepted, the breadth, experience and makeup of startup teams accepted, the breadth and depth of its advisory board, the startup’s value creation potential and its fit with other cohort participants and their overall portfolios.
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Information related to the general factors referenced above are typically readily available through a review of the accelerator’s website and the focus of our article.
Geographic Location of the Accelerator
The location of the accelerator carries significance for many reasons, some obvious ones related to the entrepreneurs themselves and the cost of travel and feasibility of attendance. However, as important is the startup’s ability to leverage the accelerator experience. Examples include the startup’s ability to leverage the network their attendance established into the future, the name cachet of the accelerator in different regions and countries, and the geographic investment objectives of the angel and VC groups which support the accelerator.
Many of the more prominent accelerators are highly compelling and highly selective. Y Combinator receives thousands of applicants for each cohort. Programs such as Launch Tennessee’s THE TENN “Master Accelerator”, only accepts candidates which have graduated from one of Tennessee’s regional accelerators. Attendance at a less prominent accelerator can deliver many of the same results to the founders and their company and prepare them for future opportunities.
The sector(s) of the accelerator’s focus dictates the sectors of interest of the accelerator and their supporters. Yours can be the most promising medical device opportunity on the planet. However, if the accelerator is only interested in 3D companies, your potential is irrelevant.
Potential for Funding
Many programs provide funding in addition to training, mentoring, networking and interactive experiences for their cohorts. Some do not. Founders should consider listing the objectives they desire to accomplish as a foundation for use in the accelerator selection process.
Out of Pocket Costs and Equity Requirements
Accelerator programs are not all structured alike. Some require payment by the startup for participation others may ask for equity for the experience.
Our mobile, virtual world has significantly increased opportunities for development without participation at a specific location. Many accelerators are taking advantage of technologies and leveraging them into their cohort experience requiring only part time attendance. Others require full-time attendance and participation on-site. Selecting a program offering the combined experience may not offer the breadth of opportunities, such as networking at weekly dinner presentations that a live experience offers. None the less, it may still be an awesome growth opportunity for the team.
Accelerators which are a part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem supported by organizations which are attempting to grow their overall startup community may require your startup relocate to that community upon graduation. While that may not be an issue on the personal side, the bigger picture is whether the location is a match which would enable the growth of the startup in the long term.
Season and Duration
Accelerator schedules are not like that of academia. They are not formally defined. Many accelerators host cohorts in the spring or fall, some in both. Some host cohorts in the summer only; others in all three seasons. A few host programs in the winter. Typically the duration of these accelerators is 12 – 16 weeks. However, yearlong programs with intermittent events over time are also being offered. The varied timing of the offerings results in an option-rich environment for the entrepreneur, should the other factors match.
By focusing their efforts only on accelerators with criteria and offerings that match their opportunity and needs, the entrepreneurs avoid the frivolous efforts of the shotgun approach, improving the efficiency of their effort.
Interested in accelerators featured in the Startup Accelerator Spotlight?
Healthbox Studios, Seamless Accelerator, Prosper Women Entrepreneurs