8 Accelerator Application Tips

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Eric 3In my previous post I discussed the macro-level application tips on how teams are selected.  You can read more about that here.

With this post, I’ll be more tactical and talk about how to hack the accelerator application to your advantage.  Demonstrating intelligence by moving beyond the flat form of the application to provide a multi-dimensional view of your team and idea is hard to do.  Nonetheless there are ways to get your application to the top of the pile. Here are my top 8 tips to answer application questions:

1) Break from the Questions: Realize that the questions are there as a guide, but not a rule.  Sure you need to answer the question, but you also need to get attention and interest from the reviewer.  Inserting crafty tangents that demonstrate how the team is fierce, flexible, and functioning are key.  Note that reviewers do not normally read the questions and instead skip right to the answers one by one.  The narrative assembles as you present. Rigidly sticking to the questions reduces the richness you can supply.  So be creative in how you use the questions. They should be a springboard to showcase your team.

2) The Why is Most Important: Your company description is your chance to hook the reviewer.  People don’t by into what you do — they buy into why you do it. People like to invest with others who share the same beliefs.  Do not be shallow in your articulations. Show depth and that you understand the magnitude of the problem and the opportunity.

3) Grandma Test: We have many applicants that say a lot without saying anything at all.  This is a failure of communication.  The buzz words and jargon are going to hurt your application.  You will impress no one.  We believe that if you cannot articulate something simply then you don’t fully understand it.  Test out your answers on your Grandma — if she understands then you are probably in good shape.

4) Demo or Die: It is true that if you supply a demo then it had better be easy to access and it better work.  Don’t expect me to login in with my Facebook, Twitter, or Google account to access your software.  I won’t do it and I doubt any other reviewer would to protect their identity.  Put your demo on a dev server and give us credentials to login that work.  If the SSL certificate is out-of-date and the website flagged then that also will result in abandonment of demonstration. In a lot of regards having no demo is better than having a demo that doesn’t work.

5) Benefit of the doubt: If applications are sitting on the bubble, the go ahead run lies with the team and not the idea.  From my last blog post you understand why.

6) Competition Red Flags: If I know your competition better than you do, you have a problem.  If your competition doesn’t match up to your problem or your solution, something is wrong.

7) Details: If the application is generic vanilla ice cream with no details or differentiation and the applicant is hiding the “secret sauce,” then the application will go no where.  No one is going to steal your idea.  If you can’t articulate why the team and the idea are better than others then you essentially have self-selected out of the program.

8) Design: The overall design of your website, materials, channels, and demos matters. Landing pages that are only LaunchRock pages with no customizations demonstrate a lack of understanding of go-to-market strategy. Design and thinking matter beyond the words of the application.

These are just some of the tips for getting your application in order.  If you have other questions please feel free to reach out to us.

Happy Applying!


Eric Mathews is CEO and co-president of Start Co. He can be reached at info@neverstop.co