If you are an entrepreneur, then you’re undoubtedly familiar with the terms: starting up, incubation, and acceleration. Many believe they have a game changing concept; however, they have no clue how to move from the idea stage to the execution stage. For these founders, moving directly into an early stage accelerator is a wise move. During their acceleration program they learn the importance of customer discovery, when to pivot, and the three most important words for founding teams: “Iteration trumps perfection.”
But, what about the entrepreneur that’s already launched? Although there is a cohort atmosphere in any multi-company accelerator, many times the companies are at various stages. The sole purpose of the program is to accelerate your company from your current stage to the next level. No matter how well you are doing, there is always room for improvement. Often some of the best ideas for your company don’t come from your team, but instead come from a member of another team. This collaboration with like-minded individuals is one the many advantages of the cohort model. There is also an element of competition in any accelerator that drives each team to perform quickly and creatively in hopes that they will stand out among to group.
Your local accelerator will bring you into a pre-built and well connected network. You’ll have opportunities to find mentorship from talented individuals you may not have otherwise met. You will quickly make connections with other startup founders, accelerator alumni, business executives, accountants, attorneys, and investors. With each new connection comes a wealth of knowledge and willingness to share. Plugging directly into this network allows your own network to grow more rapidly as new introductions are made that suit your individual needs and are specific to your industry. You may even meet that perfect co-founder or team member.
Accelerators get you ready for investment. For many entrepreneurs, investment is new territory with its own set of rules and language. Even if you plan to bootstrap your business, it always makes sense to be prepared for the unknown. If you’re lucky enough to have your startup grow so rapidly that you need to take investment, you’ll have a complete toolkit, from the 30 second elevator pitch to the 10 or 20 minute investor pitch. You’ll have the confidence to pitch to any audience, the knowledge that your numbers are correct, and peace of mind that you’ve already answered the questions that investors are likely to ask.
If you’re are a startup, you can always do more and do it faster. Accelerators facilitate this by getting you and your team ready for that next level. Whether you have just an idea for a new product or service, you are an early stage startup, or your business is starting to see some success, an accelerator can be invaluable. So startup, accelerate, and never stop!