What to expect while entering a Startup Accelerator Program

By | December 1, 2015

Bringing a new business idea to life has never been so easy or affordable. Not only in USA but many incubators and accelerators have come up in almost everywhere in the world to help the startups with their business ideas and funding. Though every accelerator and incubator have different business model and different funding means, the end goal is to shape the business and make the business steady enough to survive on their own. Apart from the accelerator’s contribution, the startup founders should also contribute for the betterment of their business. Depending on what they do, the crash and burn rate is anywhere from 50% to 90% within one to five years. It is in the hands of the young entrepreneurs to make use of the available mentors, advisors, peer group entrepreneurs and business courses.

accelerator program

The young entrepreneurs once they have chosen an accelerator, applied for it and got a position, they should know what to expect inside an accelerator. The entrepreneur would be well prepared for the program when he knows what to expect inside before entering. Entering without any knowledge of what is happening inside would only pave way to failure. Though there are no standard accelerator experience, there are some basic things that applies to all.

*Ready for intense interrogation:
Once into the accelerators, the entrepreneurs should be ready to face the fire through the means of doubting, criticism, hole-poking  and many more. The founder of the startups should be strong enough to face all that. The interrogation may lead one to sweat over the eyebrows. Such interrogations are meant to make one stronger and bold to face such challenging situations in the outside world.

According to Robert Wallace, Executive Vice President of Tallwave, “The hard questioning, doubting, hole-poking and criticism inside an accelertor is to make your enture stronger. So I recommend entrepreneurs put their egos away and listen, and overcome those questions. Remember, it’s in the accelerator’s best interest that you change the world too.”

*Need to work real hard:
These days not many young entrepreneurs are not ready to shed some extra sweat to reach success but rather look for a short cut and easier way for it. Some even feel that once inside an accelerator, they are already half successful. It is very important to know that accelerator is just a start point for the companies and pathway to success. It is up to them to select the pathway and walk it to reach success. The path may require hard work from them and they should be ready to toil to reap success.

Accelerators can only show the directions but it is in the hands of the entrepreneur to put in enough effort and work to achieve it. Accelerators work as a guide and would not do everything for the startups. Like often said, what you get is based on what you put in. So before entering an accelerator program, the entrepreneurs should be all set mentally and physically to work real hard to come out with flying colors.

*Be open to startup changes:
The entrepreneurs may have entered an accelerator program wanting some particular changes in the startup but in the due course of time there are chances the business idea may distort and change things. In simpler term, the startup will not come out the same as it went in and the entrepreneur should be open to make those changes as it is just shaping the business better.  At the end of the program, the business should be capable to make their own product if it is a product based company or should be able to serve if it is service based company. When about to leave, the startup should be able to generate revenue.

Wallace said, “Say you have an idea on a napkin. You should leave with a prototype and a realistic idea of how you are going to make money. Maybe you come in with a working prototype and beta users. You should leave with a deeper validation of the customer needs, a capitalization strategy, and a robust go-to-market plan. A good accelerator specializes in taking a startup from point A to point B, depending on where point A is for that startup.”

*Demo Day and raising funds:
Almost all accelerators end with demo day where the young entrepreneurs meet the pool of investors and pitch in to them to rise funds. This does not mean that securing funds is a guaranteed at the end of the program, it is just a gateway to meet the prospective investors. But most of the young founders assume that they are sure to get funding once entered into an accelerator. They have to understand that is not the case. It all depends on their hard work and how well they have molded their startup to attract the investors.

While each individual accelerator varies, it is important for the startups to understand that these programs find that their time spent there would be intense, challenging and at the end, rewarding, provided they work hard and smart. Chris Tsai, founder and CEO of preordering platform, Celery said, “The beauty of the system is that it is a cross between summer camp and boot camp for startups. All you are doing day and night is living and breathing your startup and your growth.” The startup entrepreneurs when they know the reality of the inside happenings of an accelerator, it would help them get prepared better.