What is a Startup Accelerator?
What if there was a way to get your startup from point A to B faster? Startup accelerators are a great option for growing your business quickly. Learn how startup accelerator programs can help your startup succeed.
Investors are looking for the next big thing. With more and more startups successfully growing in their respective markets, the competition stiffens. While for investors, the search is also on for the next household brand to uplift.
If you’ve been in the industry long enough, you may have heard of startup accelerators. They are one of the alternative solutions in raising capital for your startup. Big names such as Airbnb and Dropbox are graduates of these types of programs. They not only aid businesses financially, but they also mentor and help create a following.
Despite the growing number of startup accelerator programs all over the world, there’s more to learn about them. Startup accelerators are often mistakenly lumped with other funding sources such as incubators, angel investors, and venture capitalists. However, it has a completely different dynamic.
If you want to learn more about startup accelerators and how it helps your business, then read on!
What is a Startup Accelerator?
A startup accelerator, also called seed accelerator, is a program that aims to support early-stage companies. It provides financial aid and leadership advice, as well as network connections.
You can think of startup accelerators as a form of boot camp for newbie entrepreneurs. The goal of their training is to gain enough traction to boost and improve their companies.
Early-stage companies join startup accelerators for the following reasons:
Startup accelerator programs are often organized by large organizations and influential people. This gives small business owners a chance to interact and rub shoulders with high profile entrepreneurs. And through the program, expand their connections in the industry.
One of the greatest perks of an accelerator program is getting “insider” advice from veteran entrepreneurs. Aspiring business owners get access to valuable strategic lessons, as well as practical tips on how to apply them to their operations.
Getting selected by a prestigious startup accelerator such as Y Combinator gives a company the industry “stamp of approval”. This means instant endorsements from the higher-ups which dramatically boosts a startup’s image.
How does a Startup Accelerator work?
So, now that we know what a business accelerator is, it’s time to learn how it works.
A startup school can run from three to six months and within its duration, the participating startups will be evaluated. By the end of the program, investors will choose which startup will get funded.
But with a promising offer also comes a lot of serious competition. The best of the best title is not an easy one to earn. Only a few startups are selected from every given cohort to participate in an accelerator program. Although it’s not a requirement to be an established startup, these programs expect at least a minimum viable product (MVP).
Investors tend to select the participant based on the following factors:
The founding team is a key factor for a startup’s success. Investors look at a team whether they’ll be able to handle the challenges of building a business.
In a highly volatile industry, a lot of things can change quickly; from the product to the market. This is why being resilient and adaptable is important. Startup accelerators will assess the team’s potential to make it in the long run.
Investors are always drawn to original and creative ideas. However, a good idea can only take one so far if it isn’t developed properly. Accelerators will study an idea closely to find potential obstacles it might encounter. They look for ideas that are simple, effective, and monetizable.
Traction refers to progress over time. A startup’s traction has to be proportional to the amount of time it’s launched its product. Also, accelerators look for growth-oriented companies that fit a venture capital investment.
Hence, they want a business that has the potential to become a multi-billion dollar publicly-traded company in a couple of years.
How can you apply for an accelerator program?
If you find that a startup accelerator is ideal for your company then it’s time to look at the available options. Although every accelerator program operates differently, they follow a similar process for screening applicants.
So, without further ado, here are the steps to applying for an accelerator:
1. Choose a startup accelerator
There are a lot of great accelerator programs. You can narrow down your choices based on location, industry, funding offers, and the network that will participate in it.
The important thing to consider is whether or not your business can truly benefit from the program. You need to make sure that your goals parallels with their vision.
Here’s a checklist for your selection:
Social proof – How many successful startups have graduated from that accelerator program? How much funding did they receive from it?
Network and Industry – What kind of network does the accelerator offer? Are the experts relevant to your business?
Location – Are they nearby? Will you need to be relocated to physically attend the program?
2. Apply to the program
It’s incredibly difficult to get into an accelerator program. And even when you do get in, you’ll still need to jump through hoops to be selected for funding. Famous accelerators such a Y Combinator and Techstars only accept around 3% of their thousand applicants.
So, if you want to get ahead of the game, then take the application process seriously. Prepare an extensive written application, a complete set of business slides, pitch decks, and a great bargaining speech.
3. Compete for funding
Getting into the program is only the first hurdle. If your startup gets picked, you have to prove you’re worth the opportunity. Step up your game and impress all the potential investors with your business idea.
Scale with Full Scale
Not feeling too confident to apply for an accelerator program? Perhaps your startup doesn’t seem ready for it?
Accelerator programs are not the end-all-be-all of getting funded. In fact, there are still plenty of options you can look into besides accelerators. However, if you’re determined to join accelerator programs then you can also take steps to prepare your startup.
One of the essentials in applying is an impressive MVP. Investors want to see a concrete display of your idea. Hence, you need to ensure all the primary functions of your product look good and are working well. If you feel like your MVP still needs improvement then don’t hesitate to ask for help from other experts.
Full Scale is a software development company that can help you launch and develop your MVP. We specialize in bringing out the full potential of early-stage startups. We can help you develop, improve, and maintain your product.
On top of that, we can provide you the experts you’ll need for your project. We have seasoned developers, project managers, and QA specialists ready for deployment. Ready to scale your business? Get your FREE Consultation today!