In the past, the groundbreaking concept of providing new businesses with funding, connections, and opportunities used to be something only founders dreamt about. Today, that dream has become a reality. Although accelerator programs are awesome, not all guarantee success to the startup. With many requiring specialized setups for certain businesses, accelerators sometimes do what their name suggests — accelerate — but other times, they may hinder or even halt business growth completely. The entrepreneur dreams of a co-working space that encourages productivity and embodies their working models, which can be hard to find.
Here are some pointers that can help you in your quest for the perfect accelerator, otherwise known as the “Holy Grail” of startups:
1. Accelerators commit from the start — you should too
Choosing an accelerator determines the long-term success of your company; not only will the accelerator hold a stake in your business, but it will also set a working style for your startup, whether you want it to or not. A good example of this is the article written by Entrepreneur on the accelerator work ethic that has revolutionized the Indian business world. Organizing a short-term plan for an accelerator partnership cannot happen, given that it holds a big asset in your startup on many fronts and will share a stake of your company as long as it exists. Keep in mind that while the commitment is serious, it’s not permanent, and you should utilize the time and resources at the accelerator to its full extent.
2. Identify local and global accelerators
Choosing a startup based on location convenience can be an aiding factor, but shouldn’t be the determining one. Research the perks of nationwide or even international offices that can tailor to your business. An accelerator that can offer you offices in Europe, Asia, and South America for the purpose of expansion or client outreach is worth a look.
We know it’s nothing short of disruptive to leave the local familiarity that you want your startup to grow in, but “disruptive” should be an anticipated attribute of the startup environment. Your current location may be where you want your business to be once it’s at its full potential, but maybe the growth needs to happen somewhere else.
Ask yourself if your local accelerator truly holds the tools that can boost your business into profit. After all, the point of a startup is that it will temporarily take over all other aspects of your life, so that your project can truly have your full attention.
3. Compare private and corporate accelerators
There are pros and cons to both private and corporate accelerators. For a business that needs to establish the basics in funding and connections, a private accelerator would be the right choice. With setups that usually range a 5-10% equity stake, this will be the accelerator that breathes fire into your business. In the case of Techstars, an equity stake of 6% is taken for a $20k investment that includes a $100,000 convertible note.
The corporate accelerator is for those businesses with a kindled flame that want to light a larger fire. Dealing mostly with later-stage startups, this is where you want to be after your initial investments are made and your foundational creative processes are completed.
Corporate accelerators will help you find the chinks in your startup’s armor with custom-fitted mentorship, connections to potential clients within the corporate network, and equity-free union for the sake of innovative presence in very rare cases. One example of a corporate accelerator is the AT&T Aspire Accelerator.
4) It’s about the idea, not the money
If you find yourself adjusting the purpose of your company to fit a business pitch, take a step back. Remember that you are looking for an accelerator that will further the ideology that pushed you to create your business in the first place.
The reward of changing your business model only counts if it still comprehends the core values that you created for it. In the long run, you will be thankful you chose an accelerator that endorses your startup rather than one that might not bring your startup to its full potential in lieu of a safer business model.
An accelerator endorses business models of both traditional and innovative nature. The ultimate goal for both your company and the program is growth, so success is a mutual benefit. The essential thing is to choose the right one, which can understand your business in all matters fiscal, financial, and corporate. Do not just pick the first accelerator that crosses your path. Do the research and establish various options and backup plans, since no startup can afford to be caught off-guard.