Joining an accelerator is a crucial part of an entrepreneur's journey and has been a pivotal step in the growth of industry leaders like Airbnb, Twitch, and Coinbase. With thousands of accelerators worldwide, entrepreneurs today have their pick. How do you ensure you choose an accelerator that’s the right fit for your team, stage, and industry? Here are five things to consider when choosing a tech accelerator.
To kick off your search, be honest about the current state of your company, your team's coachability, and your capacity to commit to a program and its curriculum. From there, you can search for a program or accelerator that best matches your needs.
As you search, it’s important to distinguish an incubator from an accelerator. An incubator assists very early stage companies build their business from the ground up, while an accelerator expedites growth of existing companies at varying stages. An accelerator assists in early venture obstacles such as product-market fit and connections to investors ready to take a chance on your startup. On the other hand, an accelerator with the resources to help a later stage company may provide business advisory specific to scaling the global market and meeting customer or revenue milestones. Do the research to ensure an accelerator has the right resources for your growth stage and plans.
Narrowing your search to accelerators with industry specific focus can help you access relevant business advisory, industry leaders, a strong network of suitable partners and mentors, and access to capital and talent. Some examples of tech accelerators and their industry(s) of focus are:
Capital acquisition begins with a compelling pitch and access to strategically aligned investors. Depending on your company stage and how quickly you project to scale, aligned business advisory can be critical to getting your company prepared for investment. If you’re seeking investment for your startup, an aligned accelerator can assist in how to leverage funding and plan your scale strategy to meet your capital milestones.
Understanding how you will engage with mentors and openness to the mentor matching process should also factor into your decision. Will you benefit more from having access to 1-on-1 opportunities or do you thrive bouncing ideas off of other people in group sessions? An impressive list of mentors may leave you thinking you know exactly who you wish to connect with, but they may not actually be the right fit for you. If mentorship is valuable to you, trust the accelerator you’re working with to take careful consideration when connecting you with the right advisors.
Being part of an accelerator should come with access to a varied ecosystem of other startups, partners, and resources that may play a role in your company's success. Consider, for instance, academic partners in the accelerator’s network that could assist in talent acquisition. A strong accelerator cultivates a culture that fosters a resilient, visionary, and results-focused experience for your company.
Lastly, consider how the accelerator honors and supports a diverse startup ecosystem. Some accelerators offer programs or startup networks for female founders, youth founders, black founders and members of the LGBTQQIP2SAA community.
Within the tech ecosystem, there will be a place where your company’s needs will be met and a network that will help you reach your goals. A strong understanding of your current stage and what exactly you wish to get out of the accelerator experience, accompanied by research on potential accelerators is a great place to start when finding your position in the ecosystem.
Ask questions and attend orientation sessions to learn more about the accelerator and whether it’s the right fit.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,500 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.