Event Recap

Accelerate to Prosperity with Business Accelerators: Investment Conference Panel

February 19, 2018

Do you want help getting your startup investment-ready? If so, our panel of experts says, an accelerator might be for you.

At our Investment Conference on 15th November, Catherine Young of South African consulting firm ThinkRoom moderated a panel of representatives from some of the world’s best business accelerators: Rose Lewis from ColliderKevin Monserrat from Microsoft Accelerator, and Max Kelly from TechStars.

Here’s what we learned from their discussion.

Accelerators are booming.

In the past five years, the number of accelerators across the UK, as well as the rest of the world, has exploded. This gives startups more options than ever before, but it also creates confusion over which accelerators to enter—and whether an accelerator is becoming a prerequisite to success.

According to the panel, an accelerator is not a prerequisite and entering one should not be a goal in and of itself. Rather, entrepreneurs should only consider an accelerator if entering one happens to make sense for their businesses. 

As for selecting an accelerator…

Choose your accelerator wisely.

Not all of the world’s thousands of accelerators are created equal. The panel admits that there are some lousy ones that will only cost a business time and money. This is why it’s critical not to enter an accelerator only to impress investors. Instead, consider what value your business will gain from the experience.

Mind the mentors.

One of the most important factors in choosing an accelerator is the mentors you will work with. Do as much research as possible to learn:

  • how much experience the mentors have in your sector. Most accelerators welcome businesses from all sectors, but the mentors available will have their own areas of expertise, for which they will be able to provide relevant connections and expertise. Also note that mentors of a certain specialisation may cluster in certain geographic areas. For example, Los Angeles accelerators are frequented by many music industry experts.
  • how involved the mentors are. Some are “mentors” only in name, only joining the accelerator to add something new to their LinkedIn profiles.

Come prepared.

Different accelerators accept businesses at different stages, but none are likely to accept a mere “man with a plan.” Accelerator applicants generally need to come with a business plan, a team, and basic research on their market and competition.

Don’t be an accelerator-hopper.

While some very successful companies have gone through multiple accelerators, jumping from one accelerator to the next as you build your business is not a sound strategy. It’s not only a distraction but also a signal to investors that you don’t have the confidence to run a business on your own.

Support continues after the programme.

All panelists agreed that support from the accelerator doesn’t end when a business leaves the programme. Participants will still enjoy exclusive meetings with investors, alumni events, online platforms for asking questions and other benefits.

The overall takeaway from the panel was that the right accelerator can provide tremendous value for the right business to help fill in its gaps before approaching investors.

Looking for more tips to get investment-ready? Come to our 28th November workshop, ‘Getting Investment-Ready: Strategy and Valuation.’ The event will be held at London’s WeWork Moorgate and begin at 6:00 p.m. Get your tickets here!

Do you have a question? Contact us now!

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