3 things startup founders need to know about accelerators

8th May 2017
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New startups are cropping up all across the world on a daily basis. The startup craze is real and the entrepreneurs running these startups have a fierce drive to succeed. Several startup leaders have to make the crucial choice between looking for funding or bootstrapping their business. Accelerator programmes serve as a middle ground and are often the perfect choice for budding entrepreneurs who are looking for new networks, investment, and mentorship. But before opting for an accelerator programme, startups should weigh the pros and cons that go with it. Sometimes, you will have to give up a large chunk of equity in exchange for limited investment, at other times you might have to relocate to take advantage of a specific accelerator. Airbnb and 9Gag are two companies that have benefited greatly from accelerators.

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Here's a list of three important things startup founders should take into consideration before participating in an accelerator programme.

Deliberate if your company is in need of an accelerator

Before you join an accelerator programme, you must make sure that your company is at the right stage. While some programmes accept startups that are still in their nascent stages of development, others require a minimum viable product to go by. Often, accelerators ask startups to provide certain things like documents, business plans, and video presentations. Thus, before signing up, you should keep the above things ready. Also, make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully so that you know what you're getting into before you apply. Staying prepared is essential and will always work in your favour.

Ensure your startup is a perfect fit

Once you have decided to be part of an accelerator programme, you'll want to ensure that you're accepted. Be clear about your startup's goals before you apply. Without a clear plan, you'll fail to meet the requirements of an accelerator and won't be able to impress the people evaluating your application. Many startup accelerators have their own distinct visions. It is, therefore, best to ensure that your company's vision aligns with the accelerator's before going ahead.

Make the perfect pitch

Startup founders make a few big mistakes while pitching their companies to accelerator programmes. The first mistake is being too technical when selling a solution. Dashboards and algorithms are enjoyable, but for the most business-minded crowd, the value your startup brings to the table is what ultimately counts. Tailor your pitch to the audience you're speaking to as too much jargon will make your product opaque. How you position your product in the market also matters. You should be able to distinguish yourself clearly and show how you'll target your section of the market.

If you do decide to participate in an accelerator programme, remember that mission, connections, and progress are all key factors for your startup's success. If you cultivate the right network, there will be no stopping you as you overtake your rivals.

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