Accelerators not only help entrepreneurs learn the ropes of running a business, but they also help businessmen gain valuable connections. However, founders need to find the right accelerators that fit their needs. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Moritz Plassnig, Founder of Codeship, offers some smart advice on using elite accelerators like Techstars and Y Combinator. Here are some do's and don'ts he mentions:
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Don't expect it to be all fun and games
Moritz says that participating in Techstars was one of the most rewarding yet taxing phases of his life. Most accelerator programmes go on for a couple of weeks or they even stretch to a few months. They generally have jam-packed schedules loaded with intense mentorship sessions, presentations, and a demo day. Entrepreneurs participating in these programmes won't have a lot of free time to do anything else. They need to be mentally prepared to hand over their responsibilities to someone they trust so they can focus on the program without any distractions.
Do take into consideration the bigger picture
Make sure that the accelerators you choose are aligned with your company's vision before you hop on board. It is best to look for accelerators in the location where you plan to expand your business. For example, Moritz wanted to relocate his business from Austria to Boston, and therefore he looked at programmes in that area. Do your homework before you apply. It is best to make an informed decision by looking at the whole picture.
Don't expect other people to do your job
Though an accelerator programme is educational by nature, you can't expect your mentor to constantly nag you to get your work done. An accelerator programme is a great opportunity, but entrepreneurs will only get out of it what they are willing to give. Give your company all you have and constantly work towards making it a success. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it as you wouldn't want a single error to let all your hard work go to waste.
Do get the most out of the network you build
Always have your elevator pitch ready and constantly think about how the people involved in the programme can be of guidance to you. Hit the ground running and get customers. Keep your most viable product (MVP) ready to sell. When you prove to the people around you that you're ready to build a profitable venture, they'll be more likely to take a chance on you.
Don't while away precious time
Wake up every day ready to win. Make most out of this one big chance to make your dream a reality and listen intently to every piece of idea you are given. Savour every moment as the programme will be over even before you know it.
In conclusion, Moritz says, “I made vital connections, expanded my local network, received excellent advice, and increased my work ethic due to long hours of training sessions, demonstration preparations, and mentorship meetings. By the time my team and I graduated from the programme, we had attracted local investors and were on our way to receiving our Series A funding.” However, not all accelerator programmes are created equal, and it is best to weigh the above do's and don'ts before committing to one.
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