“Do more faster.” That is the description that the founders of the prestigious accelerator TechStars give to an accelerator program. They accelerate start-ups and scale-ups through an intensive program of workshops, support and networking. And that has already produced great results. Take Airbnb, Dropbox and Stripe, for example. But accelerators are not useful for a start-up in every phase. That’s why we give 5 reasons why you should or shouldn’t participate.
Reason 1: you want to speed up
The main reason you join an accelerator is to accelerate your growth. That aspect distinguishes an accelerator from an incubator. While incubators tend to be low-key, less intensive and longer-term, accelerators guide a small, exclusive group of start-ups during a
short and intensive trajectory
of usually 3 to 6 months. In this short period of time, with the support of mentors, you will be looking for a product-market fit, raise capital, and capture new customers.
An accelerator also strengthens a company’s credibility with customers and investors, and usually ensures that founders grow on a personal level. Accelerators therefore prove their usefulness at different points in the life cycle of start-ups and scale-ups, from early to late. Be careful though: accelerators usually want you to be there already. So if you have a working product, prototype or customers that’s a plus. However, the common denominator is always the need to accelerate.
Reason 2: You want a mentor
“Quality mentorship is the secret sauce behind a great accelerator,” states Alex Iskold, the managing director of TechStars New York. Every accelerator has experts and experienced entrepreneurs associated with their program, and their support can be the secret weapon for your startup. Usually, this corps consists of
consists of experienced entrepreneurs, experts and CEOs. They help founders based on their network and experience. A very useful boost for any entrepreneur!
Reason 3: You want to network
Besides the mentors, there are of course the other participants in the accelerator. Most accelerators admit one or two batches of startups to their program each year, and usually they share a co-working space together. Also alumni of the accelerator are often present.
That period of intense growing together creates a bond between the participants, and that can help you find clients, advice and support. Joining an accelerator is not only a choice for yourself, but also for the other startups and the alumni network of the accelerator.
Reason 4: you want to specialise (or not at all)
A lot of accelerators specialize in a specific field or industry, which helps participants to launch themselves in that specific industry. Other accelerators choose to work more broadly and allow cross-fertilization between different types of start-ups.
Both types of accelerators exist in Belgium. The BESIX construction group, for example, has set up a programme on construction and property technology. On the other hand, there are accelerators like us that focus more on cross-fertilization between different types of start-ups.
Reason 5: you want support
Accelerators offer a range of services, from marketing and coaching to help in the search for funding. Besides personal coaching, most accelerators organize a Intensive schedule of workshopsworkshops, which further strengthen the gathering of knowledge. This can provide much-needed growth for companies and help them address specific challenges.
Convinced that an accelerator is something for you?
Register until June 7 for the next Birdhouse accelerator program starting in August!