Many startups today look to accelerator programmes to give their business the “jump start” they need to get ahead.
Starting a business is really hard!
So an accelerator programme can open doors, connect the founders with people people that can help, provide opportunities for growth and enable founders to test the market/product offering in a supported environment.
But getting into an accelerator can be a challenging process, especially the best accelerator programs in the world that are largely based in the USA.
Accelerator programmes are set, structured programmes. Successful applicant startups typically spend 3-6 months working with other Startups in the programme, to build out their business. They are mentored by professionals who have expertise in key areas like strategy, business planning, marketing, branding, finance and product.
One of the most well know accelerators in the USA is Y Combinator, founded in 2005. Twice a year their programme runs with Startups relocating to silicon valley for three months to participate. Y Combinator has been one the most successful of the USA accelerators, in fact arguably the most successful int he world, with graduates like, Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, Heroku, Optimizely and Reddit, just to name a few.
During each 3 month programme, there are weekly dinners at which experts are invited to give a relevant talk. Speakers include startups, founders, VC’s, Journalists and executives from well-known technology companies. There are also demo days, pitching events and workshops. Y combinator has a large alumni of which it can draw upon and make introductions and open doors for new participants.
The goal of a good accelerator is to help a startup do roughly two years of business building in just a few months and then raise more capital at a strong valuation. If you are assisted by a good accelerator, an entrepreneur will know exactly where the business stands at the end of the programme.
Unfortunately, Australia doesn’t have the history or success of silicon valley technology companies; the incubators and accelerators here are still building their profile. Slingshot founded in 2013, BlueChilli founded in 2012 and MuruD found in 2014 are all relatively new to the market, so are still having to prove their business model. ATP Innovations (Now Cicada), Incubate and Startmate are among the best performing programs in the country.
Since Australia doesn’t have the history or success rates of silicon valley, many Australian Startups look to the US to apply to accelerators. But with applications being sent from all over the world to US accelerators like Y Combinator, Australian Startups need to be globally competitive to be considered.
When applying to any accelerator, Australian Startups should consider the following details when submitting their application:
Your startup should have a strong team. Who are your founders and key executives? What are their roles? Do they have relevant experience or track records? Is your team well balanced? Do you have a technical cofounder? Are there any skill gaps?
What problem are you trying to solve? Is it huge and global? Don’t build a solution in search of a problem. Clearly identify a real problem that actually keeps people awake at night. Investors want to see you addressing a real and current need. Don’t talk about broad industry problems.
Investors will always feel more comfortable investing in a company with live and gaining rapid traction. Show data and dates, create a story over time.
Core proprietary technology:
Globally competitive companies are building truly unique core technology. Often this is built by one of the founders. Companies that are the "uber for xyz" will no longer cut it.
Even if your startup has all of these characteristics, your chances of getting in are very slim. Don’t be fooled. Accelerators are a form of Venture Capital. They take equity in the Startup, so your business needs to fit into a VC investment model.
Click on the link, if you would like more details on how to create a Pitch Deck to Wow investors and Venture Capital.