Developing a brilliant business concept with great potential or a valuable Intellectual Property (IP) is only the first step in your entrepreneurship journey. Transforming the idea into a commercially viable product and building a company from the ground up is a far more complex project. Considering that close to 10% of startups fail within the first year and at least 70% go bust in the next two to five years, you’ll need a lot more support. And, the ideal place to get it is with the best startup accelerators.
When you set out to apply for a good program, you’ll find that there are close to 7,000 accelerators in different industries, offering diverse training environments to assist entrepreneurs. So, how would you choose the best program suitable for your needs and niche? Read ahead for more information about how to make the right choice and get the best returns from the time and effort you invest into it.
1. Choose the Right Niche-Specific Accelerator Program
All startup accelerators are not built alike, and you’ll choose the program that offers mentoring and advice in the specific industry where you work. For instance, if you’re developing a new software app for playing games, you’ll need networking and guidance in the tech niche, which significantly differs from a home appliance field.
Look for an agency that is recognized as a notable institution in your niche, especially if you’re totally unfamiliar with how it works. You can tap into their knowledge base and connect with industry experts while getting validation for fundraising rounds.
2. Determine the Stage Where Your Startup is At
Before signing up with a startup accelerator program, determine where your business is at. If you already have a product prototype and are generating sales, you’ll need a program that preps you for growth with a focus on fundraising. Then again, if you only have a prototype, you’ll need guidance with marketing, advertising, and customer acquisition.
Accordingly, you’ll evaluate the perks and mentoring the agency provides before entering. While accelerators gauge entrepreneurs and their ideas before offering them assistance, the reverse is also true. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your options and vet out the agency. Make sure to ask relevant questions like–what kind of support do you offer?
3. Startup Accelerator Programs Require Time
If you wish to participate in an accelerator program, prepare to dedicate three to six months of your time, possibly on-site, at the office premises they allocate. You’ll receive the necessary infrastructure, staff assistance, supplies, and any other resources you need. The environment is dynamic, focused, and intense, with expectations of results.
You’ll also spend time networking and interacting with the potential investors who partner with the accelerator agencies. Expect to attend workshops, seminars, and lectures where you can learn the ropes about establishing and running a business. On the flip side, entrepreneurs that cannot commit all that time may want to look for other avenues to get the assistance they need.
4. Check for Geographical Location
Since startup accelerators are typically location-based, offering assistance to entrepreneurs in certain geographies, you’ll choose the right program with care. Then again, also inquire if they support new ventures targeting markets in specific locations only. If you can’t relocate for even a short time, you may have to look for programs closer to your home base. Also, ensure that the mentoring and support they offer align with your business mission, objectives, and goals.
5. Equity and Other Terms and Conditions
Most accelerator programs are non-profit organizations run by public or private entities. They’ll offer assistance through a contract where you’ll agree to give up a small part of your company equity in exchange. Make sure this is something you want to do before signing up. You’ll also read up on the other terms and conditions in the contract before signing. Most importantly, be aware that although the agencies partner with investors that will fund your business, their terms may be different from the accelerators.
Entrepreneurs in 2022 have a wide range of accelerator programs to select from when looking for assistance to set up and grow their startups. Evaluate what they can offer you before signing up with the ideal agency that aligns with your business goals and objectives.