When you have an idea for a business, making that idea become a reality takes time, considerable effort, lots of hard work and on occasion perhaps a little luck too. As we have mentioned in previous posts, there are increasing numbers of people, Places and Spaces that can help you transform that idea of yours into an actual startup business. We’ve outlined in the past for example the networking events that can help, the Business Incubators that you can join and also one of the most exciting – the Accelerator Program. It is these that we are going to look at in a little more detail today.
An Accelerator Program is generally a specialist program designed to assist a startup business with financial and operational resources to enhance its’ chance of growth and success. Sounds quite similar to a Business Incubator, doesn’t it? But there are clear differences. Accelerator Programs usually have a restrictive time element – generally from 3 months to 1 year. There is usually a competitive application process to join an accelerator program and they are in essence, extremely intensive fast-track growth programs.
The last number of years has seen massive growth in both the numbers and types of Accelerators that are available to the Startup community all across the world. And that growth is certainly not just happening by chance. Accelerators are proving to be the exact type of business environment that a fledgling startup needs.
Generally, within a defined time period, most Accelerator Programs offer the following key elements :
– an intensive structured programme of training sessions and events covering everything from legal advice through to sales pitching
– seed investment in your business, generally in exchange for equity
– introductions and developing of relationships with key investors, funders and business mentors
– co-working with a small group or class of other startups
– ongoing support and feedback on your business product or service
– “demo days” where you can launch your product or service to investors and potential clients
The big advantage that Accelerators offer is that there are benefits for all parties involved.
For the Startup, benefits include:
– an intensive preparation for the “real world” of business
– invaluable mentoring from experienced professionals who have been there and done that themselves
– ongoing peer support which not only helps encourage but also stimulates healthy competition
– direct links to funders and investors
– the ability to showcase your product or service
For the Investor, benefits include:
– direct access to potential investment opportunities at the earliest possible stage
– the opportunity to find out about new products and technologies before they hit the market
– access to startup businesses that as the program goes on are already proving their worth, value and potential profitability and therefore are less risky investments
– networking opportunities with other investors and funders
Where are these Accelerators based?
Although Accelerators originated in the US with the likes of Techstars and Y-Combinator, there have been more and more in the UK and Ireland over the last number of years, and there are strong indications that even more will be developed over the next few years, by both local councils, economic development groups and universities as well as independent and private investors.
Check out page 2 to find out who some of the main players in the UK and Ireland are…
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