Accelerators have now become an almost indispensable component of the startup ecosystem in most parts of the world where business happens. When it comes to first- time founders, accelerators are one checkbox that’s always ticked off first. It is not just that companies who need to raise funding should choose accelerators. Even if the startup has crossed the funding stage, there is still a lot to learn from what an accelerator offers.
We’ve broken down 5 reasons why you should join an accelerator
1. YOU ARE IN NEED OF FEEDBACK & MENTORSHIP
The secret sauce to a great accelerator is quality mentorship. Accelerators provide a network of entrepreneurs, investors who share their experience and whose guidance can visibly help accelerate your business.
Some crucial and most commonly asked questions about the business — Is your business model correct for the market? What is the revenue model? Is this going to be a big business? Is this venture fundable? While you answer these questions, you need to keep in mind the feedback you receive and how can it make a difference to the existing situation.
2. YOU HAVE FAITH IN YOUR BUSINESS IDEA
You trust your instincts and your plan and now is the time to test it. To discover how workable your idea is, you need to accelerate it via a ton of testing, getting customer feedback, discussions with mentors and accelerator staff, and setting goals and measuring progress.
You will do all of this with the goal to find product/market fit, and then step on the gas to get growth and prepare business for financing. That is, you compress what normally happens over much longer periods of time down to days and weeks. You essentially force yourself and your company through the process and that’s an awesome way to do it.
3. YOU ARE LOOKING FOR BUSINESS ACCELERATION
If you already have traction and early product/market fit, you may benefit from business acceleration. Techstars, in particular, is known for its large, worldwide network that can connect your business with potential customers in a matter of hours.
By leveraging the network, you are short-cutting the lengthy business development process and rapidly accelerating your business. If your product is great, you can turn introductions into customers and quickly grow your revenue in a matter of weeks and months, while normally it would take months and years.
4. YOU ARE PREPARING FOR FINANCING
Whether you are a first-time founder or a veteran, raising money is never easy. A good accelerator will prepare you for financing, not just by introducing you to investors—that’s the easy part—but by actually working with you to help ensure that you have an interesting, healthy, and defensible business.
You will work through the questions the investors will ask: What is the value here? Who are the customers? What are your traction and growth like? What’s your competition like? What is the market opportunity? What are the costs and revenue projections? What’s the hiring plan? What does this business look like at scale? All of these and many more questions get worked through to prepare you for funding.
5. YOU ENJOY AN INTENSE ENVIRONMENT AND COMPETITION
Accelerator environments are typically really intense. At least at Techstars, the companies really Do More Faster, and it is amazing how much they accomplish in a short period of time. If the accelerator is laid back, well, then it’s not likely to accelerate you. Figure this out before you join. You do want a super intense, fast-paced environment that will leapfrog your company.
And you have to want to go through this experience with other startups. You learn a ton from each other and you also naturally compete. Who has made the biggest progress this week? Who landed the biggest client? Who has the most users? Who has the best pitch? It is a great natural competitive environment, but it is also the place to gain friends and business partners for life. Nothing else bonds founders like going through an accelerator together.