So… What is an accelerator?
In the startup world, buzzwords get thrown around left, right and centre, and sometimes it’s hard to discern meaning from the chaos.
An accelerator is an intensive program designed to progress your business in its journey at an ‘accelerated’ rate. They generally include mentorship and training, and culminate in a public pitch event or demo day. Programs are typically designed to enable entrepreneurs to have the skills and toolkits to grow and scale. It is common, though not universal, for accelerators to be delivered in cohorts.
An accelerator is not a non-stop ride to success or handing over your business to others to do the work for you. Accelerator programs are intensive and require a lot of hard work, sweat, and tears. Entrepreneurs are expected to learn from and apply the feedback and lessons learned throughout the program, utilising information in strategic decisions and making the most of the experts available to them.
How is an accelerator different to an incubator?
The fundamental difference between an incubator and an accelerator is that accelerators have a finite duration. This really forces these companies to get a lot done get in a very short period of time, often a period of 2-4 months. It is basically intended to jumpstart your business and then kick you out of the nest. Incubators are more likely to last for 6-12 months and often involves physically locating your business in one central workspace with many other startup companies.
Other differences vary between service providers, including whether office space is provided, the level of support given, whether equity in the company is taken, and money is given or invested. Some incubators and accelerators invest in their startups, some do not. Some are cohort based, others are not.
Are these programs right for you?
Deciding on whether or not an incubator or accelerator will be valuable for you largely comes down to your personal confidence in the defensibility of your business model, your execution skills and your fundraising skills. If you have a credible story and your business is smoothly progressing on your own, you probably don’t need to be part of one of these programs. But, if you need help fine tuning your business model or revenue model, or may be a first time CEO wanting to hone your skills from proven peers and entrepreneurs, then this type of program could be perfect for you.
Why would you want to be involved in one?
One of the reasons people partake in an accelerator program is to gain commercial acumen, thus helping to avoid typical startup pitfalls and speeding up your efforts. The programs generally offer mentoring and networking opportunities, as well as public relations value and exposure, which should not be underestimated.
Another primary reason is to access capital. Investors in Australia are less, shall we say ‘liberal’ (or more risk averse), than those we hear of in Silicon Valley. They expect a high standard from the companies they invest in and conduct thorough due diligence assessments. The process that can be long and painful, especially if the business is unprepared. Some accelerators work to ensure their startup participants will pass investor tests before they actually begin their investment raise (One10’s Amplify program is one example). They may also facilitate investor introductions, or advise where to look for investors.
One10 is an accelerator.
Activate helps entrepreneurs at the start of their journey. If you have identified a problem that needs solving (and maybe have an idea of how to solve it), Activate will unleash your potential to create meaningful change by providing you with the practical skills necessary to innovate with purpose. From hypotheses formation to idea validation, we will show you how to think with a lean startup entrepreneur mindset, and equip you with the tools you'll need to build strong foundations for your startup.
Amplify helps startups that have achieved some traction (i.e. sales) but want to grow their business and their impact. If you have a positive impact startup, Amplify works with you to get investor-ready. We will help you develop your best go-to-market strategy, build investment-readiness, and raise seed capital. Highly tailored for your unique organisation, our Amplify Program will reinforce what's good, adapt what's shaky, and launch you forward to the next level – all while holding your values at the core.
Applications are open for our 2017 Activate and Amplify programs from 1st Dec to 6th Jan. Programs will run in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Geelong, but spaces are limited.