Is jumping on the incubator/accelerator bandwagon really worth it for me ?
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M.R.

 

…a question startups or potential startups face more often than they’d like. Incubators and accelerators share many traits- networks, classes, mentors-but incubators tend to be longer (one to five years), and they don't frequently offer funding. Accelerators, by contrast, usually offer funding in exchange for equity, tend to have short programs (as brief as three months), and seek to ready startups for seed funding.

Even though mostly accelerators are a positive thing based on the idea that if they’re investing and providing mentorship to startups, they’re by definition helpful. The whole culture of helping founders and companies and steering them in the right direction can improve their communities and provide a network even if they might not all be economically successful. The most valuable takeaway from a good accelerator can probably be gauged from the quality of outcomes for the founders whose companies hit a wall during or after the program.

Most accelerators offer common workspaces, a program of classes and seminars, access to top business mentors, and an opportunity to pitch to investors .With all their shiny marketing and promise of a bright future this can quickly turn into a decelerator if the model doesn’t suit your business plan. Before applying for an accelerator program, it is worth the time and effort to ask a few questions to make sure if the enrolling your business is the best way to move ahead. There are many stories of founders who say they would be better off had they not become a part of an accelerator.

Finding the best accelerator can be challenging, but when you choose well, entrepreneurs say, rewards can be enormous: invaluable business advice, new connections, introductions to potential investors, and the help and camaraderie of other startups.

With some success stories there are bad experiences too.The facilities provided by some accelerators couldn’t be farther from the façade of glittery marketing. Many startups that have registered for these sessions have only later found the mentoring sessions to be group chats , working environments uncomfortable and funding that just didn’t justify the equity share.

Truth be said the money given to startups by accelerators is really not much more than a stipend for feeding the founders cheaply, and other expenses like paying rent and paying the legal team. The rest just gets used on marketing experiments and maybe paying for hosting and other web services. So if the gain isn’t much more than early stage marketing it makes sense to ponder what proportion of previous cohorts’ startups are still alive and kicking? And which of them is growing like a tech startup rather than a small-to-medium enterprise? For some startups, it may be worth considering these options as there are a number of great accelerators with reputation for helping enterprise startups or great opportunities for anyone looking for solid media connections.

Even though the amount of money is not the main consideration when weighing up accelerators, still it is strongly recommended there should be some money given to the startup in return for equity .The goal is to have startups focus on building their company and pretty much nothing else for the foreseeable future, so not having to take on consulting gigs or other jobs just to feed themselves is important to their survival.


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