When you have a startup, every decision is critical. You need to focus on what will help your business grow and succeed.
Traditionally, the best way to grow a business was to rely on friends and family and build it as you go. That worked for a while; but with the advent of the internet and social media, there are now new, better ways to grow your business. One way is by joining a seed accelerator program. To be a successful founder, you must have access to capital, mentorship and other resources, like a workspace. Enrolling in an accelerator program will help you avoid becoming one of the 30% of startups that fail within the first two to five years.
Accelerator programs are considered one of the best ways to grow a business. They offer mentorship, funding and networking opportunities. If you’re a startup or small business, then you’ve likely heard about accelerators or may be planning to join one. However, before taking any action, several questions might arise in our minds: Is it the right time to join an accelerator? Will it help our startup journey?
Before we proceed to explain the reasons why you should join an accelerator program, let’s understand what startup accelerators are.
What are seed accelerators?
Accelerators, for the layperson, are fixed-term, cohort programs that eventually result in a graduation-cum-pitch event, or demo day, to secure funding. Accelerators offer a slightly quicker path to obtaining guidance, networking and funding in this competitive market. Several well-known tech companies, including Dropbox, Airbnb and Stripe, went through accelerator programs in their initial stages.
One must note that there are different types of accelerators for each startup that cater to different industries. For instance, seed accelerators usually last two to four months and focus on helping startups develop their business fundamentals before pitching their ideas to investors. Second stage accelerators, on the other hand, are designed for more mature startups and provide more support, such as mentorship and networking opportunities, over a longer period to help these entrepreneurs grow even further! There are also corporate accelerators, which are sponsored by big organizations, like Disney and Microsoft, to help entrepreneurs build innovative products while also assisting with growth at the sponsoring organizations.
Accelerators in Southeast Asia taking center stage
Silicon Valley-based company Y Combinator launched the first independent seed accelerator program in 2005 in Boston, making the concept popular throughout the United States. Since then, accelerators have been around for years. Recently, Southeast Asia has been taking center stage in this new movement. Two regions have proven themselves to be leaders when it comes to investing and growing their startup communities—Singapore and Hong Kong. Some of the top accelerators in Singapore are 500 Startups, Accelerating Asia, Antler, GROW and Entrepreneur First. As for Hong Kong, StartmeupHK, Azalo Project powered by Jumpstart Magazine, Betatron are some of the popular accelerator programs in the region.
It’s hard to deny the benefits that accelerators can bring to a young startup. So, here are some of the reasons why joining one will be a smart move for your startup.
Why joining an accelerator is a good idea
1. To network with others
Accelerator programs often have extensive networks of investors (venture capitalists (VCs) and angel investors), entrepreneurs, startup lawyers and other professionals that startups can benefit from. This can be a great way to meet potential customers, partners or investors. Moreover, through speaking with other entrepreneurs who have gone through similar struggles as you are now, you can learn how they managed to overcome those and continue to bloom. According to the Co-Founder and CEO of Techstars, David Brown, “The companies emerging from accelerator programs do incredible things when their founders have been able to leverage the value of the associated network”.
2. To access mentorship
There’s a reason why startups that complete accelerator programs have a 23% greater chance of survival than their competitors. Accelerator programs provide access to experienced mentors who can help you navigate the early stages of startup life. These mentors can offer advice on everything, from product development to fundraising and marketing. Working with industry experts and veterans can help you avoid costly mistakes. For instance, your startup is bound for failure if you don’t handle cash flow correctly and don’t have a grasp of the ins and outs of financial management. You might be hiring too many people too soon instead of the right one or spending money to fill the top management position rather than investing in the operating departments.
3. To learn and grow with structured programs
While an accelerator program may appear to be only a few months long, there will be a lot of activities that will benefit both you and your company. Meetings with mentors, feedback sessions, demo day presentations, networking and social activities are all part of an accelerator program. These programs will teach startup founders the essential skills, such as financial management and marketing, they’ll need to run their dream venture.
Overall, accelerator programs are a kind of educational experience where startup owners can learn at a high pace in a short time. It’s almost like learning everything you need to know to run a business within just a few months! Whether you’re a first-time entrepreneur who is still learning the intricacies of running a business or you’ve been in the game for a while, an accelerator program can be valuable to help you take your startup to the next level. However, keep in mind that not every accelerator offers the same guidance—do your research to find one that fits your needs!
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