Accelerators vs. Incubators w/ Dimitris Kouravos & John Lynn

We sat down with both Dimitris Kouravos and John Lynn and they gave us an audio Tell All book version of what to expect when you get into an accelerator. Most importantly though, we want you to learn accelerator etiquette and how to maximize your chances of getting into one and stand apart from the literal thousands of entrepreneurs vying for their attention.

An accelerator’s purpose is to be the middleman between an unknown quality (yourself) and investors. In the days before accelerators, there were just too many variables that made it difficult for investors to make informed decisions. Accelerators prep you and take your startup off its training wheels so to speak in order to make you as yummy as humanly. Here is 3 tips to make the door ahead of you have a better chance of opening up.

Give first, ask later

One common theme of the Game of Thrones character,Tyrion Lannister, is that he has a knack for finding out the motivations and interests of others and tying them to himself. He makes himself needed in that person’s life. He often meets someone, reads them, and next dives deeper into their desires through light hearted banter. Humor breaks down walls and makes people more agreeable to opening up. Once he either confirms his original hypothesis, or makes a new one, he makes that person believe that he is the one to help them get what they want in life.

Adopt this mentality, the give first mentality. Giving also includes good conversation and just hearing people vent their frustrations. Get a sense of what’s driving that person or where they want to go and how they’re having problems getting there. Then show how you may potentially be a solution for them down the line. Do not give your business card within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. Let him or her get to know who you are first before you leap into pitch mode. Finesse it a little and play it cool at first because gatekeepers get bombarded by pitches everywhere they go and it’s refreshing when someone realizes this and approaches them not with a hand extended outward but a pleasant conservation first.

Listen more, Talk Less

A pet peeve of gatekeepers is that you see him or her on an elevator and you just won’t let them talk. Don’t be so anxious for your shot that you forget that we’re all human at the end of the day and don’t want to talk business every chance we get. They aren’t on call every hour of the day and a soft approach can you further than a cold one. It’s better to spend a minute or two just shooting the breeze then set up a more formal pitch over coffee.

Understand your business and why you need moolah

You don’t know what you don’t know so when someone asks you metric based questions (i.e. MRR, Burn Rate, etc.) or just want to get a better understanding of your business, you need to wow them with your knowledge. For example, if a gatekeeper asked you why you needed $500k in investment and you said “growth”, that’s an automatic turn off. Details my friend, give details. They want to know specifically how it’s going to be spent and to what level would this investment take you to. Vague answers are not your friend when it comes to other people’s money. A good story followed by the metrics behind your business is enough to get your point across.

And P.S., leave the NDA’s at home as gatekeepers will not sign them.You’re idea could already be being worked on by competitors so this is just something you’ll have to accept. Besides, the potential of a company has more to do with the people behind it than just the idea itself.

Things mentioned in this podcast

Newark Venture Partners Accelerator

NYC Innovation Collective

The Studio Project

Dimitris Kouvaros on Twitter

John Lynn on Twitter

Melissa S. Jackson

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