Should You Consider an Accelerator?

by Nicole Baez Sweat, Founder | Analytics Strategy & User Research Expert

Considering an accelerator for your startup? There are a number of accelerators out there and quite a few have recently launched with a focus on founders of color. The right accelerator will help you create and build a scalable startup and give you access to investors. I broke down a few high level themes every founder / participant should ask as they do due diligence before joining ANY accelerator. This is not only your company / your business, but your equity, peace of mind and potential is at stake. Don’t join an accelerator solely on the basis that they are centered on people or women of color.

Photo by Christian Fregnan

Ask for …

1. Their Track Record

Can this program or any program provide you with the data that proves they can do what they say they can do? Whether you want to raise an Angel round, provide you with a network in the vertical your business is in, or has the technical knowledge and background to help you scale, ask them for proof before signing up. This helps you avoid wasting your time — more importantly your equity. If they cannot prove this with hard, cold data and facts, not just anecdotal stories and inspiration about black girl magic, it is not worth your time. Please don’t consider them.

2. A List of their Investors

You should know if they can support you and introduce you to VCs / Angels to raise funding. Do they have solid relationships with investors? Get details on their funding in writing.

from Unsplash

3. Referrals from Past Founders

If their program is amazing and has the potential to help you scale, they will have founders with glowing reviews from their recent experiences. If they do not have this, should they be trusted with helping you grow and scale your business?

4. A Program Guide, Timetable & Schedule

Programming should be established and planned for the duration of your program. If the accelerator your considering does not have this, it will add more stress and confusion to running your business, not to mention distract you from the goals you are trying to achieve.

5. Proof of Scaling a Venture

Ensure the person leading the program (your day to day point of contact) has scaled a venture before or has worked at a modern tech company. Launching a company in the 90s is not the same as launching the next Uber; this is crucial to understand. There is nothing that replaces experience, and many founders, including myself, figured out too late that we had more technical experience, background and knowledge than anyone running the particular accelerator which I participated.

I hope you find these tips helpful as you consider participating in an accelerator for your startup. If you have already participated in an accelerator, share additional things to consider in the comments!

Good luck!

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