Don’t join an accelerator programs — form your own panel of advisors

Let’s face it, not all startups want to join an accelerator program.

Joining an accelerator requires giving up 6–12% equity for couple of weeks of training/mentorship and hope of seed investment at demo day. This may not sound attractive to startups that fall under these categories:

  • You understand the startup landscape — e.g. you have started or have worked in a startup before
  • You have already validated your idea with users and have a vague idea what your business model would be
  • You have achieved product-market fit and are fairly confident you can get funded provided you have the right contacts
  • You just want mentorship and introduction/networking opportunities

In today’s world of abundant startup advice and startup veterans (a good booklist here), it doesn’t make sense to go to accelerator programs just for advice.

While some accelerators are world class with top notch advisors (Y Combinator), there are mediocre ones and only provide the most generic advice that has no depth that is no difference to speaking with a great person for 30mins.

Once you have passed the very first stage of getting the idea right, business context matters. Imagine this, you already accumulated knowledge of your customers, your proposition.

You need advisors willing to devote time to understand the situational context of your business and have long term interest in your success. They also need to be accessible and maintain a relationship with you. By staying with the startup, the advisor will see impact of decisions made over time and will understand the business better, while still providing guidance from a different perspective.

In short, you need a panel of advisors with different domain expertise, motivated by a small amount of equity (combined value still much lower than the 6–12%). Ideally they would still be in the field or are two-steps-ahead (see article here) so their advice are fresh, unlike some mediocre accelerator mentors who apply old frameworks repeated.

Making the right decisions matters. Get help from those two-step ahead of you and help others too. Find out more about startup advisory through

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