Now we have some formalities out of the way (check out my last musings), let’s get into the invaluable role accelerators can play for start-ups! Using the insight and experience I’ve gained over the years, I now work closely with start-ups and pre-seed and seed growth businesses on a few things. Whilst this isn’t an exhaustive list, but gives a flavour of some of things I help with (outside of my day job):
· How to strategically unlock the next stage of growth
· How to curate investor pitch decks and improve storytelling
· How to launch a new customer proposition by way of service or product
· How to build a viable business case, including op modelling
What is an Accelerator programme?
As it says on the tin, Accelerators are meant to ‘accelerate’ the success pathway for start-ups, typically leveraging the experience of industry experts to unlock strategic and operational challenges, prevent common mistakes and help them grow. Whilst for some Founders, their start-up idea isn’t their first rodeo, or they have industry experience or have studied extensively, others don’t always have the privilege of these experiences…but they do have their great ideas! By participating in an Accelerator, knowledge and experience gaps are, (or should be), closed, but maybe not entirely, as experience or ‘on job’ learning - is the best teacher.
I’ve contributed to many Accelerators including Foundervine’s Start-up 54 programme which aims to equip diverse founders with the skills, know-how and confidence to move their start-up ideas, from ideation into operation, in just 54 hours. I would hope and expect that a Founder leaves every Accelerator better equipped! There can be a wealth of workshops and sessions delivered to address most Founders burning questions or as mentioned before, knowledge gaps.
Just before Coronavirus hit the UK, I delivered an ideation workshop at the University of Hertfordshire to a room of expectant and enthusiastic future founders. The ‘ideation’ session, which is a fancy term for ‘the formation of ideas’, was centred on how to come up with viable business ideas and key considerations. We’ve seen some of the best ideas turn into successful business e.g. Uber, Deliveroo, Airbnb.
Most Accelerators are super competitive to get onto, especially if the course has an affiliation with investors or a reputable platform. It kind of goes without saying, but to be explicit, I wouldn’t wait until the Accelerator to think deeply about your business and if you’re a business that’s gained some traction, I would try to do some analysis of your performance and customer base beforehand too. Some of these questions, encourage you to get your head under the hood of your idea or business, and pin point where in the funnel you struggle the most. These things can then be explored with experts on the Accelerator.
COVID-19 & its impact on the delivery of Accelerator programmes
As we’re all experiencing, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by its neck and has impacted our lives, our economy, our health services, our communities, and our education system. Thank you to all the key workers on the front line! You name it, Corona has run riot in one way or another! Understandably, some Founders confidence has dwindled around launching their start-ups or how to keep them afloat during this uncertain time. You could argue that Investor confidence is also down in funding new ideas in a increasingly unstable economy or outside anything that doesn’t provide a solution to Corona (although there are investors who are still investing). I don’t wholeheartedly believe successful businesses can’t be birthed during this time, but either way, we have to hold onto hope that this won’t last forever, so don’t down tools — instead, pivot plans.
I would encourage Founders to use the additional time to work on things already had on the to-do list, but no judgement, at all, to those that need to use this time for some much needed respite. Whilst COVID-19 has changed the dynamics of many things, Accelerator programmes are still available now virtually, if you want to commit the time to hone, scale and grow your start-up keep an eye out for them.
Companies to follow for news on future virtual Accelerators:
· Tech Nation
· Founders Factory
In true COVID-19 fashion, stay safe!
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