Growing a startup is no easy task. Accelerators are short-term intensive programs for companies in their early stages that are trying to drive growth as quickly as possible. These programs are fast-paced, intensive and hands-on. They provide strategic support to advance the scaling of innovative companies. If you’ve been considering applying to an accelerator, we’ve mapped out what you can expect from one.
Roll Up Your Sleeves
Startup accelerator programs are cropping up all the time and are available to a broader scope of entrepreneurs than ever before. They aren’t only based out of Silicon Valley or solely focused on tech companies either. There are many industry-focused programs rooted in other areas such as fashion, food and more socially conscious projects as well. When it comes to accelerators, one size does not fit all.
While most accelerator programs provide concrete rewards such as funding, mentorship and access to potential investors, they’re not always the recipe for instant success. In order to have a positive and productive experience, you have to set realistic, targeted goals and have a clear picture of what kind of outcome you want to achieve from the program.
From Cash to Counsel
For most startups, the opportunity to gain capital as a means to polish their concept or get their company operational is the main appeal when scoping out accelerator programs. Companies can anticipate securing some funding to get started or gain traction, but the amount of funding differs, as does the amount of equity the accelerator gets in return.
While the financial investment is definitely a boost, the real advantage for startups is the exposure to specific industry knowledge, leading experts and potential investors, that the accelerators provide during the program. A benchmark benefit is having access to a valuable network of mentors who are at the cutting edge of their field, who can offer their industry expertise and advice in a condensed amount of time.
A “Fund” — amental Understanding
Access to investors is probably the biggest advantage highlighted when joining an accelerator program. Experiencing the fundraising process and gaining insight into how money is actually raised to grow a business, is paramount for a founder to succeed. The chance to meet with investors — often hundreds of them — at an accelerator Demo Day is a tremendous advantage to a startup. At the same time, the focus on raising capital shouldn’t cloud the focus of developing a sound product or service. Ultimately, your startup’s goals should always be at the heart of what you hope to achieve, and your team’s commitment to bringing something new to the table is what will attract investors.
Whilst you will have access to many investors during the accelerator program, you will also be gaining access to mentors and industry experts who will be able to provide advice from the perspective of larger and well-established companies, with proven business methods and vast resources. This can also lead to a golden opportunity to build business alliances with major companies right from the get-go.
Equally valuable are the many professional relationships you can grow through working and collaborating with fellow peers within the accelerator program. These programs most often will include several startup teams and are great places to network with budding entrepreneurs and like-minded professionals. Building relationships with fellow peers is a chance to share and grow ideas, gain feedback, learn something new and can lead to any number of unexpected opportunities down the road.
So — What is the Katapult way of accelerating?
At the start of our program, the selected companies will receive a $150,000 USD from our fund — and as significant as that investment is in the early stages of a company, the additional support is what we truly believe, sets us apart.
The selected companies will work very closely with our core team who are dedicated to supporting you throughout the 3-month program. The goal of our program is simple — to help impact-driven founders scale their companies — and the way we will achieve that is through a program that will be evolving daily, yet always tailored according to your company’s individual needs and goals. Throughout the program, you will be guided not only on how to best take advantage of our large community of founders, investors and corporate partners; but to also develop a more disciplined, productive and professional approach to every aspect of your company.
In addition to the individual support each company will receive, all founders are expected to meet for a weekly “Founders Spotlight” throughout the program. The participating founders will discuss experiences and learnings, share insights and the progress they have made in the previous week. Founders will also be expected to set KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for their companies to ensure they are regularly setting and achieving their goals and will present their growth through a weekly feedback session.
As part of our focus on the “body & brain element” of entrepreneurship, founders and teams will also be scheduled to complete weekly workout sessions, as a means to promote and cultivate mindfulness, focus, and a reflective attitude throughout the program.
At the end of our program, three intensive months culminates with our Demo Day — where the founders present themselves and their companies to an even wider audience of investors, potential partners, and the broader community. Demo Day is akin to a “graduation” day where you have the opportunity to demonstrate what you have achieved during the program and showcase where your company is headed in the future. This is an exciting and inspirational conclusion to the accelerator program with the aim of getting your company exposure in the community and into the hands of the right investors! And while the weekly meetings and lunches may end after the 3-month program, we will continue to support and guide for as long as your company continues to grow into the future.
Words from Alumni
“Katapult played a transformational role in Esusu’s startup journey. The combination of fast-paced learning, intensive goal setting, and the exceptional people we were surrounded by empowered us to accelerate our growth and prepare the company for scale,” says Samir Goel, co-Founder of Esusu, a fintech startup that was part of the accelerator ́s last cohort, aimed at changing the way consumers save money, transforming the credit scoring system, while offering a one-stop digital financial solution to the underserved immigrant, low-income and minority communities.”