What participating in the URBAN-X accelerator looks like

Tristan Bel
URBAN-X
Published in
4 min readJun 6, 2023

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In the past, we’ve covered some of the characteristics of the URBAN-X accelerator, and what you get from your participation in the URBAN-X accelerator program. This article walks you through the program from the perspective of a founder. What are the activities they participate in? How do they work with the Experts in Residence (EIRs)? What are the weekly meetings with the partners like? What do they walk away with?

Onboarding

The first step of the accelerator program is perhaps also the most important: 4 months is a short time even in the life of a startup and we want to start in the strongest possible way.

The first onboarding meeting is with the entire URBAN-X team, where everybody introduces themselves. We ask you to pitch to the group and we give you some feedback. We also go over some of the logistics and modalities of the program.

Right after that we have longer EIR onboardings for:

  1. Business Development / Fundraising
  2. Product / Software (if you have a software piece)
  3. Product / Hardware (if you have a hardware piece)

The goals of these meetings are to understand your company in more detail, plan the work we’ll do together with the EIRs, and identify potential gaps in your roadmap to product-market fit. We use structured sets of questions to cover as much as possible before we zoom in to what is going to make the biggest difference within the time frame of the accelerator.

Weeklies

The 30 min weekly meetings start the week following the onboarding, with your mentor for the duration of the program (either the Managing Director or the Program Director). The CEO participation is required, and other team members can participate too.

During the first of these meetings, we define a set of Objectives and Key Results. The Objectives are clearly defined goals, critical to the success of the company, and the Key Results are measurable indicators that we’re making progress toward the Objectives. This is not a project management tool, nor a once and done report. We go back to it throughout the program and adjust as necessary.

Before every weekly meeting, we ask the founders to provide updates in a simple shorthand format, structured like quarterly investor updates. During the meeting, we review the progress, celebrate wins, troubleshoot roadblocks, and prioritize the work. Most of the introductions to the people in the URBAN-X network are identified then. If a topic requires more support of discussion, we set up a separate meeting.

It’s often the case that the startups organize their teamwork around the weeklies and carry the format forward just among themselves once the accelerator is over.

EIR Sprints

The EIR onboarding meetings lead to the definition of sprints or short projects to advance the product, brand, or overall business. These draw from the EIRs’ experience working with 100+ startups in urbantech and are also custom to the particular needs of the startups at that point in time.

The projects progress on their tracks, synchronized during the weeklies, and also internally within the URBAN-X team, so that every aspect of the work stays coherent. These are not to be confused with hiring an agency: we don’t build for you, but alongside you. If you stay engaged through the entire process — instead of receiving the deliverables like a client — then you learn as you do it with us and you’re able to carry the work forward. Things will keep changing and if you don’t know what’s under the hood, you won’t be able to adjust.

It’s a common mistake that founders make, especially when they have a bit of cash in the bank: they outsource what needs to be done. Either what needs to be done is at the core of your business, and then you should be able to do it; or it’s not, in which case you shouldn’t spend any time on it.

Sessions and Workshops

A few times per cohort we have a session or workshop all together: Ask Me Anything session with a founder who’s doing well after their series A, so they can share what they’ve learned and they remember it well; Intellectual Property Workshop; Leadership workshop.

Accelerators used to be structured around those types of sessions — 1 or 2 a week for 3 months. We’ve abandoned that for a model since the information is accessible through our library and most of the engagement is tailored to your company. Every so often, we vet experts on a topic offering their knowledge and time, and so make that available to the founders.

Social Events

We experience again and again the power of the network, and spending some time together is fun, and so we have social events. Nothing to produce, just designed to connect. Internally, we have events so that the startup teams can get to know each other. We also organize events for the public to promote important urbantech and climatech topics as well as the companies in our portfolio. And then we have events with partners that we sponsor, co-design, or simply connect to for founders to participate in or speak on panels.

In Summary

No two participations in an URBAN-X accelerator are the same, since so much of it is catered to you. It’s entirely aligned with helping you reach your goals. Around the beat of the weekly meetings, you can involve us as much as you like, and the most successful founders do just that. You can read more about the URBAN-X experience from portfolio company founders Rema Matevosyan, Chantal Emmanuel, and Shabazz Stuart.

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