How to Choose the Right Accelerator Program?
Before We Begin
It’s very important to remember that you should never settle. Just because a program offers a free co-working space, for example, does not mean that it’s the best option! View the program’s compatibility with your start-up holistically, and consider the following as a few of the key factors in this consequential decision.
1. Accelerator’s Purpose
As we just mentioned, the compatibility of an accelerator with your start-up is crucial in selecting an effective program for you. To that end, pinpoint your company’s goals in the coming months, as well as the stage you are currently in. Then, look at which goals and stages different accelerators cater to and specialize in based on their past companies, and how successful those companies became (measured by whichever metric is most relevant to you). Do your best to align your interests and vertical(s) with theirs.
2. Time Cost
Every accelerator will, at one point or another, require you to sit down with Mr. and Mrs. Big Shot and discuss X, Y, and Z. Of course, this is not issue when you want the same. In considering the time cost, it is important to match how much time the program requires and how much time are you willing and wanting to give?
If you don’t find a program that fits your desires, you risk allocating your scarce and valuable human resources to events and meetings that only hold you back. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Time is money.” So don’t waste it.
All accelerators offer mentors as one of their services, and a portion of the “Time Cost” in a program is consumed by this mentor. Thus, they are an integral part of a start-up’s experience in an accelerator.
The largest consideration in determining a mentor’s worth is how much value that mentor is able to add to your company specifically. In other words, what experience do they have in your industry, and how well have they done with companies like your’s? View your mentor as the corner pieces in a very difficult puzzle. It is certainly possible to succeed without them, but placing the corner pieces first and correctly accelerates the process.
Let’s face it, some accelerators have a better reputation than others. But how much does this really say about their program? While it certainly doesn’t paint the whole picture, an accelerator’s reputation can have a lasting impact on your company in two prominent ways:
After completing an accelerator program, you are likely to seek funding in future investment rounds. Graduation from a reputable program is proof that a trustworthy business group has already screened and tested you.
Reputation indicates how many connections you may or may not gain from joining that program. While connections should not be a primary motivator in the selection process, they are a valuable by-product.
Reputation does not define an accelerator, but it carries implications that can have a long-term impact on your venture.
5. Track Record
History is the best proof, and the same (generally) applies to start-ups after graduating from their programs. Take a look at an accelerator’s past and present portfolio companies and consider their current status — acquired, operating, or shut down.
Analyze their path to that present-day status starting at the beginning of the program. This can be an easy and accurate way to judge an accelerator’s success, and the potential future success of your venture in that environment.
6. Financial Cost
Although most accelerator programs won’t ask for any sort of financial compensation for their services, some do. It is important to recognize whether your prospective accelerator will ask for:
Required use of certain products and technology.
Required collaboration with specific clients.
If they do request any of the above, ask yourself whether or not it is a condition your company is okay working under. If not, cross that accelerator off your list.
When choosing an accelerator, aligning the program’s wants and needs with your own will partially determine how much your company benefits from the batch duration. Within that context, choose a program that minimizes time unnecessarily spent while maximizing mentoring, reputation, and your future path. And remember: an accelerator is not meant to save a sinking boat. It’s meant to quickly upgrade a healthy boat into a formidable ship.
As a early-stage Venture Capital firm, Samurai Incubate Israel is dedicated to taking ventures from the very basic stages to greater heights and later connecting them to the Japanese market via our hands-on approach with every start-up we meet. With our large community in Israel and our strong connection to the ecosystem and corporate world in both countries, our team is constantly looking to create and strengthen the bridge between Japan and Israel by combining Japan’s industry with Israel’s cutting-edge technology and innovative spirit.