Accelerators have now become an integral part of the startup ecosystem. Entrepreneurs, first time founders in particular, are aware that by leveraging an accelerator network they can take a shortcut to the otherwise long drawn process of scaling up and can rapidly accelerate their business while simultaneously maintaining healthy business metrics.
But are you aware of the qualities that a startup should possess, so as to woo an accelerator? Here are some factors that are able to draw the interest of accelerators:
Not all startups have a working product and business model right from day one. Most of the time, product and business models keep changing as per the customers’ response, competition, and sustainability of the business. If you already have a product that is ‘market fit’ and is getting serious traction, you can immensely benefit from business acceleration. A half-baked product will surely be not able to allure accelerators since all they need is to do is to press a ‘Get-Set-Go’ button to your startup, which cannot happen unless the innovation you’ve done is developed completely. So, it works to fine tune your product before your rendezvous with any accelerator and be ready with the answers to the following questions:
Is your product solving a problem?
How easy is the product to use?
How feature rich is it?
How fast is it? …etc.
Large Market Size
If you’ve already met a VC or an accelerator then you would know that market size of the startup is one of the most critical aspects that can trigger their interest in you. The first question that’s shot at you as soon as you finish your presentation on your disruptive idea is – “How big is the market size?” And as soon as you share the numbers, the person on the other side of the table will quickly do his own math.
Yes, market size is important because there’s nothing worse than spending time and money in a startup only to discover that it can never grow more than a few million in revenues. They will only be interested in accelerating a startup that is worth the toil, sweat and of course, the hard earned money. Therefore your startup is ready to accelerate only when you’ve done the number crunching and find yourself fit for getting the market rolling.
An ‘All Star’ Team
A famous Entrepreneur has rightly said, “When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.” This is true in every sense because it is your team that’ll help you in building your idea into a product and help you realize your vision. An accelerator will look at your team and would want to know:
“Is this business scalable?”
“Does the team have the required expertise and passion to drive the business?”
“Will they be able to optimally execute against their opportunity?”
”Will they be able to hold on to our aggressive approach?” … and many more…
They are not only looking for effective people, but for ones who understand their language – “Do More, Faster”. They look for people who are passionate, enthusiastic, believe in their business idea and have the capabilities and skills required to help their ‘baby’ fly. If you have your ‘all-star’ team in place, you are surely going to get the attention of accelerators and later, the VCs.
Get the Revenue Model Right
A ready to accelerate startup should have proven their revenue model, i.e, ‘who’ will pay for their product and ‘how much’ they would be willing to pay? A startup can be judged with not just a good product or great market size or a brilliant team but rather, should have proved itself beyond the concept, generating consistent revenue/ traction. So any entrepreneur looking to accelerate their startup should always make the projections realistically.
In today’s digital age, technology can be a big differentiator for a business. What a traditional brick and mortar business can achieve in 10 years, technology can help you reach that milestone or even surpass it in a year or even less, if used effectively. It gives the company a definite edge in the market. So, if your disruptive idea is leveraging technology to bring you closer to the long term vision, chances are, you’ll find favour with accelerators.
If you have passed the test on the aforementioned points, the final step is for the accelerator to gauge if you are ready to roll up your sleeves and push the boundaries as well as take any feedback that comes your way to correct yourself and push yourself further?
Since most accelerator programs are for a limited period, stretching up to a maximum of a year, and aimed at the startup getting next rounds of funding, accelerators focus intensively on the business, and therefore, an equally aggressive approach is required from the entrepreneur and others in the team as well.
Just as a ‘million dollar idea’ is necessary for any entrepreneur, having certain qualities that demonstrate your startups’ potential is a prerequisite for any accelerator. Getting a suitable accelerator program for your startup at the right time is what can make your idea go places. So, make a scorecard and see where your startup fits in.
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