What is a startup accelerator program?
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.
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.
4 advantages of joining an accelerator program…
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. Here are some key considerations:
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.
2. Industry Knowledge
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.
3. Access to Investors
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.
The Katapult Model
At the start of our programs, the selected companies will receive an investment between $150,000-$400,000 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.
At the end of our program, three intensive months culminate 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 workshops may end after the 3-month program, we will continue to support and guide you for as long as your company continues to grow into the future.
A word from one of our portfolio company’s on Katapult’s Accelerator Program:
“The Katapult Accelerator is an intense experience, but useful on many levels. Myself and my co-funders have been guided and confronted by top-class mentors from various disciplines, from branding to fundraising. Taking a holistic view of company development, the accelerator has given us the head space and the frameworks within which to strategise – it has challenged our thinking and increased our ambition and confidence.”
– Vijay Bhopal, CEO Inclusive Energy