‘Congratulations! You’re in.’ Great! Now what?
Moments of sheer exhilaration, preparation, packing, rush, mails, calls, documents…
‘Goodbye, mom, dad!’ ‘Goodbye house, see you in three months!’
Three months in the life of a startup can be either a long or a short period of time, depending on how you plan&execute them.
There are thousands of active accelerators in Europe, some of which corporation-backed and some more NGO alike, and no two are organized alike. Even within our SBC family, we’ve find out, programs run differently. And believe me, no one is going to take you by the hand and introduce you to the modus operandi of an accelerator’s fast track unless you care.
You can guess what it’s like, but you will never know before it happens.
If you want to avoid the cul-de-sac of going with the flow and really make the most of your accelerator, here are a couple of things to consider:
After the ‘YES’ and Before the ‘START’
Once you have been selected for an accelerator, make sure you are well-prepared before you hop onto the next flight to wonderland.
Explore the mentor network and find your HERO
If you haven’t checked all the mentors of your program yet, now is the time to do it. Pick one to lead your progress and a few more relevant to your industry to advise you along the way. Why? If I may be so direct, there is an old proverb that goes: ‘A lot of grandmothers – a feebly baby’.
Jot down your Acceleration Needs
Be honest with yourself and scrutinize your business necessities. Do you need a new team member, a particular introduction, a crowdfunding campaign, supply chain integration, improved prototype, laboratory, testing facilities? Wrap these up and send them our way.
Vital Introductions you want the Program to Facilitate
Look for other entrepreneurs in the area who are not affiliated with the accelerator but are important for your startup. Also, think of the companies you would like to partner with. We might not be working with them yet but will find a way to get you a meeting.
Do make sure you have a place to stay, or ask the program team to help you with the matter. Be proactive and talk to the legal adviser about things such as registration, bank accounts, money transfers, transportation and the like.
During the Program
Boy, is it going to be busy.
Somewhere among the jam-packed program schedule, the homework and the opportunities to seize, it will be so easy to get lost. Therefore it’s essential to keep sight of the big picture.
Stay Focused, Body&Soul
Bear in mind that 3 months is a tight deadline to accelerate your startup, so don’t take it chill. This is not ‘The Voice’ , it’s a bootcamp, thus less glory, more hard work.
I’d suggest you don’t just disregard the activities and workshops organized during the program that you consider irrelevant to your startup. You are there to challenge your assumptions, after all, and these include everything from market to program structure.
On the other hand, if you need to take a day off to process all the feedback, do so.
Set Goals and Document your Progress
What do you want to achieve during these 3 months? There is, however, a huge leap between knowing what you want and actually getting it done. Therefore, it’s a stimulating and efficient practice to make a feasible plan and report on the goals’ progress, weekly.
Set up a Collaborative Environment
BaseCamp, GitHub, Podio, Trello, Slack, Drive, you name it. It will make your life light-years easier. It will support your team communication, document exchange and storage, as well as reporting on your progress. It will sync all your activities.
File Feedback and Use it
The curious mentors are already peeking at the door, ready to bombard you with advice. The latter can at times be conflicting and you will want to take some time to understand its applicability.
Put all feedback together and talk it over with your team. Once it’s digested, integrate it in the plan.
Find, Face and Acknowledge your Competition
This will only do you good. Just picture an ostrich burying his head in the sand and what that actually means. Failure to consider your competition might result in being outperformed by it. Or worse, making a fool of yourself in front of an investor.
You need to find a way to gain a competitive advantage over competitors. To do so, you first find them, study them, and figure what you can do better to pull ahead. Besides that, competitors can give you great ideas about your plan.
Balance Demo Day and Traction
I believe I need not tell you you’ll undergo extensive pitch and stage training. Demo Day is your moment to shine, indeed, but working on your goals is more important for two reasons: 1 you’ll have impressive numbers for your DD pitch, and 2 you’ll, provided you’ve pivoted, have made the most out of your accelerator time.
It’s that awkward moment when I want to tag your startup in a tweet and I can’t find it. Wait! You don’t have an account. No updated website, no linkedin profile? How am I ever going to make you known to our audience.
Now seriously, you’re already in the spotlight and people want to check you up, know more and engage with you. It’s damaging for your brand if you don’t have a digital ‘face’ since online is where everyone will look you up first.
This starts to get long, so just to name a few more points: Talk to alumni for advice, Be ready to give me your story, Take care of legal matters, incorporation and registration, Sport.
After Demo Day
Stay in Touch!
Update, call, keep the program team in the loop of what’s going on with you. We’ve pledged to help you grow after the 3 months and we will do so, word.
An accelerator is a serious bussiness for you, your team, your own little startup, and us – the program team.
Making sure you get the most of your acceleration time will sure make you leave the stage humming this refrain : Non, je ne regrette rien.