One path for starting a business is to leverage a startup accelerator. These programs offer mentorship and education to new business owners while providing funding opportunities in exchange for equity. You may even find there are certain nuances and eligibility requirements to abide by during your search for the right startup accelerator.

If you’re an entrepreneur trying to determine the right accelerator to apply to, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council can help. Below, eight members discuss what to look for when choosing a startup accelerator for your business.

1. An Understanding Of Your Industry

When choosing a startup accelerator, you’ll want to make sure that they understand your business or your industry. You’ll depend on the accelerator not only for funding, but also for guidance and mentoring in the early stages. Finding one that has prior experience in your field, or at least a similar one, is a safe bet. They’ll be able to give you advice based on real-life experience. This will matter in terms of where your business is heading in the long run as it can greatly influence your decision-making process. – Benjamin Rojas, All in One SEO

2. A Holistic Approach

There are many high-profile accelerators that are equally difficult to get into. It is considered a point of pride to get inducted into such a top league alongside other successful ventures. However, they might not be the perfect one for you to apply to. The perfect accelerator for you is the one that helps accelerate your journey holistically. It doesn’t matter how many accolades they have. As long as they are credible and believe and align with your vision of success, they should be your preference. Look at their portfolio to see if they have helped businesses in direct or indirect connection with your venture or industry. Their past experience alongside their faith in you shall make them the perfect accelerator to apply to. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

3. A Focus On The Right Stage Of Development

The right accelerator should match the entrepreneur’s stage of development and sector focus. Some accelerators focus on helping startups with seed and early-stage financing, while others focus on a specific sector, like health tech or financial services. It’s important to choose an accelerator that will provide the resources and mentorship needed to help the startup grow. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

4. Matching Long-Term Goals

When partnering with a startup accelerator, the number one factor you should look at is your potential partner’s long-term goals. They may have a different vision than you anticipated when you reached out for help. If you don’t explain why you want their help and where you see your company in a few years, you’re leaving a lot to interpretation. You always want to be as straightforward as possible about what you want from a startup accelerator and always ask that the partner company affords you the same courtesy. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

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5. A Track Record Of Success

Choose an accelerator that has a track record of success working with businesses like yours—in the same industry, offering the same type of products or services and so on. If yours is a SaaS company and the accelerator has no history of working with other SaaS companies or can provide no evidence that they’ve worked with SaaS companies that have received funding, then it’s not the right accelerator for you. It’s also important to choose an accelerator that will give you access to experts who can truly help you. Find out who you’ll be working with and what their experience is. Reach out to people whose startups have been through the accelerator program in the past to learn about their experiences before, during and after working with the accelerator. – Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com

6. Specialization

There are a few key things entrepreneurs should look at when determining the right accelerator to apply to. However, the most important factor you should consider is the focus or specialty of the accelerator. That’s because the accelerator’s focus will determine what type of mentorship and resources you’ll have access to. For example, if you’re starting a food business, you’ll want to apply to an accelerator that specializes in food businesses. You’ll get insider tips and ideas that an accelerator outside this ecosystem won’t know. So, make sure that you work with a solid accelerator that is specialized in your area of interest. – Blair Williams, MemberPress

7. Educational Opportunities

The right accelerator will foster education and personal growth so that your business can grow to its fullest potential. Accelerator programs that do little to mentor you and kickstart your business are not programs that you want to be a part of. Education is an investment that will guide you throughout time to make the best entrepreneurial decisions. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

8. A Path For Growth

If you’re thinking about seeking out a startup accelerator, you should find out how the company will help you grow. It’s crucial to understand what a company is offering before making a deal. For example, if you’re interested in exposure, you wouldn’t want to partner with a company that wants to throw money at you in exchange for a portion of your profits. Instead, you would want to find a partner willing to let you publish content and promote your brand on their website. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

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