Your MVP is ready. And so is your team. Your business is starting out on its runway and you feel you are ready to apply for a startup accelerator.

Excellent. This means you are already a daring entrepreneur going for something you truly believe in. But, what do you need to do before you make the move and send off those applications?

What to consider before you join a startup accelerator

Apply for a Startup Accelerator

It comes down to one thing really. Make sure you have a clear set of aims. Which, in our opinion, should be the following – and in this order:

  1. Get some early stage funding
  2. Polish your business structure into the form you want
  3. Get help with growth tactics and make your business more attractive to investors
  4. Polish your MVP
  5. Get a round of larger funding
  6. Get out

And that’s it. No big secrets. Unlike the Hotel California you aim should be to check out AND leave.

Your startup accelerator is not your mother

We always loved welcoming new startups into our long-term acceleration program at Starttech — which has now become a full fledged Venture Building program. But we love to watch them leave more. Why? Well, it’s not rocket science, it means that we have helped them become successful and are ready to move on. There’s no better feeling.

Some people call accelerators “incubators”. And yes, the whole mother hen analogy is part of the concept. But the role of a startup accelerator is not to be your mother. More of a Yoda-type mentor.

You need help in speeding up the growth of your business with hybrid marketing approaches and get to the point where you can stand on your own two feet. This is our role. At Starttech we follow a differentiated model of a more long-term program (because it just works – very well), but the concept is the same.

As a Venture Builder we have the right systems in place to help you structure your company. You get guidance and support, and you work with a group of other like-minded individuals. People who are also trying to bring their business visions to life. Trust us, this is both empowering and inspiring in equal measure.

But, a startup accelerator — or the Venture Builder, for that matter — does not, and I repeat, does not do the work for you.

Milk your startup accelerator time

We encourage our startups to “use us and abuse us!” In the positive sense of course. And, we still do, as Venture Builders. It’s all about using your time wisely. I mean, when and where else are you going to be surrounded by a bunch of talented people who some people who know how to create a successful startup? Staff members are typically CEO’s, CTO’s and entrepreneurs who have taken your journey. They also usually have specialist staff who know what your need both for commercial and practical success.

But don’t just spend your time hanging around communal areas socializing. Have in your mind that you want to be here only for a short period of time. Stay focused on your goals, actively seek out the guidance and networking you have access to.

How do you know it’s time to leave?

Good question. Typically, when you get a new round of funding, it’s a big indicator that you are ready for the “next level”. It’s a landmark which says “Hey, the quality and sophistication is there guys, we’re ready to scale up.”

Obviously there are countless startups that never get to this point, so that’s why it’s a good sign that you are ready for the next stage. Cutting ties can be tough. Why? Well, the cheap office space for one! As well as relationships you may have built.

But at the end of the day if you outstay your “natural” welcome and stick around for more than a couple of years that raises questions. Especially from investors.

Plan your exit

So what’s the secret? Have an exit strategy – and timeframe for it – BEFORE you enroll at a startup accelerator — or Venture Builder, for that matter. This may sound a bit strange but it is essential. This way you will make sure you hit the KPIs you set for your business.

Define at what point you want to leave, either if that is revenue, number of customers or funding. And make sure the startup accelerator — or Venture Builder — knows about this intention [to leave].

The project timeline you make may not work out exactly as you want to , but it needs to exist. It will keep you moving at a good pace and push you to the “finish” line.

If you think you might be a candidate to join Starttech, get in touch with us today!

Graham Wood Graham Wood

The Starttech Ventures Storyteller. Studied Journalism with Business at the University of Central Lancashire. Has worked in various product marketing management positions for the likes of Nokia, Samsung and Vodafone, as well as in several journalism and media roles since 2000.