Pravin Khandelwal, Director (Leadership & Motivation), Risers Accelerator
Startup accelerators are becoming the need of hour for startup success
A startup is called so not only because it’s newly launched but for the reason that it is founders’ new found ambitions to bring a revolutionary change in the traditional market. The product line might not be new but the strategy should be revolutionary to transform a preliminary business concept into a market success. But, defining the latter is a tough nut to crack than setting up a business, given the fact that good products or services alone could not make a startup successful.
The success of a startup is certain if it is built on the pillars of unique concepts, customer-centricity, backed by adequate funding, and disruptive marketing strategies. It can be achieved only if the startups are run by rationally-thinking entrepreneurs. It is okay for a 20-year old aspiring entrepreneur not to have a good experience or understanding of running a successful business, but that shall not prevent him from executing a revolutionary business idea. Similarly, the lack of finances must not act as a hurdle in a businessman’s race to grow his venture geographically. Thanks to the accelerators and incubators, startups do not have to bear more of such troubles as these provide them with 360-degree assistance.
Startup accelerators to the aid of startups
Startup accelerators programs or organisations help the early-stage startups that have great potential to take the respective market by storm to develop a result-driven approach towards business growth utilising their years of expertise, experience, and funding. They help the novice entrepreneurs in resolving startup related issues such as identifying the target audience, promoting a product line, managing the organisational structure, and expanding the customer portfolio through mentorship, trainings, seed-funding and other required resources. All in all, startup accelerators give the potential startups a little push that they need in order to form an individual identity in the highly-competitive world. The support to a startup usually spans from six months to three years depending on the needs, and in return, they ask only for equity.
Choosing accelerator of a skin that suits you
The startup accelerators come in different skins and follow different formats to offer support. Some only offer to fund, some provide leadership and mentorship training, while others give networking support or some may even offer workspace. The startup founders should then be very selective when it comes to seeking help from the accelerators or incubators. For this, they must invest time in identifying the real roadblocks in their entrepreneurial journey; is it the expertise in the domain that an individual lacks or the necessary skills?
Most of the startups tend to choose accelerator only to gain financial help for business expansion, team-building, amongst others. In reality, however, accelerators should be chosen for professional guidance, learning, and networking opportunities. Learning is the fuel of a startup—learning of founders and employees is a must and shall never stop. The new businesses should be provided with an encouraging environment at accelerator programs so that they can take a cue from the industry veterans and learn from them on how to grow theirs. Frequent seminars, workshops, mentorships, and conferences on a wide range of topics such as legal, financial, and employee management and retention can empower entrepreneurs to get startups off the ground.
Those acceleration programs should be opted that create ample networking opportunities for novice entrepreneurs to form professional connections with the business magnates, potential investors, industry peers as well as support providers. During an early phase, far-flung professional network is invaluable to a new entrant into the market. As no other marketing tactic is as powerful as that of referral marketing, the new entrepreneurs can figure the way out to ensure early success. Also, after spending some fruitful brainstorming sessions, they can learn from each other how to make an ordinary startup into an iconic business in an intense, high-pressure environment.
Though not always mandatory, accelerators sometimes become a must to launch a startup that makes a splash right from the beginning. To pick one out from many, entrepreneurs should prioritise value more than the money that accelerators offer. How much funding an accelerator provides and how much equity it asks for should not be a norm to apply at one. It’s not important that zero equity programs always promise you a success or one with 2% equity will not. In fact, all the accelerators should be compared in terms of availability, expertise, assistance, and to what extent do they align with a startup’s long-term goal. After all, a startup should strive for more sustainability than immediate success.