A young startup with its hustle and bustle might need that extra push to achieve its goals at the right time. To accelerate this journey, many startups choose to be a part of a startup accelerator program to build a reliable business model with the right market entry strategy and better funding opportunities backed with mentorship and learning.

This article will discuss what a startup accelerator is, how it helps scale up a startup, and the requirements to get selected for the accelerator program.

What is a Startup Accelerator?

Startup accelerators are organisations that provide startups with growth programs that help achieve a few years of experience in the span of a few months. These programs act as a catalyst for a startup to become market-ready and help pace key milestones effectively.

Highlights of a Startup Accelerator program:

Networking Opportunities

Participant startups get access to a global network that helps engage with mentors, founders who have built successful startups and access to the alumni network. Each accelerator program has cohorts where a young startup gets an opportunity to collaborate with other early-stage startups on multiple aspects such as innovation, mentorship, knowledge transfer and much more.

Training & Workshops

Apart from the formal mentorship program, the accepted startups undergo workshops and one-to-one sessions with mentors, industry experts, founders, investors who help them navigate through the growth phase and hit critical milestones before funding. These young startups will have multiple mentorship sessions, seminars by companies and demo day pitch practices.

Work towards the big picture

Setting goals in sync with the big picture might feel challenging for a first-time founder. The founder might plan the first few months or a year, but planning beyond that might need direction and advice. Startups must work towards a long-term outcome.

As a founder, you might know where you want to reach, but you might not know how to get there. That’s where mentors come into the picture. They help you navigate through complexity and steer you in the right direction. They assist you with the right tools and tactics to reach your long-term plans.

Support Services

Accelerators understand the importance of having private work time. Hence they offer the participating startups co-working spaces that help them independently discuss and work apart from the day to day accelerator activities. Some accelerators also provide the young startups CXO, legal and accounting services.

Demo Day – Seed Funding Rounds

After months of learning and getting mentored, the program ends with Demo Day or pitch day. The participant startups after completion of the acceleration program are called graduates. On the demo day, these graduates pitch their startups to potential investors, public funds and VC’s to raise seed funds.

But what’s in it for a startup accelerator? Accelerator programs help participant startups seek better seed funding opportunities with the help of their extensive network and market reach.
Participant startups swap these funding opportunities with a percentage of their equity.

Government-led Accelerators help you raise Seed funds via Startup India Seed Fund Scheme, launched in January 2021 to help provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market-entry, and commercialisation. (source: startupindia.gov.in)

What do Accelerators look for in Startups?

Accelerator programs look for young startups with a small team, a working business plan, few early investors and growth potential. Eligibility criteria of accelerator programs differ from one another based on their focus domains like HealthTech, AgriTech, CleanTech and more.

But some of the core requirements remain the same for almost all accelerators, and they are as follows:

A Strong Founding Team
A Functioning Business Plan
Minimum Viable Product
Entrepreneurial spirit

Application Process – How to enter a Startup Accelerator Program?

Every accelerator has a unique screening process. A lot of research and review goes into the startup accelerator application process. We will stick to how most accelerators conduct their rounds and break it down for you:

Step 1: Apply
The first step is to fill the application for the program. The application needs to provide details of your startup and team, precise knowledge of your domain, and motivation to join the accelerator. If your responses are relevant, you will make it to the next round.

Step 2: Interview/Presentation
The applicants will need to attend an interview or do a presentation. Some highly competitive accelerator programs have only 10 to 15 minutes of interview rounds because of the high number of applicants.

Based on the performance in this round, the startups will qualify for being a part of the cohort. Preparation is key, and one can prepare with the help of mock interviews.

Step 3: Cohort
Qualifying startups will be accepted for the accelerator program. Joining an Accelerator Program can prove path-breaking for your startup. It provides comprehensive support from the start of the program, assisting you towards building the right market entry strategy and a reliable business model or supporting you in raising funds while teaching you effective management styles and risk handling.

We hope this article has helped you understand what a startup accelerator is and how it benefits a startup once accepted into the program.

Are you an innovator searching for the right accelerator to grow your startup to a global market? The GAIN, A Global Accelerator, provides you with a platform to scale up your startup. To know more, click here.