7 ideas for accelerators including cancelling demo day

What do startup accelerators need to accelerate?

We’ve become jaded by some of the cut and paste programs, and I wanted to flush that out in my essay, Do we still need startup accelerators? The generated threads included valuable insights that I encourage you to read on Twitter and LinkedIn.

What does an accelerator today need to deliver?

Here’s what I have heard and what I think we need to build from my experiences.

What is the intention of an accelerator?

Let’s be clear on what founders need to get done.

  • #1 — The focus needs to be on company building and not demo day readiness. Cancel demo day. That frees up a lot of time and refocuses the teams back on building their companies and themselves.
  • #2 — Show proof. As much as possible. Blow people away with the ‘proof per week’ ratio. As investors, customers and partners work with the company, show proof that this company can do it.
  • #3 — Peter Thiel said, “A startup broken at foundation can’t be fixed.” The opposite is also true. A company that starts well grows well. So how do we ‘start well’?
  • #4 — Lay down the runway. Deliver a momentum that continues with funding when the program has ended.

What kind of people need to be involved?

  • #5 — Lead the journey with a founder that has empathy for the job that the teams need to do. Someone confident to drop curriculum to go down a needed pathway right now. Someone with a point of view.
  • #6 — But don’t forget the teacher. Founders can be inconsistent, and pairing them with a teacher can strengthen the insights and cadence of the program. Like great restaurants need a mad creative chef AND a general manager, I think accelerators need this pairing.
  • #7 — No tourists, only citizens. There needs to be motivation for authentic mentorship beyond ‘giving back’ or ‘learning about startups’. We need real customers, investors, and founders from relevant companies telling their stories and giving their feedback.

In summary, bring in the right people, have a design to vest them in the process over time and do what is needed to build real companies.

Next, I will share some thoughts on design ideas. Watch this space!

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Phil Morle

Phil Morle

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.