Want to get your startup into an accelerator? AirBnB, Dropbox, Reddit, Stripe. For all of these companies one of the first steps to greatness was getting accepted into an accelerator. But, getting accepted isn’t easy and the competition gets more intense every year.
Here are seven things that you can do to enhance your chance of being accepted.
Find The Right Accelerator Program
Your first step should be determine which accelerator is right for you. Angel List maintains a comprehensive directory of all of the various accelerator programs that are available. Research which start-ups they have accepted in the past, and whether your own start-up seems like a good fit for that particular accelerator.
Network With Previous Startups
Try to find previous attendees of the accelerator program. A personal recommendation from someone who has already completed the accelerator can go a long way. They can also provide you with specific advice that can help you to tailor your application and the answers that you provide.
Keep It Brief
When answering questions, either in your written application or during the panel stage, brevity it key. A long winded answer suggests that you are not clear about your product, direction or what you offer the market. Concision on the other hand shows that you have a clarity on your direction. You can always expand on answer if more information is requested.
Don’t Give Away All Your Equity
If you have diluted your equity prior to the accelerator program there is a good chance that you won’t be accepted. Accelerators know that in order for your company to grow you are going to need further funding rounds later on. If you have little ownership left in the company then this is not going to be possible.
Focus On The Benefits Not The Technology
If you are technical founder it can get easy to be hung up on the technology that underlies your start-up. However, the technology itself is rarely the most attractive element of a start-up to an accelerator. Instead you need to focus on the need in the market that your start-up fills. What is it about your start-up that is unique and who does it serve?
Produce A MVP
Produce a minimal viable product (MVP) to demonstrate that you already have some traction in the market. This could be as simple a prototype of the product, or it could be the fact that you already have hundreds or thousands of sales. Start-ups will frequently change concept during the accelerator., but it can help to show that you are capable of producing more than just an idea.
Select The Right Spokesperson
It can be natural to think that the founder should be the person that appears before the panel. This may not be the right choice. Instead you should select the person in your start-up who can clearly express the vision for your business in a way that is compelling. They should also be able to field answers quickly and sufficiently.. How do you determine this? Have each person pitch the company to the other team member., then select the most engaging speaker.
Finally, remember just because you are rejected that you apply, it doesn’t mean that you should give up. Take the lessons and feedback that you get from your rejection, and work on iterating and refining your current concept.