14 Jul 2015

21 tips for getting the most out of a startup accelerator programme

By Jessica

We’re in week three of our Summer accelerator programme, where we’re providing 12 weeks of intensive mentoring and support and investment to 10 startups that are using technology to tackle big social and environmental problems.

With just nine weeks left until demo day, we’ve compiled 21 tips to help any startup get the most out of an accelerator programme.

1. Come into the office. Even when we don’t have sessions on, teams get a huge amount of learning from chats with the rest of the cohort and lucky encounters with mentors.

2. Focus, focus, focus… Decide the top three things you want to get out of the experience, and make sure you review these each week. Use office hours to keep on top of this, set new goals, and make sure things aren’t slipping.

3. Build the smallest thing you can. Get out of the building and talk to as many people as possible. Find a market for your product before you write a line of code.

4. Make the most out of our network. Remember, good networking is about giving, not taking. Offer to help others. Believe in serendipity. Be brave and make calls.

5. Ask for introductions. Referrals are your best form of marketing.

6. Start looking at funding applications from day one, so you know what information you need to start putting together.

7. Aggregate advice and make your own decisions. Lots and lots of people (even the local shopkeeper, the friend of a friend of a friend and your great grand uncle) will have advice and opinions on what you are doing and the best way to go about it.

8. Listen to BGV, they might not always make sense, but they see a bigger, different picture.

9. Read the Lean Startup ASAP. The idea of an MVP being something that quickly tests your value proposition hypothesis is something every startup should have drummed into them as much, and as early, as possible.

10. Spend time with users. Be open, listen. Confident in you goal but not arrogant.

11. Don’t be distracted by the small stuff. (We wasted ages on names.)

12. Find something that works. Then make sure you ship it, fast. You don’t have a scaling problem yet. Validate what you think you’ve learned. You’ll know if you’ve found a fit.

13. Have a CRM for your sales pipeline. Selling is about relationships so put names on it. Experiment with pricing. Create excitement and scarcity. Hustle! This is horrible and hard but vital. Most professionals massively underestimate how many phone calls are required to get a deal done (it’s about 30).

14. Secrecy is your enemy.

15. Dream big, but act small.

16. Plan to do what it takes to make your first sale by the time you leave.

17. Burn rate is the enemy. Work out how to reduce it. But invest in tools to save time.

18. Watch out for charlatans.

19. Divide and conquer: as much as you might need to work on business development, you need to find where your next lot of money is coming from. You will need to spend an average of once a week searching for current opening of applications and filing silly forms and building that up to be sent for requests for funding/investment etc. At least one team member should dedicate him/herself to do so.

20. People should really try their best to sort out bank issues and HMRC paperworks before they even get in the door if possible….makes life so much easier.