02 Oct 2015

How to make your startup standout: Tips for writing a hot accelerator application

By Anna Hyde

So you’ve opened up the Bethnal Green Ventures W16 application form on F6S, maybe you’ve filled in a few formalities – name, phone number, maybe you’ve even crafted a few skeleton answers.  For that, you deserve a pat on the back, as the application process is always painful.  We genuinely want to make it less painful, so we’ve put down a few key tips and hints for nailing your application and making your startup standout.

Focus on the problem

We don’t expect your application to contain a expert theory of change which maps out the social impact of your idea.  In fact, we don’t expect you to even know what the terms “social impact” or “theory of change” mean.  Instead, we want you to tell us about the problem.  Why is it a problem? Who does it affect?  Please don’t just list stats and data – put the data into context, really show us that this is a problem that affects large numbers of people and that you understand that problem.

Stock questions do not mean stock answers

We ask certain questions in our application which might seem really boring.  But a lot of thought has gone into our questions – this isn’t just a standard form.  When we ask you about how your team works, we want to know about the nuts and bolts.  We want to know the simple things – how you communicate with one another, how do you make decisions – do you love high energy brainstorming sessions with a whirlwind of post-its and mind maps, do you have gantt charts blu-tacked to your walls, do you use headphones as a do not disturb sign?  Paint us a picture – you’ll be sharing our co-working space after all!

What makes you special?

Don’t just sell us your idea, sell us your team.  Ideas change, teams pivot, it happens all the time. If we’re going to take you onto our programme, we’re buying into you as much as your idea.  So you need to tell us about what makes you the greatest team for solving the problem you’re trying to solve. Do you have first-hand experience of the problem, have you got years of industry experience, do you know your target customer inside out?

How can we help you?

The beauty of the accelerator programme is that it’s all about you…well you and the other teams on cohorts past and present. It’s not about us.  This isn’t an application form for a job – where we’re trying to suss out what you can do for us, and how productive you’re going to be as an employee.  We want to know that we can support you and that we can help you become a successful business.  We are expecting you to join our programme and make the most of the networks we can introduce you to, be committed to each of the workshops that we provide and dive straight into our community of like-minded teams.  So find out about us, our teams, our networks and show us that you know that this is the right programme for you.

Finally – don’t forget to submit the form well in advance of the 19th October deadline! There’s nothing quite like that sickening feeling you get when a system crashes or the power is cut right before a deadline. Steer clear of last minute problems by submitting your application in plenty of time.

photo credit: Suresh Eswaran CC BY-NC-ND 2.0