Earlier this week Nicky Larkin ran through the most common ways you can borrow money to fund a new or growing business. Another option can be an accelerator programme. Sage Business Expert Octavia Goredema gives her tips on what to look out for and how best to go about getting funding from one.
The “eureka!” moment, that instant you conceive the idea for your business, feels incredible. For many this becomes a life changing experience. However, the euphoria of identifying a breathtaking business opportunity is quickly eclipsed by the question of “how will I fund it?”
If you are daunted by the prospect of funding a start-up, one of the options is an accelerator. Accelerators are predominately geared toward tech start-ups. Offering access to mentors, work space and investors an accelerator can kick start your business idea or propel your venture to the next level. There are a number of accelerators worth exploring.
Here in the UK, organisations such as Seedcamp, Ignite100 and Oxygen provide the opportunity to build networks and pitch to potential investors. In addition, global accelerators such as US based MassChallenge attract applicants from all over the world, providing invaluable opportunities to set the stage for international success.
Here are some tips for determining how to find the right option for you:
Laser focus on your goals
Ask yourself lots of questions. Does the accelerator’s programme and networks align with your niche? Do the funding parameters support your immediate goals and your exit strategy? Do a thorough analysis of your goals and make sure the programme you are targeting enables your vision.
Be honest and analytical
Accelerators are fiercely competitive and the application process can be rigorous. Be honest and objective in determining if you meet the criteria and if everyone on your team is onboard. Your time is the most valuable resource you possess. If the timeline for the application process and eventual participation doesn’t work for you and your business, walk away.
Scrutinise the outcomes
Research the progress of the accelerator’s alumni. If you can, talk to people who have taken part and ask if there’s anything they would do differently. First-hand accounts are invaluable but remember everyone’s experience is unique. There are no guarantees that your business will follow the trajectory, or hit the same obstacles, of others. The strategy you adopt for funding your business is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Do your due diligence.
Perfect your pitch
Making the cut will require making a presentation that stands out from the crowd. Assess the tools, content and resources you need to sell your idea, your company and your growth potential with impact. Once you have your pitch presentation ready it’s all about practice, practice, practice.
Continue to refine your plan
Even if your accelerator application is successful, you may not be offered funding or decide not to pursue a funding opportunity. Keep your options open and continue to pursue all opportunities until you achieve your target.