How to get the most out of an accelerator programme
Joining an accelerator is exciting for many individuals and for many startups - here are tips on how to get the most of the your time on them.
In 2018, GoRoadie joined the Elevator UK’s accelerator programme based in Dundee (Also available in Aberdeen). It was a 12 week programme where we had to attend sessions 3 times a week and do our own work, or recommended assignments in the other 2 days.
Starting in week 5, the dragons came in. These “agitators” were there to challenge us and to ask the hard questions.
And in weeks 4 and 8, we had presentations to give to ensure we were engaging in the programme and learning - if we we weren’t we may be asked to leave. Stress!!!!
When businesses join accelerators, not all of them complete the programme.
Since we were new to running our business we were determined to make the most of our 12 weeks and determined to learn as much as we can.
Still, we are cited by Elevator UK for really engaging with the programme and getting the most out of it. Here is how we did that.
When there are sessions, take part. Granted you may not be able to show up to all of them, but go to as much as you can. Some sessions, we questioned the value of but still we attended and got value from them. Eventually throughout the programme, you will learn what sessions are going to give the most value and you are able to best plan your week by showing up and trying to get the most out of the session.
Engage with advisers
Of course, the best way to get most of your time on the programme is to engage. Get to know the people running the accelerator. When guest speakers come in, research who they are so that you will have a better idea of their experience which means you will be able to ask questions which could give you better value of your time there. As for the dragons / agitators - engage with the people the most. We learned so much by being asked difficult questions and several of them, are still involved with us over 18 months later.
Put ego aside
Depending where you are joining from, you may be fresh out of university or you may have tons of previous experience. Now regardless, when in this programme - drop the ego. Switch to a full growth mindset. At first when I joined the programme, I had previously been managing software engineers at Amazon, our start up was revenue generating - at first, I was skeptical of what I could learn. Very quickly though by dropping the ego I soaked up as much as I could and I got a lot more out of the programme because I fully engaged and because of that, I created a lot more contacts which genuinely help us move the business forward.
Help out your cohort
The great thing about being on an accelerator programme is that, usually, everyone comes from a different sector and have different challenges to solve. If you have seen some of these challenges before, offer your advice. Help out one another. It makes the day so much more rewarding by helping out your fellow cohort when you can.
We often gave advice to our cohorts on Product Development and gave them ideas on how they could create minimum viable products that helps push their businesses forward.
Ask cohort for help
Likewise. If you need help, ask. We did this. One person on our cohort was in sales and that was an area where we were lacking. Thankfully we managed to get some sales lessons in our downtime - this helped us convert more customers on to our platform. Remember drop the ego, ask for help.
And when it’s over stay engaged. Elevator UK offered a hot desk service where we could meet the latest cohorts and still grab time with advisors - this is perfect for us. We still are invited to events and still get the chance to put ourselves out there and network. The initial programme is only the beginning. Remember you get out, what you put in.