Startup Accelerator Spotlight: The Harbor Accelerator

The Harbor Accelerator

The Harbor Accelerator contains a wealth of knowledge from experts and mentors within the industry to help educate early stage company founders on how to build a business.

The Harbor Accelerator

Co-Founder, John Osborne

Name of Accelerator: The Harbor Accelerator

Location: Charleston, SC

Website: www.harborec.com

Co-Founder & Director: John Osborne

This article is part of our Startup Accelerator Spotlight Series featuring accelerators from around the world. We hope these spotlights will assist the entrepreneur should they consider attending an accelerator program.

In two sentences or less, tell us about your accelerator and its objectives.

The Harbor’s mission is to create collision among  the entrepreneurial community. Our accelerator program is highly focused on educating early stage company founders on how to build a business.

Why is your accelerator program unique? Please describe the benefits of participation in your program.

The Harbor AcceleratorA couple of elements make The Harbor Accelerator stand out. First, all the mentors involved in the program have started a business that has generated over $1M in revenue. We believe the guidance should come from those who have actually been where you are and got where you want to go. Second, participating companies are issued a $5K convertible note which acknowledges the program has value, but the note does not trigger into equity unless milestones are hit. If the program doesn’t help the company move forward, there is no trigger and no equity provided to The Harbor.

What is the most difficult part of working with startups?

The most difficult part is that we can’t do more for each of them.

What do you enjoy the most; what do you find most appealing about working with entrepreneurial startups?

I love hearing the stories of why the founder(s) decided to embark on their journey. In addition, being around the energy and optimism of startup founders is incredibly fun.

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Tell us about your success stories; which are the most interesting companies to have participated in your program?

Collectively, Harbor Accelerator graduates have raised over $5M in the past 3 years.

What are the three most important factors startup entrepreneurs should consider when contemplating attending an accelerator?

  1. Why is the accelerator doing it and does that motivation align with what you are looking for?
  2. Who is involved and do they have the resources and connections to help with your specific initiative?
  3. What do the graduates who have already been through it have to say about it?

What else would you like to share?

The Harbor Accelerator took applications through August 1, 2017 for cohort 8, which is running from August 14th to November 15th.   Our selection process depends entirely on the individual or team’s commitment to success and basic business concept. We are sector agnostic and open to any great idea regardless of the industry sector. Certain industries are natural fits to the Charleston region and our unique core competencies. Those industries include Digital, Advanced Security, Aerospace, Healthcare, and Food/Tourism. However, be clear, regardless of the business sector…there are three things we look for when evaluating a startup: innovation, scalability, and the team’s ability to execute.

Are you familiar with other accelerators you believe should be highlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing your comments below.


Pam Goforth

Pam Goforth is Research Manager for FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.