17 Questions to Ask Before Attending an Accelerator

Attend an Accelerator

Thinking about attending an accelerator but don’t know what to expect? What’s the chance of success? Will your startup receive investment? We’ve contacted accelerators across North America to find out what entrepreneurs really need to know before they attend an accelerator.

What companies have successfully completed the accelerator? Have they found success? Are those companies able to find investment? Are those companies generating revenue? These are the common questions entrepreneurs will ask themselves when researching programs to attend. If you’re considering attending an accelerator (especially first time entrepreneurs), here is a list of questions you should ask yourself and your startup.

  1. Are you still debating if entrepreneurship is right for you?

    Have you seriously explored whether or not your are ready for the commitment of building and running a business?

  2. Do you and your Co-founders have the time to attend and actively participate in the program?
  3. What are you willing to sacrifice for the program?

    Most require 100% focus on your startup.

  4. Has your team established goals and objectives to complete during your time in the accelerator?
  5. Do you have a strong team available and able to take full advantage of the experience?

    Is your team ready to take full advantage of everything an accelerator has to offer? (Resources, office space, networking opportunities, pitch contests?)

  6. Are you and your Co-founders coach-able and willing to be challenged / listen to and consider the mentors comments and suggestions?
  7. Are the founders / executives comfortable integrating lean startup methodologies into your business and in utilizing them moving forward?
  8. Are your prepared for the entrepreneurial journey?

    The business will most likely be your total focus for the foreseeable future. This is only the beginning, it’s a lot of work and you will only get from it what you put into it.

  9. Is the team prepared for the intensive process required to get your MVP launched, make industry connections and drive your company’s traction to accelerate sales?
  10. Are the founders comfortable with the potential ratio of value creation over equity?

    Many accelerators require equity in return for attendance of the program. Is the education / mentoring / investment you receive from the accelerator worth giving up part of your company?

    Giving Away Startup Ownership: How Much Is Too Much?

  11. Do you need investment?

    What is the amount you are seeking? What do you intend to use the funds for?

  12. Are you a first-time entrepreneur?

    If so, your odds of success are low. Accelerators that meet in-person provide a flood of mentors and a strong network of support after graduation. The real value of an accelerator is the people it connects you to.

  13. Are you prepared to meet and foster relationships amongst leaders and mentors of various accelerators and industries?

    To attend an accelerators is to bring attention to your startup. Mentors can provide you access to their diverse network in the community.

  14. Have you looked at the companies that have been through the program?

    Have they found success? Are those companies able to find investment? Are those companies generating revenue?

  15. Does the accelerator match investor type for your startup?

    What phase of the funding life cycle is your startup currently in?

  16. For experienced entrepreneurs (generally applicants with larger growth-stage companies), the single most important factor is that they do not need to give up any equity.
  17. Ask yourself what are these benefits worth to you.

    Accelerators are spending a lot more than cash in a startup. From making sure your legal contracts are done right to the mentorship with rock star mentors. Ask yourself what are these benefits worth to you.

(All advice given is courtesy of the following startups: Seed Sumo, Prosper Women Entrepreneurs, Boom Startup, VentureHive, FounderFuel, UpTech, Healthbox, Seamless, Blue Startups, Fledge, LUISS ENLABS, StartX, Orion Startups and EVC Ventures.)

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Tony Lettich

Tony Lettich has previous Business Analysis, Business Valuation, M&A, and Venture Capital experience and currently serves as the Managing Director of The Angel Roundtable and a Partner in Sheehan, Lettich M&A Advisory. He is also a co-founder of FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to launch and build startups.