Lighthouse Labs Managing Director Todd Nuckols shares comments related to the value of accelerators: Accelerators improve your chance to successfully navigate the early seed stage of your startup but they are not a guarantee. Founders should consider how they plan to leverage the network created with an accelerator, which is often regional, after the program ends.
Name of Accelerator: Lighthouse Labs
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Managing Director: Todd Nuckols
Program Manager: Joanna Pheil
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.
Our objective is to give founders capital, connections and customers without diluting the value of their business. We help founders validate their business by connecting them with industry leading mentors as well as provide guided workshops to help them build and launch their business.
Why is your accelerator program unique? Please describe the benefits of participation in your program.
We give founders $20,000 in seed capital without equity stakes, a key differentiator among other accelerators that for the most part are fund-based accelerators.
What is the most difficult part of working with startups?
The most difficult part of working with startups is making sure the right resources and connections are available at the right time in the founder’s journey.
What do you enjoy the most; what do you find most appealing about working with the entrepreneurial startups?
The best part about working with entrepreneurial startups is seeing their passion and determination for the problem their business is trying to solve.
Tell us about your success stories; which are the most interesting companies to have participated in your program?
Kickup is a startup from our first funded program founded by two former teachers who knew there were major inefficiencies around professional development with the teaching community. Shortly after Lighthouse, they created a platform that matched teachers for mentorship in exchange for professional development credit. They have since gone through an education-specific accelerator in Silicon Valley, serve over 800 schools and have raised $ 1.5M in outside capital.
Hourwise grew from the founder’s personal need as a paint contractor. By mixing a concierge service for contractors and a powerful technology driven process, Hourwise exemplifies the “Third Wave” of startup innovation that Steve Case suggests includes integrated, transformational services. This success has tripled the size of the team, inspired local investment and produces a range of new jobs, not just coding and marketing, in Richmond.
What are the three most important factors startup entrepreneurs should consider when contemplating attending an accelerator?
- Is at least one founder ready to commit his or herself to the business full time?
- Are you coachable as a founder/founding team?
- Do you have the right team with the right skill sets in place to successfully execute?
What else would you like to share?
Accelerators improve your chance to successfully navigate the early seed stage of your startup but they are not a guarantee. Founders should consider how they plan to leverage the network created with an accelerator, which is often regional, after the program ends. They should also look to those programs that really do put the founder first in the process.
We like to think offering capital without equity and focusing on curating meaningful mentor relationships does more for startup execution than following a certain formula or relying on all-star assets. Try to get to know the program and don’t be afraid to ask questions and engage early with the accelerators that you believe offer solid value.
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Are you familiar with other accelerators you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing your comments below.