5 tips from founders on how to get into an accelerator
Sure, there are tons of startup accelerators and incubators. But that doesn't mean they're easy to get into. Some have acceptance rates on par with Ivy League schools.
You know that having a solid team and some kind of business plan is important, but what's going to really make your startup stand out? Here are a few resources from around the web to help you put together a stellar application.
Sam Teller, managing director of Launchpad LA, says to be concise and use bullet points in an application. "Remember that our brains are melting from reading so, so many applications, so please do us a favor and help us distill the most important points from your application."
When The Tap Lab, a game startup that went through TechStars Boston and the 2011 MassChallenge, applied to TechStars, it did what CEO Dave Bisceglia described as "building a fire on the horizon." In other words, it made plans that would get the attention of the admission committee, which looks for traction and super-motivated entrepreneurs. Bisceglia told ReadWrite that his company scheduled a product launch at South by Southwest the same week TechStars was scheduled to start, so if the team was admitted they wouldn't be able to make the first week of the program. "It demonstrated that we were a moving train and that we'd be able to really ramp things up once we started in the program."
There's got to be a reason you're applying to the incubator or accelerator now, and Ian Jeffrey of Founderfuel Accelerator Program in Montreal encourages startups to make that clear in an application. You should just be coming in for the money or because you already think you have all the answers, so show that you're open-minded.
Remember that personality matters. In Inc. magazine's recap of a discussion with five accelerator founders at the 2013 Launch Festival, Rock Health's Halle Tecco explains that the accelerator invests in more than a companies — it invests in entrepreneurs. "We filter for personality," she said. "We work with these people in the pit for months. We are creating a sustainable community, looking for people who are going to give back."
On that note, having someone within the accelerator's network who can provide a recommendation or reference could give entrepreneurs a leg up, says Dinesh Moorjani from (now defunct) mobile app incubator Hatch Labs.