How to Make the Most of a Startup Accelerator

Getting into an accelerator program can change the growth trajectory of your startup. Although they’re often presented as educational environments, you’ll find most programs are largely self-directed. Here’s how to make the most of your accelerator:

Engage Peers as Customers

How: Make friends with other founders at orientation, be outgoing and welcoming in the group sessions. Ask about their product and offer feedback. Be willing to test demos or even trial your classmates’ software, if you have a potential use case. It won’t be long before they ask if they can help you.

Find your Mentors

How: Try to meet as many of the mentors as you can in the early part of the program — targeting those with relevant expertise. Schedule office hours to go over your startup’s current problems. You’re looking for the people who are both helpful and a good personality match with you (which won’t usually be everyone).

Show Up

How: Start strong with full attendance at orientation and early social events. Always attend the core sessions, which are usually every week or two. Don’t be afraid to ask if optional sessions are right for you — the partners are there to answer your questions.

Fundraise on Demo Day

How: Don’t spend all your time fundraising during the beginning weeks of the program, it’s a distraction and often fails when you have minimal traction. Instead, plan with your team and mentors in advance, so you’re demonstrating increasing strength in the run up to Demo Day. This is when most investors will want to meet.

Accelerator programs are very short in comparison to the lifespan of your startup. Plan ahead and engage the resources offered to ensure your company gets the maximum benefit from the program. Demo day will come quickly; make sure you’re ready.

If you’re a B2B company at the seed stage looking for help, you can reach me at ash@ashrust.com.

Thanks to Kaego Rust and David Smooke for their help on this article.

This article is part of a series on Accelerator programs.

1. How to Make the Most of a Startup Accelerator
2.
How to Make the Most of Demo Day

Sterling Road invests in pre-seed B2B startups based in North America. Full process here: sterlingroad.com/process.

You can reach me here: ash@sterlingroad.com

Pre-seed Investor. Email: ash@sterlingroad.com. B2B, US only. I work with founders for 3 months before investing. More info: http://SterlingRoad.com/process