Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, describes the basic premise of the first modern accelerator, Y-Combinator, in his book entitled Without Their Permission:
“The premise was simple: a little bit of money, guidance, and three intensive months of writing code and talking to users could one day result in a billion-dollar company. Granted, at the end of three months, the goal was just to have gotten far enough to raise another round of funding – an angel investment, typically a few hundred thousand dollars.”
This got me thinking: is it really, truly clear to founders applying to our program what exactly is expected of them? By investors whom they approach after the program? By the accelerator itself? What about teams accepted into the program – what expectations should they set for themselves during the three month program?
Has the thinking surrounding accelerators changed from the way that Alexis Ohanian describes them – as simply pushing companies far enough to raise another round – or has it become something more?
Here are three different perspectives on what you and your co-founders should work towards while going through an accelerator:
For this one I turned to a partner at Real Ventures, to pick their brain about what they would expect from a company approaching them after having graduated from an accelerator. The partner explains that they look for a very clear go to market strategy, a solid understanding of what’s needed to show progress and traction, a strong team (perhaps following from all of the sleepless nights in pitch prep together…) as well as co-founders with a gung-ho attitude.
This I can speak to. FounderFuel looks for startups at the go to market stage: a great team of co-founders, v1 of a product released (or a solid beta), as well as a pretty good idea of a long-term value proposition. We then work with these teams to set aggressive goals together. Once those are set, we hold teams accountable for completing them – we expect results. Most importantly, we provide the resources necessary for teams to successfully accomplish their goals.
3) Teams themselves:
This one’s a bit trickier. We’ve seen teams come through FounderFuel with very varied expectations, some resulting in more success than others. Vaguely speaking, those who have found the most success have expected to work incredibly hard. Some have expected to raise a seed round of $1, 000, 000 by demo day. Others have vowed to release their v2, v3, even v4 to the general public. Sometimes, expectations are in misalignment with reality. That’s okay. Other times, expectations are far exceeded. That’s even better.
We’re currently on the lookout for co-founders ready to step it up. If you want your startup to be the best in the world, we want to work with you. We are recruiting for Fall 2015. Apply here.