How can a business accelerator help you get your business idea off the ground?

The popularity of business accelerator programmes continues to grow. Governments want to support startups, and there are always investors looking for early-stage investment opportunities that they can help grow and invest in later on.

 

What do we mean by ‘business accelerator’?

An accelerator programme is usually one that gives developing companies access to advice, training, mentorship, investors and other support that will help them become stable, self-sufficient businesses. An accelerator programme can be useful from the very earliest ‘lightbulb’ moment in a business, through to the point when what is needed is assistance for scaling up or attracting investment.

That is the summary, in a nutshell.   I should also mention that you can participate in some for free, but some can be quite expensive.  So, what are the benefits that you and your business gain from a business accelerator?  Here are the most significant:

 

Test and Validate

Everyone with an ostensibly good idea thinks that theirs has heaps of potential which can lead to untold riches and recognition. However, inevitably, not every bright idea can be successful. In reality, most ideas for new products and services barely get off the ground.

Being selected to take part in the right accelerator programme gives you a chance to validate your idea and test your hypotheses. Is there a market for your product? Do the financials stack up? Do the costs involved in the development and/or manufacture make it a viable proposition? Is it investable?

When we have an idea that we are excited by, it’s only natural to become emotionally invested in it over a period of time. The mentorship and expertise found on an accelerator programme will help you to make a clear-headed and dispassionate evaluation of whether your idea has legs.

Also, a good programme will help you make the adjustments and course-corrections that may be required – saving you from wasting months, if not years, going down a dead end.

 

Get Comprehensive Support

Many budding entrepreneurs who end up on accelerators don’t come from business backgrounds and soon learn that launching and growing a new business can be a daunting endeavour. Accelerator programmes will address participants’ knowledge gaps (not to mention offering plenty of reassurance and emotional support!) by providing mentors, success stories and subject experts to support you and equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to get your idea off the ground.

The valuable experience and hard-won advice shared by successful entrepreneurs can be lightning in a bottle for fledgling founders. Many programmes, such as BioAccelerate 2020, set aside time in their schedules to invite founders and directors in relevant fields to offer their wisdom and to share their journeys with the cohort.

 

Discover What Investors Want

Unless you’re fortunate enough to be in line to inherit the family fortune, you’re probably going to need investment at some stage to grow your company and to bring your product or service to market.

Accelerator programmes invariably end with some sort of pitch or demo day, where you’ll demonstrate the progress you’ve made over the course of the programme to a panel of industry experts and potential investors. Learning how to present to these types of audiences will be vital in securing funding at the various stages of your startup’s journey.

 

Access Facilities you Need

Though we are witnessing a proliferation of business accelerators at the moment, not all programmes are alike. There are, of course, overlaps and similarities: most programmes will teach participants about core topics such as finances, intellectual properly, branding, product development and so on. However, some programmes go further.

Sector-specific programmes, and ones that are aligned to universities or innovation parks, can often also provide access to cutting-edge facilities and equipment, not to mention the pre-eminent expertise that you would expect to find at an academic institution.

For example, the BioAccelerate programme offered at AberInnovation gives startups in the biotechnology, agri-tech and food and drink sectors access to their brand-new £40.5m campus, which includes a state-of-the-art biorefinery and a Future Food Centre.

 

Find a Welcoming Supportive Group of Innovators

Developing a new product or service can be a lonely experience. By definition, there often won’t be many others doing the same thing, and you could be the only one. To keep up your morale and motivation levels, it’s important to find a welcoming and supportive group of peers who are on similar journeys.

It is therefore imperative to find the right programme that has rigorous and robust selection criteria to ensure a cohort of inspiring and ambitious entrepreneurs. There are bound to be dark days and moments of doubt as you iterate and develop your proposition over the course of an accelerator programme. A supportive group to bounce ideas off and provide feedback will help you navigate these more challenging times.

In an increasingly interdisciplinary world where problems often require a multitude of solutions, these bonds may even lead to fruitful opportunities in the future.

If you can find an accelerator programme that is right for your business (and your sector), it can make the difference between caring on successfully or calling a halt.  Being on a programme is demanding but then so is building a business. If you have a business idea why investigate the options? It can boost your progress in evaluating the idea and finding the right way to take it forward.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Jones is from AberInnovation. Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus (AberInnovation) provides world-leading facilities and expertise within the biotechnology, agri-tech, and food and drink sectors. Set in stunning scenery between the Cambrian Mountains and the Irish Sea, the £40.5m Campus offers an ideal environment for business and academic collaboration to flourish. https://aberinnovation.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AberInnovation

https://www.linkedin.com/company/aberystwyth-innovation-and-enterprise-campus-ltd

For more information about BioAccelerate: https://aberinnovation.com/en/our-community/bioaccelerate/

 

 

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