Well, the answer is three. How many did you think?
I know you may be reading this and thinking that that’s ridiculous, and I know that some startups don’t even know what an accelerator is or how they can be beneficial, but they can be great, and here’s why –
First, lets spend a moment discussing what accelerator programs entail:
A Startup Accelerator is a limited-time program, usually managed by a Venture Capital firm, which provides resources for different types of startups, in different lifecycle stages, to accelerate their products.
It almost always involves some sort of investment in the company (usually in exchange for equity) at an amount that won’t make you rich, but will allow the founders to not starve during the program.
Some programs provide office spaces, (in which you’re expected to work out of during the program) and some don’t.
Usually, the main focus of the program is to accelerate businesses, but also to provide a due diligence process and recommendations for the company once the program commences.
This due diligence should help future investors to invest in your company more easily, since the company has already been validated by a professional organization.
Not all accelerators were born equal
In top-tier accelerators like like Startup Bootcamp, Dreamit, TechStars and YC, you get a lot of doors opened to clients and investors. For others, that’s not necessarily the case.
From the company perspective, an accelerator gives you the opportunity to work full-time on your project, with some funding and the ability to leverage the connections the program offers. This allows companies to go to market much faster than they would be able to on their own.
In addition, accelerators might be the most cost effective way to reach new markets.
The chances of being accepted to a top program is about 2%, so the chances of participating in three with the same company is 0.0008%.
Suddenly it starts sounding like an achievement! :)
So now that we have definited accelerators, let me explain why we participated in three different accelerators, and what we have learned in the process.
Accelerator 1: Startup Bootcamp Israel 2014
When got accepted into Startup Bootcamp Israel, we were an extremely young company.
In fact, our company wasn’t even incorporated. We were just three people working on an idea part-time.
The program was a great opportunity for us. We learned so much, met amazing people, made huge progress, but the most important thing was that all of a sudden, our idea was no longer just an idea!
We finally received the validation we needed to drop everything and start working on our business full-time.
You wouldn’t believe how valuable that experience was!
Accelerator 2: Dreamit Philly 2014
After we finished SBC, we joined a delegation of Israeli startups in Los Angeles.
We presented our project to the local community and were amazed with the positive feedback we received.
This made us realize that our real market is in The United States.
So, we asked ourselves, how can a resource-poor early-stage startup try their luck in a completely new market, not to mention, country?
Well, they can be fortunate enough to find a local investor that will finance the venture, or they can deplete their own bank account; but the most cost-effective, obvious answer is (all together now): AN ACCELERATOR!
After few months of endless applications to different programs, both on the East and West Coasts, we got accepted into three programs. (This seems to be a lucky number for us!) Dreamit was the best of the three, and our first choice from the beginning.
Dreamit was an amazing, life-changing experience!
We finally found our sweet spot, and we were able to move our business forward in a way that we would never have been able to do alone.
Some of our biggest success stories were being chosen as one of the companies for Philadelphia’s Hottest Startup, to be featured in many US news media articles, and to present at the Noah Conference @ London as one of the finalists in the 7VPD pitch contest.
Our biggest achievement was executing a huge pilot with the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2014, which was a HUGE success and proved that what we’re building actually works.
AND IT WORKS AMAZINGLY!
Without the support of the Dreamit program, we would never have enough resources for what we completed – including the right connections and network to make it all happen in such a short period of time.
These days we still have an office in Philly in a super fun office space named Venture F0rth and our primary market is there.
Accelerator 3: European Pioneers
Now we are finally able to share our newest announcement with the rest of the world:
Pico is one of 13 teams to receive a grant from the European Union and participate in the European Pioneers program in Berlin!
This is different from any other program we’ve done so far. It is much longer (8 months), we receive much more money, and we are in the best position to leverage it efficiently.
We are super excited that this opportunity will allow us to penetrate a brand new market!
We are at the inception of a huge adventure, which is why we started Pico in the first place.
Stay tuned here, as I promise to keep you posted with all of the interesting things that we do in Berlin!