Good morning, All,

We’re hosting a panel on accelerators this week, let’s talk about accelerators. We mentor at ER Accelerator, and always attend the hospitality events that precede Deadline Day to talk to potentials. The question that always comes up:  Is it worth the equity they’d be giving up for a rather small amount of seed investment. Ah, but then there are the intangibles that you may not be aware of:
1.     There are mentors who are well known investors/industry luminaries who come in for an afternoon to talk to you – both as a group, to give you an overview – and then one on one. Invaluable, especially since they often return on Demo Day to catch your pitch, and you already have something of a relationship with them that’s much more than a warm introduction.
2.     There are mentors who are subject matter experts who really work with you to shape your presentation – and introduce you to potential partners/clients. You often have access to them for far longer than just an afternoon, they’re also there on Demo Day, and some of them even end up investing in the companies they’ve been mentoring. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Some even invest before Demo Day, or introduce you to potential clients/investors who do.
3.     Sessions generally run for three months – which means that you’re in very close quarters with your investors, qua, the people running the accelerator. They get to know you and your product inside and out, and they don’t disappear after Demo Day: they’re always there to help you.
4.     Camaraderie/help you get from other companies in your ‘class’ – and they don’t forget you after the session is over
5.     Of course, your pitch and deck are shaped up and made investor-ready,
6.     The weekly ‘practice pitches, ‘ with invited guests present who are either investors or subject matter experts – and their input is invaluable – and some of them might also be a potential investor/client of yours.
7.     If/when you get stuck, subject matter experts are brought in to help you.
8.     Companies from previously classes come to the pitch sessions – and they might have contact/clients/affiliates for you as well.
9.     It doesn’t end once your 3 months are up: the accelerators have a vested interest in you; they get to know you well; and they’re always there for you when you need them
10. Demo Day – the investors and the press come to you.

Because of the mentors/support system in place at the accelerators, it’s not unusual for startups there to have clients/revenue even before they hit demo day. Not bad for a 3-month program, eh? Think of it as a startup school: a crash course in how to build a business, where they pay you to attend – and of course there’s a trade off: that’s the bit of equity they take, and they’ve earned it.  Not every company succeeds, but isn’t that always the case. Is it for you? That’s your call. Each one has its own sweet spots, so don’t put all of your eggs in one basket – and there are plenty of accelerators out there, so if you don’t get into the first one, next.  Because we always go – onward and forward.

Our next panel/networking event is this evening :  Adults in the Room: Accelerators and How They Can Benefit Your Company. We all know that the Series A crunch has made it tougher for startups to attract financing.   Securing investment in the seed and early stages is critical, and from whom you secure it matters, too.   Accelerator programs are an excellent option for early stage entrepreneurs to consider: they offer a vast array of benefits that will literally propel your startup from conception to a viable business.  They offer classes to help you shape your business and get it investor-ready. Notable industry experts as mentors are available to help when you get stuck. The structure and format of accelerators are among their greatest values. They also give you some funding – and come Demo Day, put you in front of the right investors to help get you to the next level. But what does it take to make it through the door?
Join us to get an inside perspective on accelerators. We’ll hear from three top accelerator programs:
Murat Aktihanoglu – ER Accelerator (which has an application deadline coming up)
Karen Griffith Gryga – DreamIt Accelerator (their deadline application will be later this week)
Kelly Hoey – Women Innovatate Mobile Accelerator (who will be starting their next class quite soon)
and from Doug Krugman (WebThriftStore), a serial entrepreneur and former VC, who decided to launch his latest venture by going through an accelerator program (ER Accelerator). There must have been a reason for it. Come find out – and hear about accelerator programs, from both sides of the coin. Note: panelists will introduce themselves and tell us about their accelerators/background – then you’re free to ask them whatever you’d like to know.  Amazing refreshments will be served, networking will be done and insights will be offered, and our special thanks to Orrick for hosting. RSVP here.


The list of Startup Weekend Upcoming Events

DreamIt Ventures Accelerator Summer class is now accepting application. Deadline: March 15.  It’s their third annual New York City Accelerator program, which will begin in mid-May and run to mid-August. The program offers $25,000 in seed funding, as well as collaborative work space, mentoring, exclusive speaking engagements with industry leaders, and an opportunity to pitch to investors on Demo Day. To apply as a company or an individual: http://www.dreamitventures.com/

WIM Behind The Pitch, deadline to apply to pitch, March 22. Getting funded is challenging – and Behind The Pitch focuses on understanding and navigating the funding market, each quarter.

NEW  Startup Institute, deadline May 5th. SI works with professionals, career changers, and dynamic individuals to equip them with the skills needed to have an immediate impact on the startup company they join. The primary objective is to align passion with profession, and usher students into a life they love. This is a full-time, immersive, eight-week experience that will catapult you into your city’s technology ecosystem in the areas of web development, product & design, technical marketing, or sales & business development. Apply here and heads up: apply now: as soon as the class is full, applications close, too.

YCombinator, deadline March 29th. How do we choose who to fund? The people in your group are what matter most to us. We look for brains, motivation, and a sense of design. Experience is helpful but not critical. The ideal company would have two or three founders. We’ll consider those with four or five. We’re reluctant to accept one-person companies, though we have funded a couple. You do need to be in the Bay area (or be willing to move there).

Mass Challenge, deadline, April 3rd.  The overall focus of the application process is impact. MassChallenge does not define impact, but leaves that up to the applicants. Impact for one company might mean improving lives or curing a disease, while for another it might be generating an enormous amount of revenue.

ER Accelerator now accepting applications for Summer 2013. Final deadline: April 19th. $40,000 investment 4-month program. Follow-on investment in future rounds. 200+ awesome mentors, including yours truly. Apply now.

Global Apps to Empower Competition Seeks Apps to Educate and Empower Women Everywhere, deadline April 30th. Applications that best satisfy the competition criteria will receive cash prizes and the opportunity to have their apps featured on Datawind’s $40 Ubislate educational tablet. That’s potentially a lot of computers – and a big win for the winning app! The UN is involved and the winning apps will be receive cash prizes, recognition (judges for the contest include Joanne Wilson, Vivek Wadhwa, Geena Davis. For more information and to apply: http://appstoempower.org/

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For you edification this week:

The fake church of entrepreneurship. Are you still listening to the people you’ve painted as entrepreneurial prophets?

Twitter kills TweetDeck for iPhone, Android and AIR, drops Facebook integration, Mac and PC versions live on. “We’ve seen a steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter on their mobile devices.” Those needs, apparently, will be filled by Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android and whatever features are available in the web version of TweetDeck.

Understanding the Consequences of the Business Decisions You Fudge On. You want to be ‘fair’ to the guy you need to lay off: what about the rest of the staff. Excellent lessons from Mark Suster.

The Importance of Benevolent Dictators. It’s never easy being the guy on top. As Mark Suster says, “I believe that groups coming together to make tough decisions driven by consensus tend to make poor decisions.”

Why Startups Fail. Right to the point.

How to Pitch Your Startup in 3 Minutes. “I like teams that have a product ready to show, start out with a demo and get straight into who it is for,” Robert Scoble says.

Indian Farmers tackle pests with colas – Coke and Pepsi, specifically. It’s not just for removing the paint on your car anymore.

Man Has 75 Per Cent of His Skull Replaced By a 3D-Printed Replicas

@chrisheuer: Wow. Glad I didn’t stay out till 3am last night. Still tired. 40 may be the new 30, but midnight is the old 2am. #sxsw

Elevator Pitch/Member News
Hint, hint: Feel free to tell us what you’re working on, or if you’ve been featured in the press…Share, and we will, too!

That’s it from us for now. Hope to see you at our event this evening and remember: it’s just before the DreamIt deadline, and not long before the ER Accelerator final deadline for applications. Good time to meet the principals and get some invaluable insights about what they’re looking for, this time around.  Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day and now, as always, help is on the way…

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