The Beginner’s Guide to Startup Accelerator Programs
Entrepreneurship is the backbone of any healthy economy, and we all know it’s hard to launch a startup. Accelerators are fixed-term (that is, limited duration) programs built to develop talented entrepreneurs and help them succeed in the often tumultuous new venture process. It’s a golden opportunity for any new founder, but it is also quite competitive.
The perks of being part of an accelerator program:
- Monetary Network – Get your business funded much faster than on your own, thanks to the network of angel investors and VCs looking to accelerators for investment opportunities.
- Partnership Network – knowledgeable mentors, advisors and partnership opportunities, lending to your success and scale
- Fellowship – the camaraderie of working side by side with other talented entrepreneurs in the same program – bouncing ideas off each other, providing feedback, and growing together. There’s often a strong alumni network which lasts for a lifetime
Before anything, know more about your business!
- What kind of business are you building?
- Who are your clients?
- What is your value proposition?
- How are you going to reach your customers?
- What are your challenges and how might you overcome them?
- Your company’s stage: Understand where your company is in its lifecycle and how it aligns with the programs you are looking to join
- Your desired level of oversight: Figure out your comfort level first. Ask yourself, “Do I want someone looking under the hood of my company and telling me what I am doing wrong?” Certain accelerators have higher levels of oversight and involvement than others, so make sure you are familiar with what you’re signing up for
- The accelerator’s expertise: The strength of the accelerator lies in its leadership team and leadership’s networks. Understand the strength and experiences of the leaders and advisors of the accelerator.
- Your desired outcome: Where do you want to be at the end of the accelerator program, and what do you want to have accomplished? Nail a seed round? Launch a Kickstarter? Increase your sales? Have some concrete goals in mind.
- Location: Think about where do you want to develop your network. If you’re in Canada, perhaps that means exploring the Toronto-Waterloo corridor, situating yourself on the West Coast in Vancouver, or getting involved in the startup community in Montreal.
Here is our short list of notable Canada accelerators to get your research jump started. Visit their websites to see if they are right for your business!
- Toronto based
- For web/mobile-based software companies
- 2 cohorts of 5 companies each year
- Three-month program
- Toronto based
- Funnel Program & Acceleration Program
- Early-stage program
- Administrative fee as well as 3% in equity, Acceleration program for 4.5%
- The program selects 36 university students per year
- Up to $80,000 in seed capital
- For young founders looking to scale their technology ventures
- Looking for companies that leverage technology to improve the way people live, learn, work and play.
- Has invested in 23 companies
- Has raised $11.3 million from angel investors, seed funds, loan programs, and grants.
- Associated with the University of Waterloo
- Largest free startup incubator in the world
- From idea to product development to commercialization
- Waterloo based
- Regional hub for the commercialization of innovative technologies
- Supports over 1000 startups
- Word-class coaching from advisors and mentors
- Vancouver based
- Database of 350 million leads
- Global network
- Montreal based
- Early stage web, mobile, and SaaS start-ups
- Three-month program