Rise of the Pre-Accelerator Program

Yesterday I was talking with an entrepreneurial civic leader and he was telling me about the pre-accelerator program they do. Hmm, pre-accelerator, I hadn’t heard of that before. With the incredible growth of programs like Y Combinator and TechStars, and the corresponding level of difficulty to get accepted, it makes sense that programs are emerging to help prep startups for the application process.

Here are a few components of a potential pre-accelerator program:

  • Pitch Practice – Entrepreneurs love to talk about their vision. Only, 9 times out of 10 it is too jargon-filled and complicated for the average person to understand. Refining this message and coming up with a written elevator pitch that’s 30 seconds long is a great exercise.
  • Goal Setting – When asked, most entrepreneurs say they want to be successful. Then, the next logical question is “how do you define success?” and there’s rarely a concrete answer. Entrepreneurs need to think through and write down SMART goals.
  • MVP Development – Many startups applying to an accelerator program already have a minimum viable product (MVP) and some even have a number of paying customers. No longer is it enough to apply to an accelerator program with only an idea so there’s a need to put a prototype together in advance of the application.
  • Executive Summary – Building a simple two page document that succinctly describes the main aspects of the startup is a start rite of passage for entrepreneurs. The executive summary should contain information about the idea, team, market, product, and more.

Look for more pre-accelerator programs to form and entrepreneurs to get value regardless of whether or not they’re accepted in an accelerator program. Entrepreneurship is hard and programs that help increase the chance of success are an important part of the community.

What else? What are some more thoughts on pre-accelerator programs?

2 thoughts on “Rise of the Pre-Accelerator Program

  1. Hi David,

    I’m a huge proponent of Entrepreneurial Education.  I meet so many first- time entrepreneurs who are willing to do the work; they just need a little guidance on the path forward.

    Our ATDC Educate program is open to all technology entrepreneurs in Georgia. It is essentially a non-cohort- based accelerator program with two entry points a month. The program runs 4 to 6 months, depending upon the entrepreneur’s entry point and diligence. It takes the students through 8 weeks of customer discovery, 4 weeks of financial literacy, 3 weeks focused on “telling their story,” 2 weeks of marketing/PR workshops, 2 weeks of sales workshops, 2 weeks of HR-related workshops, and wraps with a 3-week-long Investor Readiness program, co-taught by Atlanta Technology Angels.  

    We’ve been running and evolving the program for four years. Year-to-date, we’ve had 189 entrepreneurs start this program.

    ATDC is here to serve. So if you know of any entrepreneurs chasing down a technology idea/business, send them our way!  http://atdc.org

    Jen Bonnett

  2. Some other things that are not taught strongly enough – and should be part of any accelerator or pre-accelerator program, is the imortance of transparency/communication with mentors/stakeholders/existing and/or future investors.

    In addition, the tax laws available to de-risk angel investing (thus making the fundraising quicker) is also not widely known, and thus not discussed.

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