GAM 2013: A Tentative Wrap Up

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The Global Accelerator Network had the pleasure of cosponsoring the Global Accelerator Meeting this year. Held at the beautiful H-Farm Campus in Venice, Italy- this annual event brings together managing directors, investors and accelerator staff from leading accelerator programs. We reached out to Giuseppe Folonari, program manager for H-Farm’s accelerator program H-Camp to share his primary takeaways from the event.

The second edition of the Global Accelerator Meeting is over; we are honored to have hosted two days full of fruitful discussions and, of course, a lot of fun with the best of breed of international accelerators.

Many ideas and cues emerged over the workshops: it’s no surprise, when so many players get together; the quality of the participants was extremely high and as a matter of course all the basics were given for granted, leaving room for specific, insightful topics.

Out of the many useful discussions, three main points emerged as a leit-motiv:

It works!
It’s not just SV.
Encouraging results shared by MDs on their demo days (pre-commitments, full/over-funding…) tell us that the value proposition is solid, for both entrepreneurs and investors; from New Zealand to Italy, short term, mentorship driven accelerator models are meeting the expectations of their stakeholders.

Set aside the local scale of the business – which is based on market-specific size and maturity – investors acknowledge startups graduating from an accelerator a “premium”, given the key role that accelerators play in scouting, selecting and mentoring the best entrepreneurial talent in the local and international communities.
The local environment is a key factor (as we experience each and every day in Italy), but the de-risking component we play is validated at global scale and should be exploited locally, even in markets not traditionally related to innovation and entrepreneurship.

Still, we are facing challenges in finding a repeatable business models that works for everyone. But…

We are not NGO’s
It may seem rather obvious: acceleration programs clearly have a social impact in terms of economic development, but this doesn’t (necessarily) result in a social business.As Jon Bradford of Springboard and TechStars London pointed out, though, accelerators tend to be “apologetic” regarding their business model. It’s a viable, multi-local business in its early stage: although still facing challenges on the monetization (as any other startup in the world), the premises for a “new asset investment class” are set.

Which bring us to the third point…

The inner unfair competitive advantage
In today’s world, innovation is not strictly related to a product or service “inventions” but rather on finding new processes and business models to adapt to a fast changing market. The iconic spark of innovation, the invention, is not enough anymore: corporations as well as startups are struggling to find a way to set up learning-oriented organizations able to sustain that spark systematically. In two worlds: people and processes. Our challenge is there: accelerators are very well positioned to serve the rising demand for these two assets, if they are successful in becoming innovators catalyst rather than “just” startup factories.

We have a challenging and interesting route ahead of us, and with that we are looking forward to the next meeting.