Are Accelerators Really Helping Startup Companies?

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It’s a great question and one that I’m asked about every other day.
There is a new accelerator that seems to be popping up at least once a week. I would argue that every large city around the world has at least one accelerator that’s promising boatloads of funding, connections to famous mentors, and life-long happiness. But are accelerators really delivering on their promises?

2012 Managing Directors' Conference in Review

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Managing Directors from over 30 member accelerators gathered in Chicago for our yearly Managing Directors’ conference last week. This is the event for Managing Directors from the top accelerators from around the world. Over a jam packed 24 hours, attendees networked, shared ideas and best practices and worked in small groups to answer questions from 4 selected speakers on topics affecting accelerators.

Chinaccelerator

Chinaccelerator was one of the first accelerators in China.

Can you share some background about why Chinaccelerator was formed and how you identified the market need for an accelerator?

China is a great place for mentorship-driven activities since the market is burgeoning and entrepreneurs are relatively inexperienced. Entrepreneurs are also extremely risk-averse and by providing some seed funding we help them jump into the arena. Failing becomes less an issue, since the program becomes a badge of honor and would help them – worse case scenario – to land a great job in a tech powerhouse.

Founder Profile: ShopSpot

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ShopSpot is a mobile app that makes buying and selling items as easy as tweeting! Just find something you want to sell, then Snap, Tag, and Post. That’s it. It’s for anyone who wants to get rid of tired old stuff, but too lazy to do it on a traditional online marketplace.

Practicing What You Preach

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After wrapping up year one of Launch Pad Ignition last June my co-founders and I took some time to reflect on our first year. The program was successful, but we knew there was room for improvement.

The role of an accelerator is to identify startups with a strong team and winning idea and help them improve their odds of success. It’s our job to design a program that will help them become stronger founders and connect them to the resources they need, be it capital, mentorship, talent, or direction. Everything else is lagniappe.

We value honesty and self-awareness in our founders, so it’s important that we hold ourselves to that standard by assessing Ignition’s performance and making changes to incrementally improve the program.