What exactly is the “Startup – the road of success” program?
The first thing I think of when I hear the word “accelerator” has nothing to do with the startup world where it’s actually used most often today. Ideas like: a car part, that thing in Switzerland, some part from the Star Trek series, but nothing that has to do with startups. Fortunately, once you enter the startup world, you realize that accelerators become a place of work, growth and development.
Over the past couple of years, accelerators and accelerator programs have become one of the main participants in the startup ecosystem, encouraging thousands of founders to develop and innovate their businesses. Accelerators are much more than just ordinary service providers and finance sources today. They are increasingly profiled as an irreplaceable part of the public and private spheres that bring together entrepreneurs, investors, public enterprises and corporations with the common goal of encouraging the development of innovative businesses.
There are different models of accelerators and there is no one universal for all. What is certain is that startups need the wind in the back in the form of support in order to develop capacity and build networks that will further lead them to growth and scaling – especially in Serbia, but also in the Balkans and beyond in the EU. This is extremely important, because in this geographic area and economy, there are very few models that you can guide yourself to – and in this regard, few leaders who will pave the way in front of you. In a pioneering entrepreneurial ecosystem where we build leadership and models for disruptive startups, it is extremely important to start building essential connections and exchanges with role models early on. The reason for this is the fact that these connections can be further developed into the social and economic resources that startups need to take the first step. It is for this reason that creating these networks and resources is the ultimate goal of startups! It is very rare for startups to invest in accelerator services on their own, and with it mergers and focused networking towards investors and consultants. You conclude on your own – accelerators are the means that provide what is needed – maintaining the basic investment for a startup, in order for it to further evolve to scaling, in exchange for a share of the capital. This means that accelerators become partners participating in the startup journey and planned exits, which occur on average after 5 years. Some accelerators don’t take a stake, but work more on a profit-sharing model or promote corporate-sponsored vertical links interested in popularizing industrial innovation in their businesses.
At Impact Hub Belgrade, we have a very interesting partnership opportunities. Partnerships create an entrepreneurial state of mind and promote a fair and honest relationship building where the two partners share the risks, billing opportunities from exits, but also awareness of possible losses.
How do I know if I need an accelerator?
You don’t join the accelerator just for the sake of a cash investment. If this is the main or only reason for you to think about it at all, my advice is to quit immediately. What is the accelerator we run at Impact Hub Belgrade? Impact Hub Belgrade is a partner that invests know-how, its network of mentors and advisors, as well as monetary resources so that early-stage startups can reach the growth and expansion phase, but also to be ready for investment and scaling. As Nicole Glaros, Partner at TechStars Accelerator, explains:
“Look for investments when you don’t need them!”
What does it mean? This means that at the beginning we are working to make money! Investments at that point would just get us out of the way because we would think about what we could do with the money instead of doing what is at the core and the bottom line – developing a business model and growing revenue and profits. Once we made it, we don’t really need the money! This is where the other side of the startup comes in, which is growth and scalability. The investment serves to increase profits exponentially. So, the accelerator, together with the startup, is going through the first part of development – it brings the startup to the stage of profitability and readiness to “fly” along with the investment.
The decision whether or not to join an accelerator isn’t a decision we should take lightly. First of all, consider if you need such a program at all. Being involved in one of the programs requires a great investment of time and labor. The programs themselves last from a few weeks to a few months. With working within the program itself, the time spent implementing all the things on your startup is even bigger. The next question you should ask yourself is – what is your goal, or what do you want to get from the program? Once you have resolved these things, you come to the point of deciding which accelerator/program to choose. There is no right answer, no universal solution, but it all depends on what you need.
The network of accelerators and incubators in the world is constantly growing, which only proves the need for such places. How exactly can your startup profit by working from the accelerator? Find out below!
Mentoring and feedback
High-quality mentors are the most important thing for any accelerator. Accessing people with experience in the industry you are dealing with who can connect you with relevant partners, clients and investors is certainly something you won’t find anywhere else. In addition, people working in accelerators will share with you their knowledge and experience to help you find the path that is right for you.
The second important item is certainly feedback. When you have a great idea, it usually happens that you don’t pay enough attention to other things, so they become a problem sooner or later. Ask yourself – how much time have you devoted to developing your financial model? Defining and researching your market? Preparing operations for growth? Mentors are there to guide you, but you are the one who needs to review everything around your business and seek feedback at every turn.
Working with mentors is a two-way street – if you don’t want to appreciate their time and effort, you better not expect any miracles to happen. Mentors are there for you, but it is up to you how you use them.
Environment and Peer2Peer learning
It’s hard for you to get up in the morning and start off with business? You don’t know how to organize yourself while also being effective? The accelerator is a great solution for you! Most companies in accelerators are made up of young people full of motivation and desire to work. One such positive and competitive environment will automatically push you to be better and do your best daily. And staying in an accelerator isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle. You found the perfect formula at the moment when your work is a pleasure!
In addition to motivating you to work hard, people around you will also be the best opportunity to test some ideas, but also get feedback from those in the same position as you. Even though you all go through the same things in the program, everyone develops their own approach. You will have the opportunity to see what “works”, what not and to take on the good things for yourself.
Networking, finance and opportunities
Probably the most important part of any accelerator is the connections that can be made there. A great number of people who are directly interested in entrepreneurship and topics similar to yours go through the accelerators. Use this to connect with people who may be or already are important to you. These can be your first big clients, investors, experts in your industry, or any other group of people who can be helpful.
Accelerators are places where investors also gather. It doesn’t matter if you are ready for investment at the moment or not – if you are a startup, investors are crucial to your growth and success. Investments are made based on trust – in you and your team – so I advise you to start building good relationships as soon as possible. Not only will it help you in the future, but it will also give you instant insight into what matters to them, on the basis of which you will be able to adapt your business. Depending on what you need, investors aren’t only a source of finance. Who knows, maybe some become your business partners too. Certainly, to become any of the above, they first of all want to get to know you.
Finally, working through an accelerator will give you many opportunities. Accelerators are part of the startup ecosystem that is quite small in our area, so it’s good to know all the opportunities that are on offer. When you join an international accelerator, such as the Impact Hub, you will have access to their entire network. When you are a startup and have a job over your head, it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening in the world and what’s on offer – that’s why people in the accelerator do it for you.
Program and focus on business
No matter how capable you are, no one in the world knows everything. When you are a founder or a female founder of a startup, you need to be involved in so many different activities that people often get lost in all of it. A good program will draw your attention to the things that are important to you and help you learn what you don’t know. This is done through proven development programs that focus on optimizing processes and operations to help develop and get investment as easily as possible. This way you know exactly what part of the business you should focus on and why.
In the end…
No program, no mentor or investor will succeed for you. Accelerators are here to help you succeed, however, in this whole story, the crucial factor is – YOU! If you want to succeed and grow, and also are willing to invest the extra time, effort and take some risks on yourself – then accelerators are the right place for you. Until you believe in your own success, neither will others.
If you want your startup to grow and reach its potential, join our acceleration program “Startup – the road of success” and become a part of our global community! SIGN UP!
For any additional information you can send us an e-mail at: [email protected] or call us at: 011 408 2550