Saturday, September 23, 2023

Have Startup Accelerators reached their use-by date? Why it’s time to cancel the demo day

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Shreya Christinahttps://cafe-madrid.com
Shreya has been with cafe-madrid.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider cafe-madrid.com team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

I have been designing and running accelerator programs since 2010 and believe they have made a significant contribution to the innovation system we have today.

Ten years ago, few people had the ambition to start a business, and there was little funding and support for capacity building. Most universities have their accelerators, and dozens of accelerators operate outside universities.

But do we still need them? Who are they for? What problem do they solve?

Here are some arguments for not needing them anymore.

#1: The skill upgrade is done

Accelerator programs have spread a fairly consistent roadmap for starting a business. Ten years ago, most people struggled to create and build momentum. Today, people are rolling out their lean canvas, speaking to clients, and building an MVP. Game on.

When help is needed, the Internet is bursting with free resources, and support networks are easily connected in online communities or co-working centers.

#2: ‘Innovation Theater’ has poisoned the well

Demo days are shiny. We are working hard to polish the field so that demo days will increasingly resemble theatrical performances.

It makes the event great, but very difficult to look in the packaging to judge the companies. It is difficult for investors to dissect the diamonds from the turds in gold-plated boxes.

Not many investments are made on demo days anymore.

#3: Clich├ęs from the script need a refresh

The same tools and content spread from accelerator to accelerator with a different logo on top. This material is generally made by founders who learned from construction companies. The signal is lost if “Chinese whisper” relays the original message.

So, do we need accelerators?

Yes we do. But they have to level up. Accelerators 1.0 has done the job of quickly building our collective entrepreneurial muscles and building networks.

We’re not done yet. This is the ‘infinite game’. We CAN put an end to it, but I say we change the rules to extend it and move on.

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