There are many nay-sayers who think that accelerators are not relevant, but that could be because they haven’t understood the operating models of accelerators. An accelerator is just like a startup that manages several more startups. There is no fixed operating model. In fact, if an accelerator is not innovative and iterative in its programming, it is bound to meet a deadend sooner rather than later. Also, an accelerator needs to manage multiple stakeholder relationships beyond just the world of startups. Accelerators need to create value for each of the stakeholders; it is not an easy task, and it can’t be superficial either. The single biggest advantage an accelerator brings to startups is relationships. A robust accelerator programme provides a startup with relationships relevant to its business and situational need. Most entrepreneurs do not always have the network of contacts needed to succeed. It could be the need for an advisor, as mentor, first set of customers, hiring interns. An accelerator doing its job well would be handy .
Since the resources with a startup are limited, the second biggest value-add that an accelerator can bring is to help startups bootstrap for longer. It is not just about a fancy coworking space, at no rent or limited rent. Accelerators are a community of startups where startups access a quality peer network of like-minded entrepreneurs and access to professional services at a frac tion of regular cost, all of which allow the founders to stretch their capital further. The camaraderie between fellow entrepreneurs and sharing of wins, contacts, and hacks is something that a startup cannot access elsewhere.Most impor tantly , an accelerator lends legitimacy and visibility to a startup. It is a place where there is working due diligence beyond just a PowerPoint presentation, or financial forecasts. Accelerators create a lot of comfort for corporates while dealing with startups for a proof-of-concept, and investors see a value in building rela tionships with accelera tors for deal flow. Ove rall, accelerators are net job creators that can transform the job mar ket and economic pro sperity of communities, cities and nations.
(The writer is director of Zone Startups India, a tech accelerator which is a collaboration between BSE Institute and Ryer son University of Canada)