Have you been thinking about applying to an accelerator?
We have seen an explosion of startup accelerators, like TechStars, DreamIt and Excelerate Labs to name a few, over the past several years. Not only do they do a great job of supporting a localized startup ecosystem but they provide startup capital, mentorship, connections, and the sheer notoriety of being chosen amongst hundreds of applicants.
If you’ve been on the fence about taking a chance with a local accelerator (or one of the ones mentioned above) my suggestion is: stop thinking about it, and do it! Right now.
My startup, GiveForward, participated in Excelerate Labs in 2010, and it was by far the best decision we’ve made as a company.
Here are four lessons we learned from participating in a startup accelerator that can help you improve your chances of being accepted.
1. Highlight your traction.
By the time we applied, we had already processed $1 million in donations on our site and had received a number of media hits. If you have any traction whatsoever, highlight it in your application. Put it at the very top with gold stars around it.
The Director of Excelerate Labs, noted that our traction — the $1 million in processed donations — was the number one reason we were accepted.
2. Apply now!
I’m serious. Apply like yesterday … or last week.
We applied on the first day applications opened last year and it gave us a leg up. The folks running these accelerators are going to be sifting though something like 500 – 1000 applications. They are going to choose 10 companies. If you are application #857, your idea better be really good.