6 tips to rock it in an acceleration programme
One of the most important tasks, if not the most, in any ‘To do list’ of a startup is to get funding to be able to grow. Acceleration programmes, especially for those startups that are at an alpha or beta stage, are a great boost, not only for the funding itself, but also for the mentoring and training services.
Roi Rodríguez de Bernardo, the coordinator of IMPACT Growth acceleration programme in FundingBox, knows what we are talking about here. IMPACT is one of the top ten accelerator programmes in the world according to Gust report, and Roi has been part of it since almost the beginning in 2014. In these years, IMPACT has accelerated 77 startups, funding them with around €8 million besides giving them services such as mentoring, training, internationalization or access to private and public investment.
We trust Roi’s word and here you have 6 tips to make to most out of an acceleration programme!
1. Select a good acceleration programme tailored to your needs
According to Roi, a good acceleration programme has to help the startups in the stage they are, it must be tailored to their needs -both in terms of funding and services. “In the programme I’m running, IMPACT Accelerator, most of the startups apply because of the money, but at the end of the programme, the service they most value is the mentoring and the connections they did because they spend the money in months, but contacts can last forever. And contacts can bring you more opportunities than money”. Because of that…
2. …have a look at the mentors
Each time there are more and more acceleration programmes that only offer mentoring and services, without funding. “We measure everything we do in our acceleration programme, we are a data driven acceleration programme, and the mentoring services are always the ones which get a higher score”, says Roi. At IMPACT you can find among their pool of mentors successful entrepreneurs, executives from Google, LinkedIn or Lego, and investors.
3. Team, team and team
One of the most common mistakes startups make when applying for acceleration programmes is to not showing their whole potential, focusing on the product and not on the whole company. “Team, team and team” is what startups should spotlight in the application process. “Someone said that it is not about ideas, it is about execution, and the execution relies on the team. So, they must show their capability to make their ideas happen and also that they are a balanced team with all the skills needed to make their enterprise a success”. Roi is speaking about Scott Belsky’s, from Behance, sentence: “It is not about ideas. It is about making ideas happen”.
4. Tailor your pitch for your investor, and rehearse over and over again
“Include all the information the investor wants to hear in your pitch”, advises Roi. There are some standard decks like the one proposed by Dave McClure from 500 startups, “but you must tailor it to your listener. If the investor you are going to pitch prefers that you don’t show any slide, just do it. Moreover, besides the content, another key factor is how you do the pitch, and here there is yet no secret to success, you must rehearse and rehearse until you do it perfect“. He also advises to select a good storyteller, because good storytellers build companies based on the storytelling.
5. Make the most out of the mentoring and training programme focusing on networking
Roi points out that usually startups don’t dedicate enough time to the acceleration programme because they are formed by small teams and they are always very busy. They just do the minimum necessary to get to the next milestone and receive the next payment, and that is a mistake. The acceleration programme gives the startups access to corporates, investors and executives that can be cornerstone to the success of the startups. The startup should make an effort during the acceleration programme to make as much relations as possible and make them last.
6. Define a solid business model
Roi explains that having a good cash flow and defining when it is necessary to look for more investment is key. For that, if the company is looking for private investment, they must have growth always in mind, and if they look for public investment, innovation must be always present.
With respect to the business models, in Europe most of the companies need to define it from the very beginning, but in the USA it is more common that companies rely on growing their users. Anyways, Roi recommends ‘The Business Model Canvas‘ designed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pygneur, “a tool that every entrepreneur should know” and that defines different types of business models: unbundling, multi-sided, free, open and long tail. “Each of them is a world in itself; for example, the long tail is showing its potential in online enterprises like Amazon, Google or Apple, and it was pretty well defined ten years ago by Chris Anderson in his book the ‘Long Tail‘.”
More about Roi
Roi is a telecommunications engineer, and for 10 years he worked as project and programme manager of maintenance and deployment projects of communications networks in Spain, Portugal, Barbados and Brazil, leading teams of up to 240 people and managing income statements of up to 12 million euros a year. But that isn’t it, Roi has experience as entrepreneur, since he established an audiovisual production company in 2010 which was represented in Markets and Co-productions Forums like the European’s Producers Club (EPC) held in Cannes and Locarno or the Production Finance Market at Film London.