This is the first in a series of posts on accelerator program design elements that we think make a successful program. There’s a lot we’ve learned about accelerators (and other innovation program models) through working with our clients over the last four years, and it just made a lot of sense to share. We will use our work in designing and implementing the AT&T Aspire Accelerator as a model for these posts.
The program runs four times a year and accepts less than 3% of applicants, so technically it’s harder to get into 500 Startups than an Ivy league college. Its also been named a top-tier accelerator in numerous studies, including one by the Kauffman Foundation that came out this week. 500’s managing partners are now opening the playbook and will be sharing how they achieved this feat in only six years of operation.
There’s a tension between what accelerators want the entrepreneurs to do versus what entrepreneurs want to do. This often manifests as a time problem. Take for example when accelerators require their startups to participate in events or workshops; what an accelerator thinks is best for their entrepreneurs may conflict with what an entrepreneur thinks is best for herself or himself