RELEASE New research provides a “closer look” into startup accelerator programs around the world

Hoboken NJ (Feb 2020) - Startup Accelerators: A Field Guide (Published by Wiley, January 2020 Hardcover $40.00 | 368 Pages ISBN: 9781119638599) is a new one-stop guide to the inner workings of startup accelerators, packed with insightful data, real-life case studies and reflections of startup founders, accelerator program managers, accelerator investors, and entrepreneurship educators. Authors: Associate Professor Dr Naomi Birdthistle, Dr Richard Busulwa and Steve Dunn.

Accelerator programs have exploded around the world as the new startup growth institution, spawning successes such as AirBnB, DropBox, Reddit, Stripe, Zenefits, Uber and Pillpack, - many to billion-dollar valuations.

More than 6 million entrepreneurs start a new business in the United States every year, but for every Airbnb, Uber or Reddit, a staggering number of startups don’t “make it”. Up to 20% of startups don’t survive the first year alone. Up to 50% are no longer alive by year 5, and up to 90% ultimately fail. Startup accelerator programs aim to help startups circumvent the different challenges, dilemmas, and pitfalls at different stages of the startup journey - improving their odds of ‘making it’.

Accelerators compress years’ worth of learning by doing insights into rapid, intense and immersive learning programs of approximately three to six months. Accelerators also introduce startups to powerful networks of customers, partners and investors – for example Airbnb graduated from the Y Combinator Accelerator in 2009 with their first seed investment of $600,000 from one of the VC firms (Sequoia Capital) associated with the program. Now Airbnb is valued at $31 billion and preparing for the most anticipated IPO of 2020.

When co-author and startup co-founder, Steve Dunn first stayed in an Airbnb whilst travelling around Europe on a shoestring budget in 2013, he wanted to learn more about how three guys from San Francisco took their idea of ‘laying down a couple of air mattresses in their apartment for cheap rent’, through a startup accelerator, and into a $31-billion-dollar empire.

After Steve returned home to Australia from his overseas trip, he began sending off applications to accelerators in the USA, hoping to get into a program and land a large investment deal to get his startup off the ground just like Airbnb and many other startups had done before him. Steve’s startup soon got accepted into the 10Xelerator program run out of the Ohio State University (USA) and he relocated to Columbus for the three-month program to begin perfecting his product and to prepare his startup for investment.

But Steve’s startup didn’t raise an investment from the program, and so he returned to his family in Australia with no money but he learned a lot during the process. In hindsight, Steve realised he entered the accelerator unprepared. He began researching about different accelerator offerings, networks and acceptance criteria and then teamed up with his co-founder/co-author, Dr Richard Busulwa, and University researcher Professor Dr Naomi Birdthistle, to compile their findings into a guidebook that was just published by leading academic publisher Wiley, combining entrepreneur, investor and academic views of accelerators.

“After we wrote the book, I realized we were nowhere near ready to take our startup to the next level in the first US-based accelerator”, Steve said, “I had no idea what I was getting myself into, there is a lot to know and do BEFORE getting into the right accelerator and even more to make the most of it”.

Steve said he hopes the book demystifies the end-to-end accelerator experience for aspiring entrepreneurs, innovators, and startup founders and helps them make the most of this new startup growth institution like AirBnB did.

About the Book

Available at Wiley publishers here

Read Sample chapters at Amazon here

For images, author headshots, and more information see Author’s webpage here


For questions about the research, comments on the findings, introductions to industry experts featured in the book, for author interviews, or to request a review copy please contact:

Steve Dunn, Co-Author

Tel: +1 917 722 5969


About the Authors:

Dr Naomi Birdthistle (PhD, MSc, BA) is an associate professor of entrepreneurship at Griffith University and visiting professor at Aalto University. Her research has received numerous awards including Emerald Literati, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) and Ireland’s Network of Teachers and Researchers of Entrepreneurship (INTRE) awards.

Dr Richard Busulwa (PhD, MBA, MInnov) is a researcher in the Business School at Swinburne University of Technology, home to the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship. Richard is a startup co-founder and seed investor in cloud, IoT, AI, blockchain, property, and niche professional service firms.

Steve Dunn (MBA, BA) is CEO and co-founder of LEAPIN Digital Keys, a startup that delivers NB IoT smart access control solutions. Since its founding, Steve has led the startup through a number of different accelerators within Asia Pacific, the United States, and Europe. He has also led the startup through several iterations and pivots with a variety of IoT technologies, to finally find product/market fit. Steve is a mentor and coach in university-based accelerators and incubators.

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