The ideal accelerator team size

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

Why you need a team for an accelerator

Before you send off an application to any accelerator program, you need to assemble a team. Most accelerators will not allow you to enter their program if it’s just ‘you’ by yourself. You might be thinking, “I don’t need to be a team–I’ve done fairly well so far by myself with my idea.” Perhaps you’re thinking, “This is my idea, I don’t want other people in on it who are going to share in all the money I’m going to make.” Or perhaps you’re thinking, “Why do you have to bring others on board your team to get into an accelerator?” The short answer to these questions is this: most accelerator program decision makers, and all the people you will meet in the future in the world of entrepreneurship and in business, that will help make your company a success are not going to work with you unless ‘you are a team.’ Perhaps you’ve heard the expression ‘many heads are often better than one.’ It has also been argued in the world of startups and entrepreneurship that a team of two to four co-founders have a greater chance of scaling their company, and making a success of it, than that of single co-founder. Although there is compelling evidence that solo founders do equally well or even better -you just need to accept that if you don’t find at least one other person to join you, your odds of getting into an accelerator are drastically reduced.

The final point I want to make about finding a team is to use an analogy of racehorses. Most of the people who will help make your company a success (whether they be mentors in the accelerator program, CEOs of companies you may partner with, or angel Investors of venture capitalists) will ‘back the team’ before they ‘back the idea.’ Or, as the expression goes, they will ‘back the jockey rather than the horse.’ Think of it like this: you could have the best idea in the world, practically guaranteed to make billions, but it is likely no one will back you if you don’t have the right team behind it.These statements above about backing the jockey before the horse might sound ludicrous or fickle to some, but just remember we don’t make the rules here, this is just how it is. You just have to accept this and roll with it from this point on, and get the team right now. If you are attempting to run a small- to medium-sized business, or a lifestyle business in your local area, then perhaps you might do fine by yourself. But if you are looking to get accepted into an accelerator and then have global scalability of your product/service to get to multi - million dollar valuations, and then sell your company or get an exit of your company for multiple millions, then you need a team of two to four co-founders.

The ideal team size

A team must be you and at least one other person as the bare minimum.Teams in accelerators usually have two to four members, often called co-founders, but never more than six. The co-founding team usually assumes the roles of Chief Executive Officer, Chief Technical Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Operating Officer, or a combination of these roles. Any more than six co-founders managing a startup from birth can be too difficult to manage, and accelerator program decision makers usually only look to bring on teams of two to four. Further, splitting equity amongst too many team members can become unattractive to potential investors. Generally speaking, a team of two is ideal to submit a successful accelerator application if one of the team members is a product development person (e.g. developer, designer, engineer) and the other is a management / marketing / business / sales or ‘ideas’ type of person. If you have already found someone to join your team, that’s great. You might want to consider adding a second, third or fourth team member. It is rare for an accelerator to accept only one co-founder into their program, and some may only accept a minimum of three team members. Most accelerators want at least two co-founders to be present for the duration of the accelerator program. And they want real cofounders, not pretend or temporary cofounders. Remember, they are investing a lot of time and money in the startups they select. So they will do their due diligence on your company.

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