Accelerating Entrepreneurs and Ecosystems: The Seed Accelerator Model

Abstract

Recent years have seen the emergence of a new institutional form in the entrepreneurial ecosystem: the seed accelerator. These fixed-term, cohort-based “boot camps” for start-ups offer educational and mentorship programs for start-up founders, exposing them to a wide variety of mentors, including former entrepreneurs, venture capitalists (VCs), angel investors, and corporate executives, and culminate in a public pitch event, or “demo day,” during which the graduating cohort of start-up companies pitch their businesses to a large group of potential investors. In practice, accelerator programs are a combination of previously distinct services or functions that were each individually costly for an entrepreneur to find and obtain. The accelerator approach has been widely adopted by private groups, public and government efforts, and by corporations. While proliferation of accelerators is clearly evident, with worldwide estimates of 3000+ programs in existence, research on the role and efficacy of these programs has been limited. In this article, I provide an introduction to the accelerator model and summarize recent evidence on its effects on the regional entrepreneurial environment.

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