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Accelerators as authentic training experiences for nascent entrepreneurs

Abstract

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to address the role of accelerators as authentic learning-based entrepreneurial training programs. Accelerators facilitate the development and assessment of entrepreneurial competencies in nascent entrepreneurs through the process of creating a start-up venture. Survey data from applicants and participants of four start-accelerators are used to explore the linkages between accelerators and the elements of authentic learning. Authentic learning processes are then mapped onto the start-up processes that occur within the accelerators. Findings - Accelerators take in nascent entrepreneurs and work to create start-ups. This activity develops the participants’ entrepreneurial competencies and facilitates authentic self-reflection. This study explores how accelerators can be useful as authentic learning platforms for the development of entrepreneurial competencies. Limitations include perceptual measures and the inability to conduct paired sampling. Entrepreneurship training is studied through the lens of authentic learning activities that occur within an accelerator. Participants develop and assess their mastery of and interest in entrepreneurship through tasks, exposure to experts and mentors, peer learning, and assessments such as pitching to investors at Demo Day. This paper reports on the authentic learning processes and its usefulness in competency development and self-appraisal by accelerators participants. The opportunity for competency development and self-appraisal by nascent entrepreneurs before escalating their commitment to a start-up may be an accelerator’s raison d’être.

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