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Authors: Richard Busulwa, Naomi Birdthistle, Steve Dunn

The must – read guidebook for entrepreneurs looking to get into accelerator programs and to build and scale their startups with speed

Published by Wiley and available at:


Startup Accelerators: A Field Guide 

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Accelerator programs have become one of the most powerful and valuable resources for entrepreneurs seeking to learn rapidly, build powerful networks, raise capital, build their startups and do this at speed and scale. In recent years, the number of accelerator programs around the world has grown at an incredible rate, propelling startups such as AirBnB, Uber, DropBox, Reddit, and others — many to billion-dollar valuations.


The number of accelerators, the differences in accelerator program offerings and the unique benefits and costs of different accelerator locations makes choosing the right accelerator a challenge. Selecting the wrong accelerator, failing to be accepted in the right one, or not fully taking advantage of all the accelerator has to offer can be costly, sometimes fatal. With the stakes so high, entrepreneurs need to understand all their options, choose carefully and do the right things to maximize their chances of success.

Startup Accelerators is the go to guide for any entrepreneur, providing a firsthand look into the acceptance criteria and inner workings of different accelerator programs. Written by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, this indispensable resource explains what different accelerator programs offer, how to get accepted, what to do during the program, how to raise money during accelerators, what to do after the program ends, and much more. Packed with real-world case studies and advice from leading experts on startup accelerator programs, this one-stop resource provides step-by-step guidance on the entire accelerator process.

  • Reveals how accelerators help founders navigate different challenges in the startup journey

  • Describes the differences in the benefits and costs of different accelerator programs

  • Explains how to prepare accelerator applications

  • Discloses what actions to take during an accelerator to make the most of it

  • Depicts case studies of entrepreneurs’ accelerator applications, experiences and outcomes across different accelerators

  • Features interviews with accelerator program managers, founders who went through accelerators, and investors in companies going through or having gone through accelerators

  • Includes insightful data and reflections from entrepreneurship education researchers and academics

Startup Accelerators: A Field Guide will prove to be invaluable for startup founders considering or going through accelerators, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, educators, and other startup accelerator stakeholders.


About the Authors


About the Website



Chapter 1 The Emergence of Startup Accelerators






Chapter 2 What Happens in an Accelerator

Accelerator Programs

Accelerator Curriculums

Accelerator Coworking Spaces

Accelerator Mentors        

Accelerator Program Managers

Accelerator Weekly Check - In Sessions

Accelerator Advisors

Demo Day

Case Study 1: LEAPIN Digital Keys and the H-Farm Deutsche Bank IoT Accelerator Program (Italy)

Chapter 3 Is Your Startup Ready for An Accelerator

What it Takes to Get into an Accelerator

Accelerator Acceptance Criteria

Common Accelerator Turnoffs

When are you Ready for an Accelerator?

Can you be too Early or too Late for an Accelerator?

What if you are not Ready?

Case Study 2: BroZone Inc and the Founders Frontier Accelerator* [USA]

Chapter 4 How to Prepare the Accelerator Application

Accelerator Acceptance Criteria vs. The Accelerator Application

The Accelerator Application Process

The Accelerator Application Questionnaire

Company Overview Section

The Founders / Team Section

The Product / Idea Section

The Progress / Traction Section

The Equity Section

Other Common Accelerator Specific Criterion

How Accelerator Applications are Evaluated

Case Study 3: LEAPIN Digital Keys’ Journey Through 3 Different Accelerator Applications [Italy, USA and Germany]

Chapter 5 How to Handle the Accelerator Interview

What is an Accelerator Interview and Why is it Important?

The Interview Process and Interview Questions

Accelerator Interview Questions

What can go Wrong in the Accelerator Interview?

Common Tips and Traps

Case Study 4: Listen Notes’ Y Combinator Interview [USA]

Chapter 6 Should you Give up Equity to Get into an Accelerator

Equity as a prerequisite to Getting into an Accelerator

What else Founders Give up in Accelerator Term Sheets

Key Elements of Accelerator Term Sheets

Types of Securities (or Types of Shares)


Anti-Dilution Provisions

Founder Vesting

Liquidation Preference

Voting Rights


Board of Directors

Veto Rights or Protective Provisions

Negotiating Accelerator Term Sheets

Case Study 5: Impact of Signing Multiple Accelerator Agreements on a Startup’s capital raising rounds

Chapter 7 Choosing an Accelerator Program

Significance of the Decision to Participate in or Forego Accelerator Programs

Significance of the Accelerator Choice Decision

What makes choosing an Accelerator so Challenging?

What makes good accelerator?

What makes an Accelerator Right for a Startup?

How to Choose the Right Accelerator

Case Study 6: An Unexpected Accelerator Experience

Chapter 8 How to Get the Most out of an Accelerator

Plan Ahead

Clarify Priorities and Plan your Time

Show that you are committed

Go Fast

Get Customer Discovery and Customer Validation Right

Get Strategy Right

Get Legal Right

Get Investment Ready or Raise Investment

Perfect your pitching, storytelling and business communication

Building your Network within the Network

Resolve any difficult issues

Maximize Learning

Case Study 7: One Co-founder’s Approach to Making the Most of the Techstars Accelerator Experience

Chapter 9 What to Expect After the Accelerator Ends

What Happens After the Accelerator Ends?

The need to maintain momentum

What to do After the Accelerator

Appendices: Founder Resource Directory

Founder Accelerator Experience Reflections

Founder Reflection #1 [Oceania]

Founder Reflection #2 [Europe]

Founder Reflection #3 [Asia, Europe]

Additional Founder Reflections [USA]

Accelerator Program Manager and Entrepreneurship Educator Reflections

Accelerator Program Manager Reflection #1

Accelerator Program Manager Reflection #2

Entrepreneurship Educator Reflection #1

Entrepreneurship Educator Reflection #2

Resources to Help Founders Choose the Right Accelerator

Resources to Help Founders Prepare Accelerator Applications and Plan for the Start of an Accelerator

Resources to Help Founders Navigate Key Stages of the Accelerator Experience

Examples of Leading Accelerators Globally by Region



  • Hardcover: 352 pages

  • Publisher: Wiley; 2 edition (Available; January 29, 2020)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1119638593

  • ISBN-13: 978-1119638599


About the Authors

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RICHARD BUSULWA (PhD, MBA, M.Innov) is a researcher in the Business School at  Swinburne University of Technology, home to the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship. His entrepreneurship research focuses on startup evolution, entrepreneurial learning, entrepreneurial well-being and strategy for startups. He is co- author of Strategy Execution and Complexity: Thriving in the Era of Disruption. Richard is a startup co-founder and seed investor in cloud, IoT, Ai, blockchain, property and niche professional service firms.

Click here for more about Richard Busulwa

Email: richard@accelerators.guide

AProf Naomi Birdthistle 2018.jpg

NAOMI BIRDTHISTLE (PhD, MBS., B.A (Hons)) is Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation at Griffith University and is a visiting academic to Aalto University-Mikkeli campus. Naomi has published research on entrepreneurship education, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and family business management issues. Her research has received numerous awards including Emerald Literati awards, a best Doctoral Dissertation Award from the Family Firm Institute, and the Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) best paper in a conference track. Naomi has run her own consulting business and has worked in her family business in Ireland.

Click here for more about Naomi Birdthistle

Email: naomi@accelerators.guide


STEVE DUNN (MBA, B.A.) is CEO and cofounder 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, USA 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.

Click here for more about Steve Dunn

Email: steve@accelerators.guide

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Reviews for Startup Accelerators

"This book provides insight into what an accelerator is, how it can help your startup, and how you get into one. It helps to demystify the process and answers many lingering questions a young startup entrepreneur may have. A good read for sure!"
―Jindou Lee, 500 Startups Accelerator Alumni; Co-Founder, HappyCo

"Accelerators are a proven model for accelerating startup development―this book guides the startup all the way from accelerator application right through to demo day and helping raise funding after the program has finished."
―Al Pappas, Accelerator Mentor; Former CIO, Adobe Inc.

"Nicely structured, balancing the theoretical and practical with real world examples from the co-author. As a business person who experienced a start-up in an accelerator in their earliest days, and also as a mentor, I firmly recommended this as a condensed guidebook to the process."
―Paul Cummins LL B (Hons), Lawyer; Startup Mentor

"If you're weighing up the options for yourself, or just need a comprehensive breakdown of how accelerators work, this is the book for you".
―Murray Galbraith, Head of Innovation, Cohort; Entrepreneur in Residence, Gold Coast (AUS) Health and Knowledge Precinct