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4 Common Startup Accelerator Pitfallsby@Outset_Data
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4 Common Startup Accelerator Pitfalls

by OutsetOctober 3rd, 2016
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Just like with any budding industry there are common problems we see time and time again within the startup accelerator community. None of the problems are major, but at <a href="http://www.outset.vc" target="_blank">Outset</a> we believe a few tweaks here and there could help to bolster the industry if they are adopted by the majority. These kinds of issues are typical within new industries as players duck, weave and iterate to sustainability.

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Just like with any budding industry there are common problems we see time and time again within the startup accelerator community. None of the problems are major, but at Outset we believe a few tweaks here and there could help to bolster the industry if they are adopted by the majority. These kinds of issues are typical within new industries as players duck, weave and iterate to sustainability.

Even as I type some of these things, I can see them becoming less common place as accelerators mature.

Too much pitch at the expense of strategic partnerships, or beta testers or revenue or whatever else will really move the needle for companies. When such a strong emphasis is placed on this particular area the rest of the business cannot be developed. Everything you spend time on is a trade off and with the heavy focus on pitching flawlessly, founders cannot spend time on things that will ultimately move make the company viable.

No understanding of where the company truly stands in its current lifecycle. It’s really trying to push the company into a place that they actually don’t need to be at the moment. While this is almost always not intentional I’ve seen it happen. Company A is pursuing a specific avenue, whether it’s development, partnership or whatever because the accelerator needs to show some kind of progress. The company thinks it’s an okay avenue to pursue at the moment, but doesn’t think critically enough about it to realize that it is actually a waste of time and/or money. Again, this is not intentional and it’s often done with the best of intentions, but it can and does impede medium term progress.

No focus within a specific industry. Fund as many startups as possible and hopefully something will stick. Chances are you’re beginning to notice how prevalent industry specific accelerators are becoming. This is no accident. As accelerators focus they are able to build stronger partnerships with industry participants and industry specific investors. The benefit here has yet to be quantified, but it goes without saying when you hone in on a specific industry and spend 100% of your time there the relationships you develop over time will afford your portfolio companies stronger partnerships and more chance of follow on funding. Spray and pray is a short term strategy with lack luster results.

Mentor fatigue on multiple levels makes it hard for all participants to keep up. This comes in multiple forms. Mentors become fatigued from ongoing events and meetings they must attend. Companies become fatigued by bad mentors who constantly copy & paste their ideas. Accelerator operations becomes fatigued by trying to keep up with mentors schedules or making sure mentors are performing or weeding out the bad mentors or making sure the mentors feel appreciate or, or, or. The list seems endless. No doubt mentors can be a great resource for companies, but being who they are makes keeping up with them and closing the surfeit of feedback loops near impossible.

Now the good news. Accelerators these days tend to be pretty self aware and those that aren’t are becoming more self aware. They are being treated more as a business, rather than a club of people funding interesting companies after their day jobs. This ultimately bodes well for the industry as teams really focus in on their metrics, what drives their business and what makes them sustainable so that they can continue to fund companies for the foreseeable future.

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