In this second part on business accelerators, I will focus on real life experience of entrepreneurs that have participated in a business accelerator program. The findings are based on a questionnaire that was given to entrepreneurs participating in a business accelerator, after 2 months of participating in the program.
Although not every participant of the program replied, there was at least one filled questionnaire per startup. Therefore, although the sample is very small (15 entrepreneurs), there is at least one answer from all the startups that are participating to the accelerator.
The entrepreneurs were on average happy with their participation at an accelerator program. The average score on this question is 8/10 and as can be seen from Figure 4 the answers were slightly positively skewed towards the highest values. Only 1 respondent gave a grade of 5, while the majority of the respondents gave a grade of 8 or higher.
One of the most important findings is that seed financing is probably not the main motive / concern of entrepreneurs when participating in an accelerator. Seed financing usually is barely enough to cover living expences and is rated by entrepreneurs as the least important benefit from the ones received from the accelerator. This finding tends to confirm also findings from a similar research, entitled “Copying Y combinator“. Entrepreneurs rated access to a broader network as the most important benefit they received from the accelerator program, giving an average value of 9.07. The next most valuable benefit according to entrepreneurs are the talks they were able to do with the mentors in one on one sessions. During these sessions, the entrepreneur has approximately 30 minutes to engage face to face with a mentor. Of course, these sessions can occur more than once, if both sides want it. The average value entrepreneurs assigned to talks with mentors was 8.3. The “opportunity to accelerate growth” was rated with 8.1 followed by the “potential to receive VC investing” (7.5), “Demo Day” (7.4), “inspiring environment with other entrepreneurs” (7.1) and lastly “seed financing received”.
Particularly important is the result that 79% of the entrepreneurs would definitely recommend an accelerator program to another entrepreneur, while the remaining 21% replied with a “maybe”. There was no entrepreneur who gave a negative response, showing a high support for the accelerator program concept and the value that entrepreneurs assign to it.
Finally, when asked what they liked the least, entrepreneurs listed the distraction from working on their product, the extreme pressure and the limited time period of the program.