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Getting into an accelerator is increasingly difficult. While there has been a proliferation accelerators around the world, there has simultaneously been a dramatically increasing number of companies applying to accelerators. In my world, supply and demand never balances out, so if you are on the application side of this equation, it’s important to do everything you can to improve your chances.
UP Global, an organization that I’m on the board of which is the umbrella organization for Startup Weekend, Startup Education, Startup Digest, and Startup Week, has just rolled out a new program called Startup Next. I participated in an early version of it and am psyched to see it ready for prime time.
Startup Next is a five week program that acts as a “pre-accelerator” – something between a Startup Weekend and a Techstars. Over the five weeks, there is a weekly three hour session. Through a structured approach of group discussions, mentor sessions, and weekly pre-work deliverables, startups walk away with the skills needed to validate your business idea, a clear understanding of your customer development strategy, a completed market and competitive analysis, a MVP and, an investor ready pitch deck.
Once the five weeks are over, the best teams get to present their companies to the heads of various accelerators. This is being done in partnership with the Global Accelerator Network which is a network of over 50 of the top accelerators in the world.
The accelerator route is not for every entrepreneur, as there are as many different paths to building a startup. But if you want to go through an accelerator, it helps to stack the deck in your favor and I think pre-accelerator programs like Startup Next can be really valuable, not only in helping you fine tune your business, but getting you broad exposure to some of the best accelerators in the world.
I’m excited to see my friends at UP Global and the Global Accelerator Network teaming up on this. And look for some magic accelerator stuff from FG Press coming in July.
I got asked today for a picture of the four founders of Techstars together (me, David Cohen, David Brown, and Jared Polis.) I did a search and came up with a few, but also stumbled upon this beauty. This is the original promotion video for the first Techstars program, filmed at the end of 2006 and apparently uploaded to Youtube on January 14, 2007.
Following are my comments on the video.
- Look how young David Cohen looks.
- Notice all the excellent red and white fonts.
- Danny Newman needs a haircut.
- Jared Polis wasn’t yet a congressman.
- Our Donkey Kong machine worked.
- Foundry Group wasn’t yet started.
- Our office (and the film) was done in our old office in Superior.
- I hadn’t started wearing Robert Graham shirts yet.
- My Treadputer v1.0 was up and running.
- David Brown looks exactly like he does today.
- We didn’t have the .com domain yet.
It used to be hard to find historical artifacts like this. They lived in an attic or a basement and were covered by dust. The web is just amazing.
In the #GiveFirst spirit, Techstars supports those who have served our country by hosting Patriot Boot Camp. PBC is an intense three-day program that educates and mentors active service members, Veterans and their spouses to innovate, build technology companies, and create jobs. Essentially, they get a mini Techstars experience.
The next PBC will be held at the Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York City from May 16th to 18th. You can learn more about the program at their website or check out this video from last year’s event.
Patriot Boot Camp alumni are building great business. A couple great examples are Dave Cass and Dave Parker with Uvize (accepted into the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, powered by Techstars and recently funded by FG Angels), and Gregory Coleman with Nexercise (accepted to the Techstars Chicago).
Do you know a Veteran, active service member, or military spouse who could benefit from a miniature Techstars experience? Please encourage them to apply here. The deadline to apply is April 4th, 2014, tonight, at midnight Eastern time.
If you are interested in learning about Venture Deals, my partner Jason Mendelson and I created a course with the Kauffman Fellows Academy on NovoEd which is running for the first time from 3/31/14 – 5/19/14. The course will demystify venture capital deals and startup financings and give both first-time and experienced entrepreneurs a definitive guide to secure funding. Both Jason and I will be participating in the course. If you want to sign up for the course, use the discount code of “ventureds” to get 20% off the price.
Mid-day yesterday I did a 30 minute fly by for the new Techstars NY class. Alex Iskold, the new Techstars New York Managing Director asked me to talk about “Top Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make.” It morphed into a fun 30 minute rant about a bunch of things that I thought Techstars founders should make sure they pay attention to during the program, and in life in general.
Reflecting on the talk, the most important thing I said was “Do One Thing For Yourself Every Day.” It can be 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. If you like chocolate ice cream, find an ice cream place and go get a scoop every day. If you do yoga, do it every day. If you like to go to the gym, go to the gym. If you are a reader, spend 30 minutes a day with a book. If you are a BSG fan, start at the beginning and watch all four seasons one episode per day (they each last about 45 minutes.) But be selfish and do one thing for yourself each day during the program.
Afterwards, Alex sent me an graphic that one of the founders at Hullabalu did. I thought it was awesome and captured some of the highlights, including “don’t believe your own bullshit”, something a lot of people are forgetting right now. And I described my favorite long distance relationship trick – the magic post card a day maneuver.
My favorite entrepreneurial quote is Do Or Do Not, There is No Try. So it’s especially delightful to be able to announce the Disney Accelerator, powered by Techstars, and based in Los Angeles.
David Cohen’s (Techstars CEO) post Announcing Disney Accelerator has more details about how it works, but the gang at Disney that has engaged on this is pretty awesome and goes all the way to the top with Chairman / CEO Bob Iger.
It’s also Techstars first program in Los Angeles. We collectively love LA and have worked with a lot of folks to help with the startup community there. We hope the Disney Accelerator will be another great addition to the ecosystem there.
In the mean time, just remember what Yoda says.