One of the most difficult tasks young professionals face when trying to launch their own startup is securing the funding for it. A brilliant idea and perfect team can only go so far without the support of investment to help execute it. Luckily, in today’s world of startups, there are many possible routes to find that extra support.
Applying for an accelerator batch is one way to acquire funding. This table from the Harvard Business Review shows how different institutions supporting startups compare against each other. Accelerators, like other institutions, are designed to help startups grow, regardless of what stage of development they are in.
What is an accelerator batch?
An accelerator batch refers to the group of startups an accelerator accepts in the same period. Like students in the same graduating class, a batch is often referred to as a cohort, composed of startups that will develop and compete alongside each other. Accepting startups in batches is a key feature that makes accelerators unique in form.
Average Time Frame
Another distinguishing feature of accelerators is that they are short-term. One accelerator batch typically lasts for under a year, with many being much shorter. For example, two of the more well-known accelerators, Y Combinator and Techstars, work with each batch for three-month periods. Their focus is on intensity rather than duration.
Accelerators accept startups through an application process. Some may group batches based on specialized themes, only accepting startups that fit into them.
The accelerator Plug and Play, for example, builds their batches based on broad themes such as energy or sustainability. For each application period, they determine their partners’ needs and look for startups that match them.
However, not all accelerators restrict batches in this way. Many will accept any startup they find promising in the same batch, leaving plenty of opportunities open.
Accelerator programs commonly end in a pitch competition of some form. As the accelerators themselves only provide a small quantity of seed funding to startups during the program period, there is still the need to attract more substantial investment. A highlight of being accepted into an accelerator is the guaranteed visibility to investors.
At the end of the program, accelerators will hold something like a “Demo Day.” This gives startups the opportunity to pitch themselves to investors. The mentorship and development process of the accelerator is in preparation for this pitch competition, with the goal of helping startups in the batch secure coveted funding.
The format of accelerators means that startups enter with a fixed graduation date in mind. During their program duration, each batch has access to learning opportunities such as mentorship programs, workshops, and strategy sessions. This helps startups achieve intense growth in a short period.
After batch graduation, startups will have made key steps forward in their own goals. They are prepared to succeed on their own, ideally with the support of more investment to propel them forward.
As an institution, accelerators can be viewed as a university or other learning program, with startups making up their cohorts. Startups in accelerator batches are given the time and space to be fully devoted to their work, surrounded by others with the same purpose. After graduation, teams should be better equipped and a few steps closer to realizing their brilliant idea.