Accelerators Explained Simply

July 24, 2020 Elevate
Accelerators Explained Simply

Over the past two years, we have been actively telling you about our accelerator program, its benefits and its participants… But have we told you what is an accelerator program? How did they emerge? What is the difference between an accelerator and a university accelerator?

So many questions… But luckily for you, this is just the place to get their answers!

What is an accelerator program?

Deriving its name from the word accelerate, which means to increase in rate, amount, or extent, an accelerator program is a 2–6 month experience that gives startups access to initial capital, mentorship, investors and useful resources in order to help the business become more stable.

Typically, startups that enter accelerators have already passed the early stages of establishing a business, and are looking for support in order to become stronger.

How did accelerator programs start?

The first-ever accelerator program, Y-Combinator, was founded in 2005 in Massachusetts, US. It gave the needed start to world-famous businesses, such as AirBnB, Reddit and Dropbox.

Slowly but steadily, accelerators started to pop up all over the States and eventually made their way to Europe and Asia. Seedcamp, the first European accelerator, is the home of companies like Revolut and Transferwise, and has over 20x return to investors.

Organizations, governments, and universities all over the world have adapted these Western examples as a method to start their own accelerator programs.

How is a university accelerator program different from an accelerator program?

The key difference between the two types of programs is that university accelerators, not surprisingly, are hosted in universities, and the participants are predominantly students who are first-time founders. This specific type of program is shorter, more dynamic, and more closely focused on location and the local market. They still, however, provide the benefits of accelerator programs, like starting capital and mentorship.

The most famous universities worldwide, like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, Oxford and Cambridge, all have their own accelerator programs that aspire to help their students and alumni grow their ideas.

In Bulgaria, corporate and governmental accelerators form the majority. Elevate is the first-ever university accelerator on the Balkans that helps young entrepreneurs start their businesses from scratch.

Is a university accelerator a good idea?

As with everything else in life, it is hard to set in stone whether participating in such a program is a good idea. However, it does hide plenty of benefits.

The biggest reason why it is worth entering into such a program is that it is more or less risk-free. If your business succeeds, that’s great. If it doesn’t, that’s okay, too.

There is a 20% greater chance that a startup will succeed if its founder already has another one behind their back, be it a failed or a successful one. University accelerators are the perfect safe environment to try out, make mistakes, learn from them, and continue from there, regardless of whether you are able to successfully establish a business after the program or not.

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