We all know that being a startup or small business is equally exciting and daunting. Let’s not kid, breaking into a saturated market, being competitive and having the right resources and sufficient funding is not always achievable alone from the get go. With this in mind, accelerator programmes can be of immense value, from both a financial perspective, as well as from a business growth outlook.
So, what exactly is an accelerator? In essence, accelerators support early-stage, growth driven startups through training, mentorship and financial investment.
Seven Legal is over the moon to have been accepted onto Goldman Sachs’ prestigious small business programme – 10,000 Small Businesses. This programme is one of the biggest, global business accelerator initiatives helping small businesses.
Goldman Sachs’ Small Business Programme has been designed to provide both exceptional practical education and business support to entrepreneurial leaders of high-growth small businesses and social enterprises across the UK. In addition, it’s specifically aimed to address the support gap for small enterprises, helping them unlock the economic potential of their business, as they play an important role in contributing to the UK economy and community.
During the 13 week programme, small business leaders across industry sectors are brought together. An invaluable opportunity for unique networking and learning with other founders.
Bill Cogan, Founder of Seven Legal says “we are delighted to be joining the Goldman Sachs Small Business Programme. Having heard first hand; the impact it has had for companies at a similar stage to Seven Legal, it is a great opportunity to put in place a really solid game plan for our next stage of growth.
I’m looking forward to meeting the other founders in our cohort as well as alumni from previous programmes. The learning opportunities both within the curriculum and amongst the cohort is really exciting and the main reason for applying.”
With valuable access to resources and capital, accelerator programmes have become the go-to growth option for small businesses. Over the past decade quite a number of accelerators have exploded into the market, giving small businesses the opportunity to scale up and fasttrack their growth exponentially, whilst learning from the best in the game.A win-win, right?
So, why would a small biz consider joining an accelerator? There are a many benefits, highlighted below:
- Mentorship: Nothing beats expert and peer-to-peer mentoring! It is one of the most valuable and priceless resources, mentors can provide guidance on all topics business related.
- Funding: Once accepted into a cohort, accelerators usually give an injection of capital into your business, in return for equity. Often, there are stipends for your expenses. They also can put you in contact with angel investors and VCs for future funding.
- Community and networking: There is an opportunity to connect with various business networks and like-minded individuals, which can be beneficial for collaboration and growth.
- Office space: An accelerator might sometimes offer access to their office space, which is great especially when a business is getting started. Talk about saving… There is also access to shared resources, amenities and personnel.
- Skill training: Accelerators teach participants the indispensable skills needed to run and grow their business, such as financial management and marketing strategy. They come with years of expertise and professionalism and can tailor their skills and knowledge to best suit your business. Nothing should be too much to ask.
- Exposure: Accelerators give business owners the opportunity to be exposed to potential investors and customers, opening up a whole new stream of prospects who can help grow the business.
It’s all about the right time and right place, right? Finding the right accelerator at the right time in your business’s journey, which offers the right model for your business may seem overwhelming, as there are several elements to think about. Don’t act swiftly, take your time. Factors including the industry they specialise in, the amount of funding they provide, the amount of equity they ask for as well as the time frame and alumni opportunities.
Let’s talk about equity… working with an accelerator, receiving investment and guidance come at a price. It’s no different to any other equity funding, signing an accelerator agreement typically means giving up a slice of your company. But the question to ask yourself – how much are you willing to give away and negotiate (think Dragon’s Den). Generally speaking, accelerators generally take anything between 5% to 10% of your equity in exchange for their expertise.
So, the big question remains? To join hands with an accelerator or do it alone? On the whole, yes, join. Small businesses do indeed need that extra help, from putting you in front of the right people, to mentoring you and giving a capital injection. Absolutely. However, you need to choose carefully so you don’t end up giving away your time and too much equity in exchange for a less valuable offering, or off-the-shelf help.
It’s worth pointing out that checking the investment versus the equity is crucial for all small businesses exploring the accelerator path. Don’t just jump if the capital investment seems larger upfront, check how much is requested from you as a business too. Remember the small print.
Here is a handpicked list of some of the popular accelerators in the UK.
- Startupbootcamp has helped bring 1085 startups to life. They are based in London, and have a global network of 20+ accelerators. Startupbootcamp will offer €15,000 in cash, €500,000+ in partner services and deals and 6-months of free, collaborative office space.
- Founders Factory’s portfolio of 300 startups have raised $720mm follow on capital, with 80 companies designed and launched in theirStudio. They do not define a specific amount when it comes to funding, rather it’s done on a case-by-case basis.
- Seedcamp has provided early-stage and micro-seed funding to more than 650 entrepreneurs from over 150 startups within 28 industries. Since August 2017, Seedcamp-backed companies have raised over $900m in follow-on funding on a $1b valuation.
- Entrepreneur First offers a highly-selective global 3-month programme. Their focus is on mentoring and advising founders and putting them in contact with other entrepreneurs in the cohort to help them find their co-founders. They will invest £80,000 in your business, for 10% equity.
- Techstars has helped bring over 3,500 businesses to life, including Uber. They invest $20,000 in return for 6% equity. They also offer every startup an optional $100k convertible note.
Carbon13 is a very niche accelerator as it works with founders to build startups that can reduce CO₂e emissions by millions of tonnes. They provide the opportunity to build teams, bypass barriers and access expertise and finance to create impactful startups that address the climate emergency. They have programmes running in Cambridge and Berlin, and to date, 32 innovative carbon emissions-mitigating startups launched so far by Carbon13’s Venture Builder for the Climate Emergency.