Entrepreneur

Startups, it’s OK to be promiscuous when it comes to accelerators

This is a guest post by entrepreneur Agu De Marco

In the international startup world, there are numerous options when it comes to accelerators.

Those options are even greater if you have a solid idea, strong team, and a sound execution plan. Being a startup from Argentina, our team could also choose between any number of international programs.

After being invited to TechCrunch Disrupt last October, our Wideo team toured the 500 Startups offices. We joined Dave McClure outside for a smoke, and chatted to him about gaining entry to the Fall class of 500 Startups accelerator program.

It was a fantastic opportunity, but we also realized that our team was about to split up. While I relocated to Mountain View, Calif. alone, the rest of the team remained at home in Argentina.

Fast forward eight months, and we reunited to take part in the NXTP Labs accelerator program in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The biggest question we get now is, “why are you joining NXTP after 500 Startups?” Followed by, “would you do another accelerator?” It really got me thinking about whether it’s a good idea or a mistake to participate in more than one accelerator program.

What are the cons?

The most obvious is the loss of equity. As you enter each accelerator, you give up part of your equity. Logic follows that the more accelerator programs you enter, the more of your company you’re forced to give up.

Depending on your negotiations, this can be a huge loss for your company or a non-issue.

Another con is that you may simply be repeating what you already learned.  Though each acceleration program is different, you might just end up wasting your time. Consider whether this program is offering something that you don’t already know. Ask yourself what you can really stand to gain.

Finally, you may end up delaying your product launch. Is this a big deal?  It’s hard to say, but it could prove detrimental if a competitor launches before you.  In the startup world, there is always a risk of someone getting ahead of you on an idea. The “first mover” advantage is very real.

And the pros?

The biggest pro is the mentors; the people who help you along in the startup process are such talented, intellectual individuals that you can’t walk away without learning something from each one.  The connections you make at an accelerator are simply unmatched in the real ‘non-accelerated’ world.

If you participate in global accelerators, you have a better handle on your market.  Our market is English and Spanish speakers, so we did one of each.  Our market is thoroughly tapped in both the US and Argentina, simply because of our efforts in the accelerator programs.  The awareness of your brand grows when you go global.

Third, sometimes, but not always, validation comes from certain acceleration programs.  We’re a 500 Startups startup and that means a lot, especially since we were one of the first Argentine startups to be accepted.

Would we do a third accelerator?

Maybe. I honestly can’t say no because we might discover that our major market is in Brazil.  We can’t say we wouldn’t like to take advantage of an accelerator program there.

When we entered 500 Startups, our product hadn’t even launched yet.  That program taught us about our market, how to launch, and gave us contacts that we really appreciate. However, we lost focus and our team was separated.

Entering NXTP Labs, we have a strong product that we can actually accelerate, so the decision was relatively easy. We are taking advantage of where we are in product development and what each accelerator has to offer.

Participating in more than one accelerator may not be for every new startup; for us, we just try to make the best decisions at the time for our company.

foto agu abril 2013 chicaAgu De Marco is the founder of Wideo.co, a tool to make cool videos. Wideo participated in 500 Startups in the Fall class (one of the first two Argentine startups to be accepted), and will begin NXTP’s program this Spring.  


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