Starting a new business introduces several challenges. With growing competition and a rise in digital technology, a brilliant idea is no longer enough to disrupt markets and guarantee success. New entrepreneurs need access to capital, mentoring and resources in order to make their mark in their chosen sector. Put simply, accelerators are there to prevent start-ups from early failure.
Accelerators are organisations that offer support services and funding opportunities for start-ups. They enrol start-ups in programmes that offer mentoring, office space and resources. More importantly, business accelerator programmes offer access to capital and investment, in return for start-up equity. These accelerator programmes usually last around three or four months, meaning projects are often very intensive.
Accelerators can be very similar to co-working spaces.The first contact point for visitors coming to many accelerators is an open space full of start-ups that can interact with each other.
It’s worth noting that most business accelerators will expect to take some equity from your business — this is usually up to a maximum of 10%. However, many will use this to provide your business with courses on growth and fundraising, designed to accelerate your existing development.
UK business accelerators
Seedcamp’s focus is on Europe, but they are open to founders and companies all over the world. They usually look to invest in companies in a prototype or pre-revenue stage and are often the lead investor. Funding: £100,000 for 7.5% for pre-seed investment.
Startupbootcamp FinTech are a service focused accelerator programme looking for companies innovating in blockchain, mobile security and SME finance solutions.
Funding: €15,000 for 6–8% in equity.
Start-up: Enterprise Bot
The Sirius Programme is a government-backed accelerator programme which supports graduate entrepreneurs from across the globe to relocate their businesses to the UK. Funding: £35,000 in cash and £20,000 in services in exchange for 10% equity.
TechStars is one of the world’s most successful accelerators. Their London base is open to all kinds of digital technology, and usually focuses on early-stage deep-tech or other sector start-ups.
Funding: €15,000 with an optional convertible note of €70,000 (the first sum in exchange for between 6 and 10% equity).
Emerge Education is an accelerator for the education industry. Alongside investment, they will provide up to three desks free of charge at Edspace in Hackney in London. It is not necessary to provide a business plan — you just need to fill in their online application form.
Funding: £40,000–100,000 (3–8% equity taken)
Irish business accelerators
Based in Cork, the Sprint accelerator programme is aimed at early-stage businesses, entrepreneurs and UCC-based researchers. They have attracted businesses from various areas, including MedTech, nutrition and I.T.
Start-up: Skellig Surgical
Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund is designed to accelerate growth of businesses with the potential to succeed globally. The programme helps businesses achieve significant milestones in development, including producing prototypes and acquiring venture capital.
Propellor Venture Accelerator http://ryanacademy.ie
The Ryan Academy is a collaboration between Dublin City University and the family of Ryanair founder, Tony Ryan. They offer a range of programmes, including the Propellor Venture Accelerator. This is aimed at early-stage technology firms, and provides mentors, development plans and €45k in exchange for 7.5% equity.