Why Accelerators Actually Slow a Company Down – All While Propelling the Company to Success

“Saying no to speed takes courage, and people are more likely to take the plunge knowing they are not alone, that others share the same vision and are taking the same risks.” – Carl Honore from In Praise of Slowness

Every accelerator in the Global Accelerator Network follows a very specific model – one that invites companies to join them for around three months, connects them with 40 to 80 mentors and provides incredible connections to customers and investors. But what’s not talked about publicly is how much accelerators slow a company down – for the good.

Startup companies are moving a mile a minute with limited resources and the lingering threat of failure. Most companies start with some sort of business plan, whether it’s on the back of a napkin, a PowerPoint or some other kind of report. Few look back at that plan as they begin to build their company. Of course, accelerators know this is how startups operate.

What’s not widely known is how much work accelerators do to “reset” companies that go through their programs. In the first week that startups join an accelerator, most companies will complete the Osterwalder Business Model Canvas (or similar) with the help of experienced mentors.  For many startups, this is the first time they’ve slowed down their company in weeks, months or even years to reevaluate who their customers are, which partners to focus on and what activities are important.

After that first week, most accelerators will build upon that foundation and encourage all of their companies to take the time to participate in mentorship for as many as 10 hours a week. For many startup CEOs (who also happen to be developers), it takes this guidance to step away from the computer. Fortunately, I repeatedly hear how this mentorship positively changes the trajectory for companies as mentors have provided invaluable knowledge, connections to customers, and even monetary investments.

As we continue to watch the accelerator industry grow, I’m encouraged by how many accelerators are fostering a new mindset that helps their founders to rebuild and refine their business model, take the time to make connections to strategic mentors, and ultimately accelerate into amazing companies – all because they “slowed” down.

Image used under Creative Commons license via Cuba Gallery.