Recently, the Accelerator expanded our program offering from one, 5-month immersive program into three separate components, Iterate, Accelerate, and Launch. Our new, modular programming design allows our clients to better understand their market opportunities and take advantage of the module that offers the next best step for their venture.
Our pre-accelerator program, started last May and refined in November, is called “Iterate.” This successful four-week program is focused on problem/solution fit. In fact, this program is in such high demand that our last program was oversubscribed. We can currently accommodate only 25 teams.
Our second program is a shortened version of our former 5-month program. This new program is called “Accelerate.” Accelerate is a two-month program focused on product/market fit. We use the Business Model Canvas and customer development methodology for this program. Getting the product/market fit right was often the most difficult task for our clients, and thus, a good place to pause and reflect.
Our newest offering is “Launch!” The focus of this program is to create an operational company and develop a repeatable selling mode. In Launch, we focus on the critical left-hand side of the Business Model Canvas. An outline of the program is located on our website under Launch. Links to Iterate and Accelerate are also located there as well.
In developing Launch we turned to our trusted advisors, mentors, alumni and friends to provide input and feedback to assist us in creating this new program. We have many detailed aspects of the program already in mind, but we have asked our advisors to add, delete, and help us find the missing ingredient to better assist our next cohort. This is truly a collaborative effort.
Our goal is to design a groundbreaking program based on the collective wisdom of all of us. In the first round, we requested respondents to use as much detail or as few words as you wish. We indicated that we would be happy to meet or talk with you and learn more about your thoughts. We were not particular about the form of the advice. Email responses work, too. We were focused principally on content.
The first round process is simple. We start with a very broad base of questions. We also provided the opportunity to opt out.
We anticipate a second round of questions that enables us to collate and narrow the groupthink. At some point after this, we will adopt a ranking system. We will ask that respondents categorize items by importance, or make suggestions to drop aspects that while thoughtful, may not be a fit for our goals.
We seek the broad picture. The Launch part of the program is focused on becoming operational. At this point, only companies that have a valid product/market fit, an MVP and some component of a team will be admitted to “Launch!” The program will be conducted over 5 months.
Some of the monthly topics we are tossing around include strategic partnerships; managing growth, burn rates, and proformas. We are also considering administrative functions such as legal and transactional issues, human resources, and accounting and record keeping. We are also deliberating on operations and value chains as suggested topics.
Here are some of the questions that we would like for you to ponder:
- What general topics should govern those five months? Any ideas on the specific subtopics?
- What three things do you wish you learned prior to starting your own venture or helping others get started?
- What three things do you wish you knew while or before scaling this enterprise?
- What were the biggest unforeseen obstacles or challenges that needed to be overcome?
As I write this, a few responses have arrived. As expected, building teams was a leading response. A few early indications included soft skills such as negotiation and hiring techniques, culture building and selling skills.
There will be more to come as we continue through this process.