Being an entrepreneur sucks.
Everyone in earshot of me could easily get a great paying job, enjoy paid vacation, and be able to relax on weekends. Instead we’ve all decided to barely take a paycheck and have resorted to buying beers with loose change we found under the cushions. We’re driven, focused, smart, and just the right amount of insane.
Some might argue we should be institutionalized but instead a bunch of us ended up at an accelerator. Personally, I found a home at GrowLab and couldn’t be happier. They’ll tell you from day 1 that they aren’t going to make you awesome. However, they will help you discover the tools needed to succeed. From great mentors, capital investment, and cool office space what you get from an accelerator is pretty transparent. But in my not-so-humble opinion the best reasons to join an accelerator aren’t listed.
1. The Support Network: There are countless occupations that are highly likely to end up in failure. Go ahead and give acting a shot; chances are you’ll end up waiting tables for the rest of your life but at the very least you’re probably ridiculously good looking. Entrepreneurs are convinced their idea is awesome but it’s refreshing to look around the room and see other people just as addicted to success as you. When you’re having a tough day talking to like minded individuals is invaluable.
2. The Charlyne’s: People flock to accelerators because of the mentors and advisors. Don’t get me wrong they are awesome—but I didn’t know I was getting a Charlyne. She’s the program manager at GrowLab and on a daily basis she’s dealing with 50 to 60 egotistical, neurotic, assholes just like myself. She gets us, understands the stress, and can empathize. The Charlynes know more about being an entrepreneur than you do so just listen and learn.
3. Walk-ins: If you work at home or out of a coffee shop you’re not going to meet the people you should be meeting. The great part of an accelerator is the “smart spillage." Smart spillage is when a smart person walks in to meet with you and after about five minutes you realize its not a fit, but they’d be perfect for another company in your cohart. It goes both ways and some of the most interesting people we met was from smart spillage.
4. Free Office Space: I know “free” may seem like the magic word, but in reality its not. If an accelerator can stick you in a space that’s clean, fun, has a nice kitchen and restrooms take it (coffee shops don’t count – see above). The time suck involved in finding a creative space that is budget friendly, fits your culture, and will grow with your company is really difficult. Spend your early weeks and months building a product not finding an office that you can’t afford.
5. Perks: Most accelerators will make an investment into your company. That’s great and helps support the bottom line. But the perks, most of which weren’t advertised, are what really helped. For example, our accelerator partnered with Emily Carr University and assigned a design intern to our team. He busted his ass and created some really powerful content that we loved. He was a perk but now he’s an employee.
In my opinion any young entrepreneur will benefit from 3-months of successful mentors teaching you how to be a smarter founder. Find one that fits and get excited about those secret reasons that make accelerators awesome.