Fair question. With government and corporate funding providing support for many accelerators, it’s good business to assess the effectiveness of these programs.
Wavefront’s Accelerator programs have provided support to hundreds of startups over the past 10 years. We frequently measure the economic impact of our programs, which third parties describe as “significant”.
We suggest 5 questions to determine whether accelerators work.
1) Are sustainable businesses being created?
Many founders fall in love with their technology and start looking for a market for their product. Wavefront’s Venture Acceleration Program focuses on product-market fit and shifts the focus to solving a pain point. Sometimes this means entrepreneurs accelerate to failure, but that experience often sets them up for future success. The emphasis must always be on creating businesses that can scale and offer customers an innovative solution.
“Wavefront turned me from an academic with an exciting idea to an entrepreneur with a product ready to sell.” – Saber Miresmailli, Founder & CEO, Ecoation Innovative Solutions Inc.
2) Are startups accessing opportunities beyond Canada?
Entrepreneurs will find abundant market opportunities in Canada or even North America, but to achieve exponential growth, they usually need to tap global market opportunities. It is crucial to have the right support to help you target the most appropriate markets and make valuable connections.
“The Global Market Entry trip definitely delivered what we were hoping for. We couldn’t get a better segue-way into the market.” – Steve Burton, CEO & Founder, ICICLE Technologies
3) Are founders able to transform themselves into CEOs?
Gaining traction is important, but accelerator programs must equip founders to manage their growing company and show effective leadership. Programs like Discovery Foundation’s RevUP help founders achieve rapid growth – and make the leap to the CEO role.
“The Wavefront RevUP program offered a whole new level of support around sales, marketing and investment. Wavefront has definitely stacked the odds of success in our favour.” – Dale Dubberly, CEO & Founder, Drive
4) Does the program include one-on-one mentorship?
When a fellow entrepreneur with relevant experience and expertise is matched with a startup, this is where acceleration can happen. An ongoing relationship means the mentor will hold the founder accountable to deliver certain results or complete specific activities. No excuses, no delays. Let’s get this business launched!
“I cannot speak highly enough of the effect RevUP has had on us. The experience gained from the mentors was second to none.” – Todd McCann, CEO, CamDo Solutions Inc.
5) How do participants rate the programs?
This is perhaps the best evidence for the efficacy of accelerator programs. Wavefront regularly canvasses founders who take part in our Venture Acceleration Program, National Entrepreneurship Program and RevUP. We listen. We tweak. And we work hard to ensure that yes, our accelerator programs really do work.
“Working with Wavefront really helped us discover our potential. We were set on a path to build a successful business.” – Jin Fan, Founder & CEO of ClearLED