It takes numerous people to make the Accelerate Baltimore program run as successfully as it does every year. The program wouldn’t be what it is without the Accelerate Baltimore mentors. Here are some wise words of wisdom from two mentors, Margaret Roth, CXO of Yet Analytics, and Yair Flicker, CEO of SmartLogic.
As a founder, what's the benefit of an accelerator program?
Margaret Roth: As a founder, the biggest thing that you can take away from an accelerator program is a network of peers, supporters, and mentors that would be very difficult to generate on your own. Accelerators mean that you no longer have to work in isolation, you can't get lost in your own thoughts, or waste time chasing things that won't lead anywhere — because you'll have direct access to people who have done this before and you can, should you be humble enough to listen, learn from their mistakes.
Yair Flicker: An accelerator program provides a few important benefits:
It's a crash course in running a business. Acceleratees will learn about the different areas critical to running a business — areas ranging from HR to marketing to sales to legal to ops to technology, etc. It's nice to have a program that provides education in these important areas. The net effect being that your path from Point A to Point B is — well, accelerated because you'll learn from subject matter experts.
Your cohort will consist of people with similar ambitions. That is, people starting businesses. The benefit of being in a community of like-minded individuals can't be overstated! You'll learn and grow together and support each other on your respective journeys.
You'll avail of free visibility/promotion and increased access to funding, partners, and other resources. Accelerators have their own brands, connections, and budgets. An accelerator succeeds when its acceleratees succeed and hit their milestones.
Why are you a mentor for the Accelerate Baltimore program?
MR: I'm a mentor for Accelerate Baltimore because I know that our team would not be where we are today if we had not had the support of the ETC standing behind us in our first years. Building a company is relentlessly hard. The work never stops. The ideas always get better. Being an Accelerate Baltimore mentor is a way for me to give back to the community and help newly minted entrepreneurs achieve their first wins.
YF: I like seeing people and companies in my community develop and grow. To the extent to which I'm able to use my experience to make that happen, I am happy to do so.
What advice would you give an Accelerate Baltimore applicant?
MR: Make your list. What are you willing to risk? What are you willing to commit? If you're not sure where to start, you might not be ready for an accelerator. If your list is EVERYTHING, you're ready to take the leap. Accelerators are not for ideas. Accelerate Baltimore is for people that are ready to do business.
YF: Have friends and family review your application before you submit it. Try find the right balance between being unwaveringly focused on your current vision vs. bending your idea based on the feedback of others. There is a spectrum between being resolute vs. wavering in your idea. It's your company and your idea and so you should trust your instincts, but at the same time, (and speaking only from my experience) it's important to accept and process input from others so I can more quickly get to my destination.