“No individual can win a game by himself.”- Pele
In the current transforming world, it is almost impossible to create a successful company by yourself. You need guidance and support every step of the way, from developing your idea to growing your company and getting your first customer.
In this modern age when entrepreneurs often go with their “gut” more than trusting someone else’s advice, no one has the time to search extensively for a mentor. This has led to the creation of accelerators all over the world, which have all the necessary resources packed into one intense program.
What is an accelerator program?
Startup accelerators are fixed-term programs that work like a workshop. For a fixed term, a startup goes through stress tests, business plan validation, and other such processes to know the ins and outs of the company. The program introduces the founders to world-class mentors, provides relevant connections, mentorship, training, and, eventually, seed investment.
There are many startups that rose to success through such programs. Here are a few.
1. Airbnb - Y Combinator
Initially Air Bed&Breakfast, it is essentially an online marketplace which lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. The company has over 4 million lodging listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries and has facilitated over 260 million check-ins.
After running out of money and food, in November 2008, Chesky and Gebbia (two of the founders) applied to Y Combinator. In January 2009, Airbnb became a part of the YC program and received $20,000 in seed funding.
From 3 people, the company has now grown to 3000 employees with a net revenue of $2.6 billion in 2017.
2. Postmates - Angelpad
Postmates is a logistics company that operates a network of couriers who deliver goods locally. As of October 2015, their website listed more than 100 metropolitan areas.
After opening its application programming interface to merchants in December 2014, in just 6 months, Postmates exceeded 2.5 million deliveries across 28 markets and expanded its fleet to 13,000 couriers.
During the program, Angelpad worked with the founders on everything from finding a product-market fit and defining a target market to getting first validation for the company.
Starting out as a part of the first batch of Angelpad, Postmates has a valuation of $600 million+ and has raised more $278 million to date.
3. DigitalOcean - Techstars
DigitalOcean, Inc. is an American cloud infrastructure provider headquartered in New York City with data centers worldwide. DigitalOcean provides developers cloud services that help to deploy and scale applications that run simultaneously on multiple computers.
Founded on 24 June 2011, by the December of 2015, DigitalOcean was the second largest hosting company in the world in terms of web-facing computers. DigitalOcean got accepted into the Techstars 2012 batch. Techstars contributed $20,000 to the company, which was used as a stipend to support living expenses during the program.
By the end of the accelerator program, the company had signed up 400 customers and launched around 10,000 cloud server instances. Founded by a team of 5 people, DigitalOcean is now a 300-employee company with a revenue of $175 million for the year 2017.
4. CryptoMove - Alchemist
CryptoMove is a decentralized data vault that protects data with dynamic movement, mutation, fragmentation, and re-encryption - with any algorithm, in any environment.
Founded in 2015, the dad-and-son cybersecurity firm was part of the Alchemist accelerator program. With the resources and seed funding received during the program, at the Alchemist demo day in Jan 2017, CryptoMove announced a $1.5 million seed funding from Draper associates VC Fund. By the end of 2017, they closed a $6 million Series A funding round led by Social Capital.
With less than 50 employees, CryptoMove has raised a total funding of $8 million in less than 3 years and a revenue of $1-5 million.
5. Udemy - 500 startups
Udemy is an online learning platform aimed at professional adults. Founded in 2010 by Eren Bali, Oktay Caglar, and Gagan Biyani, the idea failed to impress VCs in Feb 2010. They then bootstrapped the development and officially re-launched Udemy in May 2010. During the 500 Startups seed program, they received an initial seed fund for their operational costs, and were helped in sectors such as mentorship, distribution, fundraising, brand and PR, and working space. They also received access to the 500 Startups family which includes mentors and industry leaders.
After raising $1 million by August 2010, they further raised $3 million in Series A funding led by Groupon, 500 Startups, and MHS capital. As of now, Udemy has had a total funding amount of $173 million and 65,000 online courses.
These examples are just a few of many that clearly show how important an established program is in the journey of building a startup. The competition between startups trying to get into these programs is huge, with the YC acceptance rate close to 1-3%. But if the founders believe in the idea and are determined enough, with the help of these programs, the process of obtaining networks, funds, and customers becomes smoother and profitable.
HackerEarth Startup Connect helps a startup get ready with a solid GTM Strategy and a business plan to grow their business and get the idea to market. There is a plethora of engaging events such as webinars and meetups that can help a budding entrepreneur get the basic ideas and tips on getting his or her startup on track.