But if your ecosystem is less than 10 years old, your startup landscape probably consists of a lot of very, very, very early stage companies. These companies are too early to have employees. They’re legitimately too early for funding. So how do we define and measure their progress?
Once a founder is out on the road pitching their business to investors, they often face the harsh reality that the investors are “grading” them based on a set of metrics, milestones, and indicators that help the investor determine if the startup is investable, if it’s a good bet. Meanwhile, the founder has already gone all in — investing all of their time, energy, creativity, and money into their dream.
The world is moving and changing incredibly fast. Someday, we’ll have as many accelerators in the world as there are currently colleges and universities. As we evolve the accelerator model, I believe this is how we’ll train people to create value in an uncertain and ever-changing world. In order to reach that point, we need to think critically about what currently works and doesn’t about the accelerator model. And then we need to ambitiously embrace experimentation and continuous improvement.
One of the things I love most about working in the startup space is the expectation to always level up and to find the next harder challenge after gaining some mastery at the current level. Having been a founder in an accelerator first, building a startup over the past six years, and then transitioning to managing an accelerator for the past two years, I have a unique point of view on the design and implementation of accelerators.
Startupland was once an uncharted business frontier, but we now have our own satirical TV show. This “industry” is developed enough to have more fully-defined concepts that we can all rally around. It’s time we speak a common language for thinking about the very earliest, most nebulous stages of startup formation.
If I asked you right now what your startup needs the most, I bet I could predict how you’d respond – “I need capital”. It’s the way almost every startup founder, at any stage, responds. I hear you, even if I don’t agree. Your startup is really nothing more than a big collection of assumptions around an identified problem and a possible solution. You need a roadmap for working through those assumptions efficiently, so you know you’re in the best position possible for success.