Sunday, 1 November 2020

Two Kinds of Accelerators - Colin Jackson in a Race and Accelerators for Startups

Colin Jackson
Author Ludovic Pern  Licence CC BY-SA 3,o




























Last Tuesday, Emily Roberts of M-SParc interviewed the world champion athlete Colin Jackson over Zoom. I joined the Zoom call because it is not every day that one gets a chance to meet a great athlete.  I had also seen Colin Jackson's Welsh Language Journey of 11 June 2020 which was very impressive. As I have also just started to learn Welsh, I hoped to pick up some hints and tips from him.

Colin delivered an inspiring talk.  Emily gave me the best possible if not the most original advice, namely "ymarfer".  It was endorsed by Colin.  He also unexpectedly prompted another question when he mentioned that he had named his academy "Red Shoes."  I was immediately reminded of the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the Powell and Pressburger film that launched the career of Moira Shearer and the dance drama by Sir Matthew Bourne. Prosaically, Colin said that he had chosen the name because he wore red shoes at his last event before retirement.  I would respectfully invite him to take advantage of the coincidence because dance and athletics have a lot in common.  I think he would find a receptive new market for his services.

Immediately after Colin's interview, we learned of an accelerator programme in North Wales to be delivered by the Excelerator Consortium, a joint venture between The Winning Pitch and Impact Innovation.  Accelerator programmes are officially described as fixed-term, cohort-based programmes, that include mentorship and educational components and culminate in a public pitch event or demo day.  Another way of describing an accelerator is as a cross between The Apprentice and Dragons' Den. Your idea is pinched, pulled and prodded tested to destruction but if it survives you will receive training, mentoring and ultimately funding.

The very first accelerator programme was offered by Y Combinator which, despite the apparently Cambrian definite article, began life, not in Wales but California. The basic idea is set out in About YC:
"In 2005, Y Combinator developed a new model of startup funding. Twice a year they invest a small amount of money in a large number of startups. The startups move to Silicon Valley for 3 months, and the YC partners work closely with each company to get them into the best possible shape and refine their pitch to investors. Each batch culminates in Demo Day, when the startups present their companies to a carefully selected audience of investors. Y Combinator has invested in over 2,000 companies including Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe, Reddit, Instacart, Docker and Gusto. The combined valuation of YC companies is over $100B."

I would urge everyone who is thinking of launching a new business no matter which part of the world in which he or she lives to browse the Y Accelerator website because it contains a wealth of free information.  In particular, I recommend the Startup School which describes itself as "a free online program and global community of founders."

According to The Guardian journalist, Tina Nielsen, Y Combinator's idea spread across the world quickly (see Nielsen Business accelerators: a financial shot in the arm for startups 24 Oct 2013 The Guardian). The first British accelerator was Seedcamp just 2 years later, NESTA (the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) produced an authoritative report on incubators and accelerators for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and a directory in 2017 which I discussed in Business Incubators and Accelerators Directory 20 April 2020 NIPC News.  I also discussed some of the accelerators near my home in  Accelerators and Incubators in the Leeds City Region 22 April 2017 NIPC Yorkshire and Accelerators and Incubators in the Sheffield City Region 24 Aoruk 2017 NIPC Yorkshire,

In 2018 I got the chance to observe a new healthcare accelerator in Bradford which is 15 miles from my home (see Northern Max - a new Healthcare Accelerator in Bradford 12 Jan 2018 NIPC Yorkshire). At the end of the course, I attended its demo day where I met the course mentors (one of whom was a very old friend) and the cohort (see Bradford Healthcare Accelerator Programme comes to an End 26 March 2020 NIPC News).  You will see from NorthernMAX Demo Day 25 March 2028 NIPC Yorkshire that I was impressed.   Accelerator programmes really do seem to work.

There are now a lot of accelerator programmes in the UK and some are likely to be better than others.  I know very little about the Excelerator Consortium programme as I have only one contact in The Winning Pitch and it is a long time since I last heard from him. But the fact that the  Consortium has connections with the Welsh government, Business Wales, some reputable Cardiff professional services firms, financial institutions and universities are good signs.  The case histories on the Excelerator Consortium website look promising.   The programme is well worth checking out.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or accelerators and incubators generally is welcome to call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me message through my contact form.   I wish anyone setting up a business pob lwc.

No comments:

Post a comment

This blog is moderated, If you want to comment, please do so here.