What are Business Accelerator Programs?

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Anupam Man Chhantyal, June 23, 2017

So what exactly are business accelerators?

Shri Krishna is the founder and CEO of Ausadhi, a platform which facilitates the easy availability of basic healthcare in the most rural parts of least developed countries. With a great idea and a pocketful of dreams, the business he started had a profitable run for a few years. But soon after, the business got stuck in the trench of day-to-day operations, failing to integrate the long-term strategic plan in the development of the business, losing track of its unique value proposition–its identity–during this phase.

Shri Krishna is a fictional character that represents the stories of thousands of businesses around the globe that experience growth and profit in the short run but reach a plateau where they fail to scale up due to several reasons: lack of investment, lack of vision, lack of mentorship, lack of access to resources, etc.

In Nepal, especially, innovators and entrepreneurs are not adequately equipped with skills, knowledge or network to grow their businesses. There are many innovative companies seeking capital as well as eager investors looking for financial returns, and there is a great need of some bridging liaison between them. This is where business accelerators come in, offering a range of support services, funding opportunities and networking opportunities.

Now that we have a broad sense of what accelerator programs are, our natural question is: why or when is it right time for a company to join an Accelerator Program? In other words, what do accelerators help with and why take part in a business accelerator program?

Mentorship

Mentorship is such an important element of entrepreneurship in the western world, no wonder businesses with mentors usually do better than ones without them. Mentors in an accelerator program are usually senior business figures, usually in the same industry as the mentees, who have adequate experience in the business to guide the entrepreneur. The mentors work closely with their mentees over the period of their program to refine their business model, assist  in business decisions and also in some cases help to generate business leads for the mentees.

Investment ready through expert advice

In an economy like Nepal, where the Venture Capital industry is at nascent stage accelerators provide trainings on several topics to ensure the participating businesses are in mint condition to attract investors and undergo a sustainable transformation. After receiving trainings on several business & fundraising topics, entrepreneurs will have the necessary knowledge, skills and business plans to attract investment.

Financing opportunities

At the end of the day, the major objective of an accelerator program is to provide a platform whereby growth stage investment ready companies can receive funding from investors. There are numerous businesses that fail to scale up because of the lack of funding. Accelerators have a wide network of investors who attend various networking events & Demo Day where they try to identify the business with attractive returns and invest in them.   

Real time results

The knowledge from the mentoring & the instruction sessions can be applied to the existing businesses on a real time basis (during the program) and businesses usually benefit tremendously by applying the knowledge gained over the course of the program. Participating companies implement what they learn in the classroom sessions and see tangible results in their business. Additionally all the networking sessions opens door to new business leads for the participating companies.

Networking

Over the course of the accelerator program there are several networking sessions. For young entrepreneurs, these sessions provides an opportunity to receive advice from senior established entrepreneurs and industry experts. The networking events are attended by people from different sectors and the participants get to interact and learn different things. These sessions are excellent opportunities for participants to build business relations and in some case even generate business leads.

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