Applying for an accelerator program is a major decision for any company in its early years. For CoachUp, it was the right decision, and we learned a lot along the way. We launched CoachUp in 2012 and successfully went through two incubators/accelerators that same year in Boston: MassChallenge and Techstars (Boston). But as with any business decision, there were distinct pros and cons.
- The network effect: The most obvious benefit of an incubator program is the network of people that you connect with. The network effect is incredible. You’re connected not only to mentors and advisors, but former alumni companies. When we started to scale our dev team up, and we hit points where didn’t have in-house expertise, it was easy to ask our Techstars network for help. We mentioned the challenges we had encountered and immediately got advice or were connected to someone who could help us.
- Your neighbors (in the same accelerator): As a startup, you often feel like it’s “you against the world,” so motivation and keeping morale high is critical. In an incubator environment, everyone around you is working just as hard, if not harder than you. It helps to be where folks are at your level, and it helps to see high and low points at the same time. This humanizes starting a business.
- Brand recognition: Some accelerator/incubator programs are difficult to get into, especially Techstars. When other companies, potential employees, investors all see that you graduated from a program of this caliber, it sets you apart from …