From Quora: Is it important to consider exposure to copying when considering which accelerator to go for?

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I’ve answered a couple of questions recently on Quora that I thought deserved to be shared here on the blog:

Is it important to consider exposure to copying when considering which accelerator to go for?

Yes, it is: The good accelerators get you lots of public exposure!

Applying to an accelerator means that you’re interested in gaining public exposure for your startup. Pitch practices and events are one of the major features of most accelerators and gaining exposure in the community for startups is a major goal of most accelerators.

Realistically, most startups are in mortal danger of being ignored to death rather than being copied, even in accelerators. Once the bright lights of the pitch event go dark, a lot of interest immediately dissipates. The survivors are the startups that leveraged that brief moment of limelight into some kind of funding and sales momentum. Most don’t.

If you’re seriously worried about being copied, you’ve got a good thing going: Execute a lot faster! Once you’ve got traction and funding, your risk from competition begins to decrease (slowly).

Why are startup accelerators only three months long? Is this optimal?

As a co-founder and Managing Director of a venture accelerator, we gave this issue some thought when we started: Why 3 months and is 3 months really optimal?

The truth of the matter is that accelerators are great big filters. We’re the bleeding edge of the venture capital markets and our job is to identify the most promising startups and help them to either prove their team and concept quickly, or fail quickly, before more time and money is wasted.

We’re looking for startups that have a coherent business problem to solve and who can spend 3 months proving that (a) the problem is real and they can demonstrate market validation through customer contact;  (b) the business model and economics of the startup work; and (c) they’re the team capable of delivering a solution. That last one is mostly proved through the delivery of a MVP (minimal viable product).

If a startup is going to be successful, they move fast and can prove those three things in 3 months. And if they prove those three things, they are likely to get further funding, regardless of how far along their product or service is in development, or how much additional investment they might need to get fully into the market.

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This blog is dedicated to providing advice, tools and encouragement from one entrepreneur to another. I want to keep this practical and accessible for the new entrepreneur while also providing enough sophistication and depth to prove useful to the successful serial entrepreneur. My target rests somewhere between the garage and the board room, where the work gets done and the hockey stick emerges.

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