Recent changes are forcing accelerators and startup ecosystem enablers to go digital. What has been a nice-to-have became a must-have in just two weeks.
Can accelerators bring their offer completely online? If so, what is the time frame?
The current situation hits accelerators hard. Many programs were suddenly stopped and program managers are having a tough time to come up with workable solutions.
- Should they re-schedule when nobody really knows how long the situation will continue?
- Should they try to bring everything online?
- What can they tell coaches and startups when things will be running again?
- How can they train everybody so that online delivery is possible at all?
Accelerators can bring their offers and community online. And there are different ways to do that.
The Duct-Tape Solution
We see some accelerators combine different online and SaaS tools to create a solution for their users. They use the tools handily available and somehow known. This is a sensible thing to do. Unfortunately, it often results in one tool for video conferencing and recording screencasts, one for file sharing, another one for online scheduling with calendars. Then there are Slack or Facebook groups for discussions and individual feedback. And let’s not forget the good old email.
Program managers deliver the best possible experience for online mentoring, but combining different tools takes quite some effort and the user experience is at best described as ‘works somehow’.
This kind of solution also puts enormous strain on the program manager. They are manually duct-taping all these tools together to create a workable solution.
The We-Have-a-Working-Platform-For-You Solution
Immediate action is absolutely necessary, nevertheless, it might also be a good idea to take a breath and think about not only the next couple of weeks but also the next 6 to 12 months. When accelerators right now need to invest all the effort into bringing “something” online, why not invest it into something that will make their life a lot easier?
Bringing your services online has three main parts:
- You need to have your content in a digital format
- You need a way to deliver your content
- You need a way to communicate with your users
Depending on the quality and quantity of your existing content, creating content is often the most time-consuming part when bringing services online.
For part 2 and 3 you can either take the duct-tape approach or use a platform that is specifically designed for the batch-structure accelerators have and that gives program managers a solution that is scalable and less resource-consuming.
A scalable solution
What does scalable mean in this context? It means that it is easy to combine and re-use content. And you need to manage rights and timing to access it.
When your accelerator does its next batch, you simply pick and choose from the content you already have, add or adapt things and invite a new group of startups.? And you are ready to go. Want to run two batches in parallel? Just create a new batch, add or (re-)use your content and invite users. Ready.
The key2investors platform can be set up in only two working days to include your branding and GDPR-separated data. After those two days, it is ready for you to start uploading content.? You can integrate videos from any video hosting platform and you can of course provide templates and downloads to your startups. Users can also upload their documents and define who should give feedback and see it. All in one central place.
Coaches and Community
Many accelerators work with coaches or mentors that help startups during the program. The key2investors platform fully supports this and is built for easy collaboration between coaches and startups. Startups can share their data with coaches and can easily collaborate on business plans, pitch decks or any other thing.
When it comes to managing a large group of users online it is important to have a “single source of truth”. No more hunting around for that email with the latest assignment dates and action items. The key2investors platform has an integrated forum that acts as a communication hub. Moderators (program managers) can easily create and update posts or send out messages to all users. Startups can discuss topics of the acceleration program, ask questions or get feedback.
For startups, the accelerator gets one digital home with all resources, a well-set-up learning process and sequencing, organizational structure and communication with peers, coaches and the program manager in one place. Even feedback from individual coaches is possible by sharing files with them.
Branding and speed to implement
Accelerators get a chance to brand the digital accelerator and provide one single home to their batches. If digital content is scarce, accelerators get chance to even include plug and play readily available content in combination with their own content and their mentors’ content.
How was the process of getting an accelerator digital within 2 working days?
We set up a digital accelerator in 2 working days mid of March. When things get strategically important, then a lot is possible and collaboration is really good. The accelerator needed a white-labelled version of the platform with all its functionalities. What we did:
- implemented corporate design
- included GDPR texts
- set-up separate instance
- trained the program manager on including modules fast
- support while setting up the batches
To what extent will the crisis affect the accelerator strategy? What are the changes that will accompany us in the long term and what can the future bring?
This is still difficult to say and the future will tell. Still, like all the society and economy has a steep learning curve and skills improvement in all things digital in 3 weeks instead of over years, the same is valid for accelerators. The nice thing about going digital is that reach is automatically larger, you can (if you want) collaborate and learn remotely and time-independent and you get scalable and more efficient with everything. This does something to the offering and business models of accelerators and we will see some changes, I am sure.