Accelerators should stop bragging about the funds the teams raise!
When I joined ClimAccelerator, Christian (a very hard worker) asked me about the KPIs of Now Sprint Accelerator. I answered him impact, so he wanted to know how to measure that. Of course, what he expected me to say was how much money the teams raised that went through my program. I ignored that KPI and explained that, especially in early stage, impact means giving the teams support, knowledge, and confidence to go to their next step. Not raising money but making sure that they have a product or service that solves a real problem for enough people to build a business around. I am a big fan of getting customers who pay, not raising money to fulfill dreams without substance. Bootstrapped hardcore, I never raised money on an empty account, that is, customer accounts. That is where the real validation comes to light.
As I am already engaged in the SDGs and now Climate Change I did some research on the existing accelerators who proclaim green and blue and I saw that they all like to brag about how much money the teams that went through their programs had raised. So in the end they see the money impact as key KPI despite the idea of changing the world. Missed opportunity in my view. The biggest change we need is to change the neo-liberal goal of profit and added value, read making a lot of upsell, as the main aim. The industrial revolution destroyed us but we keep the same mindset. Bottomline making (a lot of) money for a minority. Equity for money while you have no idea what will be the outcome while we underline that any startup should first validate, validate and validate. So there you are with that unknown co-investor and probably stuck for quite some time.
If we really want change we will need a new KPI set that measures the real impact of accelerators. Do not get me wrong, a company must make money, profit, otherwise start an NGO or see it as a hobby. The startup world is sick today because of the gamble money of some rich people or institutions with big pockets and a dubious strategy. KPIs should be about profitable business, hiring people, products, and services that add value to a better world, even happiness should be accounted for. After the Climate Change comes the Nature disaster, extinction, lost biodiversity etc. And that we will not be able to solve. If there is really money to gamble with, then at least gamble on startups with a positive impact on society and humanity for the long run. I see great examples already in the circular economy. And in the end, when a team gets investment from a fund or angel, it is their achievement and not the one of the accelerator!
I don’t have all the solutions, but in Now Sprint, free and with no equity, I can clearly see the impact of what we do, together with amazing volunteers. They help me give workshops, are devoted mentors and a great jury. So let’s change the table setting and look for better ways to support entrepreneurs, not based on the quick growth and the X-times you can make in 5 to 10 years. Let’s plan long term so our kids and grandchildren also have a place of happiness. A cliche as big as a house but we need to repeat this but accelerators should make a choice on which side they stand.
(Health to your Hands in Turkish)