5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Accelerator

It's finally happened. After months of blood, sweat, and tears, you’ve been accepted into an accelerator. Accelerators are typically short programs, lasting a few months while packing in a ton of information, networking opportunities, and more than a few happy hours. It’s easy to get burnt out and miss out on the aspects that make doing an accelerator so helpful. In addition, this isn’t just an opportunity to move your startup to the next level - it’s also an opportunity for you to grow personally and professionally. Here are 5 tips for how to get the most out of this experience.

  1. Don’t forget to have a life. Founders pride themselves on their ability to juggle a million things. They’re often still working full time at the job that pays the bills while working another full-time job building their startup, and perhaps they have a family that would also like to see them from time to time. Make sure that you don’t let the things that are so important in life - family, health, spirituality - fall by the wayside. Do something every day that is restorative to you, like a morning workout, a walk in the evening with your kids, or cooking dinner with your partner. These little connections will energize you to ensure you have the stamina to succeed.

  2. Make friends. Take the time to get to know the other people in your cohort. This isn’t the Hunger Games, even if you feel like you may be competitors in the marketplace, for now, you’re all students learning and growing together. Making friends in the accelerator makes it more pleasant to come to the office each day (which can be hard if you have an annoying commute), and being present is so important for getting the most out of the program, as we’ll discuss below. The more you get to know your fellow founders, the more connections you’ll make. You never know if a conversation at the water cooler can turn into a great relationship with a new supplier, customer, or just a life-long friend.

  3. Show up. At MassChallenge we don’t require our startups to be in our office everyday (though who wouldn’t want to see our staffs’ smiling faces everyday?!), but we highly recommend it. In fact, we even revised our program so that startups can see the value of being in the office more often. The more you’re in the office, the more you’ll be able to absorb what the accelerator has to offer. You’ll get questions answered more easily by staff, be able to overhear lessons learned from your peers, and take advantage of a free coworking space to get some work done. Also, the more you’re around, the more likely you are to meet important or influential people. At the MassChallenge offices, we always have interesting and influential people dropping by, from international business delegations to politicians.

  4. Come in with a plan. Something you should have already identified during your judging round are your weaknesses and unanswered questions. This is your opportunity to get support to address your vulnerabilities. Unclear about intellectual property laws? Talk to the lawyers available. Not sure if you need to have an Instagram account for your brand? Chat with the marketing team. Make sure you have a list of questions BEFORE you arrive, so you’ll have an idea of who you should be making appointments with as early in the program as possible. You’ll have many more questions arise as the accelerator progresses, so you want to make sure that these initial questions don’t fall through the cracks.

  5. Have fun. At the end of the day, you made it into a really challenging and rewarding program. Don’t worry about how far you need to go - take the time to appreciate how far you’ve come! Celebrate that and don’t forget to enjoy being part of the accelerator! Brag on Facebook (and don’t forget to tag us in your firgun), go out to lunch with your fellow Finalists and the staff, be active in the inevitable Whatsapp or Facebook group created for your cohort.

  Have you done an accelerator? What advice do you have for our newest class of Finalists?