"10 points to make the best out of your accelerator program" by Daniel Butler from sociuslive.com

Originally published on medium.com

In no particular order:

1. Look up!

Make every effort to talk to, share with and help the other teams. You’re probably going to follow many of the same processes so why reinvent the wheel? Draw on each others’s experiences, some will be a step ahead, others one behind. Simply looking to the next desk can save hours as well as build valuable community spirit.

2. Keep on keepin’ on

From day one take the attitude ‘the program doesn’t owe me a thing’. An accelerator is an opportunity, not a free ticket. Sometimes there will be input from program leaders and mentors but at the end of the day, this is your company and your responsibility to make it work, so don’t expect the program to carry you over the goal line.

3. Get your priorities straight

The decisions you make should leverage what the program can offer and sometimes product development must take a backseat for biz development. Remember you are building a business not just a product. Prioritise what is truly MVP for your business to be in the best possible place when the program is at its end.

4. Demo day illusions

Demo day is often portrayed as some holy grail. Sure it’s great to have a deadline but don’t expect a check to be stuffed in your thong whilst you’re gesticulating to Keynote. If investment is crucial for your survival post demo day you should be talking to angels and early stage VCs from the get-go. Don’t spam, be selective and search for feedback to hone your deck.

5. Live it, breathe it

Live with your co-founders. We moved country for our program and chose to share an apartment together. This may be intense but many decisions are thought and materialise with whilst simply living instead of within the constraints of meeting times and “office hours”.

6. The fish bowl

Following on from no.5. Being in an accelerator program it’s easy to get sucked into a kind of Big Brother-esque startup clique, but remember to venture out of the bubble to get a wider, real world perspective. Try explaining your startup to your local pizza baker. If you begin to see a glazed look on their face, its’ time to ditch the buzz words and iterate your pitch! The day after demo day is when the real work starts in the real world.

7. Listen. Now repeat what they just said

We had feedback on our first mentor day that our Total Addressable Market wasn’t clear enough. We chose to prioritise other areas and were called out on the second mentor day. A task may be daunting, less appealing or you feel not priority but try to be objective, listen carefully and steer into the slide instead of crashing hard later.

8. Lean task management

We use Trello for non-development weekly tasks (development tasks are listed in Bitbucket). In Trello we typically make four main lists: admin, product, sales, back burner. To each of these lists we add tasks and assign one team member. We have a weekly todo list and drag tasks from the categories into this. Then any completed tasks are added to a done list. Simple without ending up being a task in itself.

9. Drop the sales pitch

Once you are in the position that you have a beta or live product you will be eager to get the first sales. Whilst approaching potential customers it’s important to remember that you are speaking with people. Talk to them with genuine curiosity and interest. Ask them about their challenges, their lives and try to understand them. Customer relationships are longterm so use your calls to confirm or deny assumptions and add value to your product instead of equating success to an immediate sale.

10. Group ping pong

Gather a group, arm them with paddles and as soon as you have returned the ball make room for the person next in line, rotate and repeat until one is left victorious. It’s great for relaxing as a batch and provides your 1/5 daily recommended dose of exercise — which means you can drink beer whilst playing it! Win win!

I’m Daniel Butler, Co-founder & CEO of Socius — a tool for brands to centralise the best content shared about them across social media, into one engaging branded hub.