Is there funding available?
The major accelerators offer funding to those companies they deem sufficiently promising.
The money probably won’t make or break your business – for example, the Springboard accelerator programme offers each entrant up to £15,000 of investment capital, while Oxygen offers around £20,000 – but it could provide a crucial launchpad, if used wisely.
What sort of criteria must a company meet?
It depends. Each accelerator has a rigorous set of criteria; for example, to be considered for the Oxygen accelerator, the founders of the company will be asked a series of questions relating to existing milestones, investment to date and revenue generation, backed up with a short video from the founding members, explaining why they should be selected for the accelerator programme.
Judges will be looking for the strength of an idea, the quality of presentation, team dynamics and the extent to which a company will benefit from the accelerator.
Are the accelerators too focused on tech?
Although the primary focus is on tech, there is scope for companies in other sectors to be included, if they demonstrate sufficient potential.
Mark Hales, of Oxygen, said: “We really are going to the whole spectrum, it’s very much a portfolio approach. We’re not necessarily looking for the next big thing in tech, we’re looking at the whole spectrum from apps to social media, data analytics, retail, ecommerce – everything.”
The key UK players
Key events and services: Week-long learning event in London during September, when carefully selected start-ups receive coaching and networking opportunities. Also hosts ‘mini-Seedcamp’ events throughout the year in UK, Europe and the US.
Other events and services: Two-week trip for selected Seedcamp companies to the USA, providing advice and coaching. Also provides a ‘Demo Day’ where invested companies can showcase their work, and an ‘Investor Day’ where incubated companies meet external investors.
Funding available per start-up: €50,000 for any start-up which wins a Seedcamp event, in return for an 8-10% equity stake.
Mentoring network: 600-strong band of seed investors, serial entrepreneurs, product experts, HR and PR specialists, marketers, lawyers, recruiters, journalists and venture capitalists.
Target industries: Digital, tech.
How to apply: Visit http://apply.seedcamp.com/.
Key events and services: 13-week course of one-to-one mentoring and advice for selected companies.
Funding available per start-up: £5,000 per founder, to a maximum of £15,000.
Mentoring network: 100 mentors from various background and sectors.
Target industries: Various
How to apply: Springboard runs competitions for interested firms throughout the year. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Based: Birmingham Science Park
Key events and services: A 13-week incubation programme for selected companies, including accommodation, mentoring, and specific coaching for pitches and business plan development. The programme culminates in an investor day.
Funding available per start-up: Up to £20,000 (although bear in mind this a loan, repayable once a sufficient level of investment or profitability has been reached).
Mentoring network: Tech entrepreneurs as well as legal and financial experts.
Target industries: Primarily tech, but scope for promising companies from other areas.
How to apply: Visit http://oxygenaccelerator.com/ for more information.