Not All Accelerators are Created Equal: Is a Niche Program Right for your Startup?

But with so many technology accelerator programs now available, it may be time to start looking closer at the advantages of niche accelerators.

One of the best ways to help get your startup off the ground is to take advantage of the mentorship and financial benefits of an accelerator program. In a limited time period, accelerator programs are meant to jump-start your business and provide networking opportunities and mentorship both during and after the program.

But with so many technology accelerator programs now available, it may be time to start looking past the broader accelerators and take a closer look at the niche accelerator programs that have sprung up to help startups in rapidly-growing categories, such as mobile commerce technology, healthcare technology and clean technology. There are real advantages for choosing one of these accelerators over big players like Founder Institute or DogPatch Labs.

1. Mentorship from Experts in Your Industry

The mentorship you receive during an accelerator program is vital to push your startup forward. It’s not uncommon to receive conflicting feedback when your startup spends time with multiple advisors and mentors. Without the right mentors and guidance, you can waste valuable time not receiving the right expertise to perfect your product or service for your specific market.

Oftentimes, niche accelerator programs have more unique opportunities for startups to interact with industry leaders and have key partnerships already in place. For example, it can be a huge payoff for your video game startup to spend 12 weeks at one of the many niche accelerators in Montreal, which is world-famous for its gaming industry. Mentorship should not be an overlooked resource of an accelerator program. See what type of mentorship is truly offered, if there’s any actual face time with mentors involved or not, in order to decide if that accelerator is the best choice for your startup.

2. The Right Business Development Resources

The accelerator resource that usually draws the most attention is the access to funding. However, in order for startups to get the most out of an accelerator experience, the resources available for business development are just as important. Your startup idea is unique, which is why you need unique business development resources to grow that idea. Just like specific mentors, your startup can really benefit from having specialized resources available.

3. Quality, Personalized Attention

With so many startups and so many different goals, broader accelerator programs are notorious for high failure rates. They’re perceived as assembly lines, churning out as many new startups as possible and hoping one hits it big, rather than carefully nurturing each unique startup and pushing it to its full potential

By launching with a niche accelerator, your business is more likely to receive the one-on-one attention desired. Take a look to see if the program offers the opportunity to meet with mentors and investors on a regular basis, rather than virtual communication only. Niche accelerators are also more likely to provide services at the program’s headquarters. For example, AlphaLab Gear, an accelerator for hardware and robotics startups, is securing a 10,000-square-foot facility to accommodate offices for each company, as well as conference rooms, light tooling and manufacturing equipment, and a personal workspace/lab bench. This niche accelerator lists a dozen other specific resources startups are provided with to successfully launch their companies.

Choosing the acceleration route is highly valued for startups; however, as more and more programs launch, it’s important to research and find the right offering for your company.