By Tom Stewart, Program Manager, Conquer Accelerator
Every year, thousands of eager entrepreneurs head off to accelerator programs across the globe. Usually, accelerator programs are a few months in duration. The Conquer Accelerator program is only ten weeks long—and that time flies right by. This can leave a lot of entrepreneurs scrambling to keep up.
At Conquer, we believe luck favors the prepared, so before you begin our program (or any program for that matter), here are some ways to maximize your experience:
1.Get to Know the Other Members of Your Cohort
The other individuals in the program are some of the best connections you’ll ever make. Finding like-minded people can be hard to do out in the world, but here you have a whole class of people who are natural problem-solvers, and who also happen to be eager to help. You never know what everyone’s already been through and what lessons they’ve learned. So, don’t be bashful—be intentional about chatting with the other teams.
2.Take Advantage of the Program’s Network and Resources (and Don’t Be Afraid to Ask How)
Because of our close relationship with Michigan State University, Conquer has access to thousands of first- and second-level connections with entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts across the globe. You will want to identify the top ten people/ groups you’d like to reach out to, and then pinpoint why they’re important to you and what you would want to ask of them. Chances are we can put you in touch with the right folks to get your there.
Realize that you’re on the clock. This means you can’t waste time. Prioritize your tasks. Launch your product yesterday. Iterate and pivot quickly. Find the shortcuts to the paths of least resistance. Don’t take time chasing customers that take too long to close. Take action. Ten weeks are over before you know it.
4.Respect Your Mentors (However, Beware of Mentor Whiplash)
Take advantage of the time you have with mentors. Keep an open mind and listen to what they have to say. Trust that their perspectives comes from places of deep experience. Most importantly, find creative ways to integrate their feedback into your company that makes it your own—you don’t have to do what they say word-for-word. With 40+ mentors, here at Conquer, you’re likely to get conflicting feedback. It’s your job to figure out which pieces will lead to the most revenue and best growth for your company.
5.Manage Your Emotions
You’ll have good days and bad days. One day, your star customer will drop you like a ton of bricks, and the next day you’ll find that needle in the haystack you’ve been waiting for. Accelerators are an emotional rollercoaster and it’s important to stay grounded and positive. Work on a hobby, take a video game break, or do whatever you need to do to keep your mind in the game. Your grit will pay off in the end.
These are just a handful of the ways you can get the most out of your accelerator programs. If you’ve been through a program before, what are some other things you’ve learned that entrepreneurs should know before they begin?
Want to share your experiences? Do you have advice or helpful tips for our startup teams? Want to connect? Act as a mentor to Conquer Accelerator's entrepreneurs? Then please take a moment to connect with us on social media (links in the page footer).
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