Being accepted to a startup accelerator is a great way to turn a fledgling business into a fast-growing company, but sometimes entrepreneurs pursue accelerators for the wrong reasons.

During a recent interview with Inc., Techstars co-founder David Cohen explained why the real benefit of his accelerator program isn't obvious to entrepreneurs.

"We think of the Techstars product as not really the accelerator but the network," he says. "That's what entrepreneurs should be valuing here. I think it's the most undervalued thing that many entrepreneurs don't get."

When it comes to networking at accelerators, however, a common misconception is that you should try to meet as many high-profile entrepreneurs as possible. Instead of casting a wide net, Cohen says, focus on a core group of mentors who can help you in a meaningful way. 

"What you need are three or four who are paying attention to what you're doing, whom you have a lot of respect for, and who have experiences that are applicable to what you're doing," he says. "Don't think of it as, I need to get famous people around me. Think of it as, I need real operating experience." 

To hear more from the conversation, watch the video below.

Published on: Mar 5, 2015