Accelerator programs and incubators can offer startups a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pitch investors, meet other entrepreneurs, learn from mentors, get seed funding, and build their brand.  

With many accelerator programs, the startup will trade the accelerator equity in the form of shares or convertible notes, and in return the accelerator will provide the startup with funding, a place to work, mentorship, a community of other startups, a network of entrepreneurs, and opportunities to pitch to investors.

Every year, thousands of eager entrepreneurs get accepted into accelerator programs, which usually last a few months.  However, even with the help they receive from the accelerator, a significant majority of these startups still fail.  

By taking advantage of the resources and opportunities of accelerator programs, startups can increase their chance of success in the long run.  

Here are five ways you can take advantage of your accelerator program to maximize your chances of long term success:

1. Make friends

The other entrepreneurs who work beside you are some of the best connections you could ever have.  These are people who think like you, and whose ideas are innovative enough to place them alongside you in the accelerator.  These people can someday be your employees, employers, and introduce you to companies and investors.

2. Be Engaged

Take full advantage of the meetings, events, and life at the accelerator.  You might just meet your newest developer, or discover an idea that changes your business.

3. Listen

When your cohorts and mentors talk, close your mouth and listen.  They have either been in your shoes or are currently in your shoes.  There is no definite road to your success; you need to always keep your ears open for advice and guidance.

4. Respect Your Mentor

Utilize your mentor as best you can. Listen to everything they say, challenge them, and ask them as many questions as you can.  After all, they invested in you; their goal is in line with yours.  Plus, they've been through it all before.

5. Use Their Network and Resources

Your accelerator has a first or second connection to thousands of successful entrepreneurs and investors.  Dig into this network for people and resources to grow your company.  Take advantage of startup-centric technologies like Mixpanel and HubSpot.

Published on: Jul 15, 2016