The issue with Accelerators is less with the substance of what they offer startups and corporate partners, but that the model itself is supremely flawed. Here is a list we compiled on the 7 deadly sins of the current startup accelerator model:
SIN #1 - OVERPROMISING
Few startup accelerator programs have the resources, network, and industry insights of large, established companies. More often than not, they also lack experience in working with corporate IT systems, leaving little opportunity for their alumni to grow their business beyond a simple proof of concept.
SIN #2 - UNDERDELIVERING
Accelerators don’t provide enough value for their partners. Meet-and-greets with early-stage startups and learning about innovation trends is not enough incentive for corporates to invest in accelerator programs, so they often opt to put their money to more productive use.
SIN #3 - RESOURCES VS NETWORK
A lot of established players want to partner with startups via corporate-backed accelerators, but these are often unattractive to other investors, which then scares away potential applicants. Corporate accelerators typically have more resources available, but lack the insights into working with startups and founders.
SIN #4 - PLAYING PRETEND
Accelerators help startups by sharpening their proof of concept, but most don’t provide additional, continued support to grow, build, and validate a ready-to-market solution. Summer camps are fun, but you want to make it in the real world.
SIN #5 - UNDERPREPAREDNESS
Investments don’t often lead to long-term business relationships because graduated startups don't receive additional support to implement their solutions into the corporate IT systems. There are countless hurdles to overcome beyond the accelerator environment, and most programs aren't equipped to help their teams overcome these.
SIN #6 - MISCOMMUNICATION
The startup mindset is so different from the corporate, it’s like they’re speaking another language.
Accelerators are a necessary initial point of contact between the two worlds, but there’s no one to translate when it comes to working together on real projects. There needs to be training on both ends to bridge the cultural gap that’s the root cause of ineffective collaboration.
SIN #7 - INCOMPATIBILITY
Startups and corporates are ideal innovation partners, but projects usually fail at the point of IT implementation.
Early-stage startups are able to address challenges that large, established companies struggle to do internally due to their corporate IT systems and complicated hierarchies. Both see potential value in partnerships, but there is a lot of skepticism in practice. Startups see corporates as inflexible and slow, and avoid wasting energy on the complex processes. Corporates are risk-averse and prefer robust, established solutions from experienced partners.