What’s a startup accelerator? Techstars, Entrepreneur First, and Y Combinator put founders together in a box to see what they can create. They shake the box and subject the talent to trials and tribulations to help shape them into less shaky versions of themselves who think out of the box. In recent years, this startup accelerator model has gained traction, popularity and success.
It’s often cited that entrepreneurs are born not made. If so, why should a founder with a great idea, some traction, and sometimes a small team of individuals committed to the cause, give away a big chunk of equity in their business when their apparent entrepreneurial suitability is predestined?
Because entrepreneurs are made. They are forged in the fires of rejection. They are driven by their peers who doubt them and inspired by those who believe in them.
They are scarred by investors who sign term sheets, let you quit your job, let you serve your notice, hire a team, and only then do they inform you that they aren’t going to invest. This is a team game. You need the yin and yang. You need the battle wounds. You also need help.
Help can come in many forms. Mentorship, advisors, teammates, co-founders, angels, investors and accelerators. These individuals and entities give you a leg up. After my early wounds, I was reticent to “give away” any of my business, but I was curious about how an early stage institution or VC could help us reach the next stage of growth.
In 2018, when I saw the guys from Stadia pitch at an event they hosted in partnership with Northridge Law, I was blown away by the quality of their presentations, the manner in which they conducted themselves, the quality of their startups and how they pitched. I was in awe.
Instantly, my perception of accelerators had changed and I had Stadia in my sights. After 18 months of growth, networking and product development later and we were ready to apply to their program.
Getting invited to pitch in St. Louis in January 2020 was exciting. Getting accepted into Cohort X was enthralling. Almost as good, as launching your new logo with a matching range of vegan donuts.
I didn’t know what was to come but it surpassed all of my expectations.
What do business accelerators do?
Business accelerators help you and that help comes in many different forms.
Early-stage incubators can help you build / drastically shorten and simplify your pitch deck, your tagline, and develop your business plan.
Business growth programs like that offered by London & Partners offer you an opportunity to up-skill, meeting early-stage investors, and network with other founders that are “going through it.”
Business labs like that offered by WeWork put entrepreneurs and companies together to cultivate and curate collaboration. They offer value through their network of partnerships and, of course, free coffee and drinks.
An accelerator is designed to give your business an upgrade in every sense of the word. Warm introductions to a network of leads, investors and talent who can take your business to the next level. Refining your pricing, sales and marketing strategy, budgeting, etc.
Stadia was all of those things and more to Edge. We’ve onboarded customers, advisors, and investors during the program. I wanted to share some of that experience with other founders that are curious about what an accelerator can bring to their business.
What can you expect from the Stadia experience?
Expect 3 things from the Stadia:
1. The Stadia Family
Every conversation, interaction, and discussion oozes authenticity. Mentors, advisors, and Stadia staff overextend themselves consistently to ensure that your needs are met.
“You need an investor from the Payments space? No problem.”
“You are looking to connect with decision-makers at your customers? Done.”
“No vegan sandwiches at the university, Adam? No problem. I’ll get you an Uber eats”
Stadia’s team is full of exceptional people who put kindness first. Your Stadia cohort colleagues are not different. Thank you to Masa, Luke, Partha, Jared, Swish, and Aanikh for all the memories and elbow bumps.
Stadia’s program runs over 14 weeks. Every 2 weeks you are connected with business professionals that share their tales with the cohort. Industry leaders from brands like Under Armour, the PGA, the British Esports Association, or Intel give you in-depth insights about industry trends. The individuals share more than one would typically with a “stranger.” (See point 1 for the rationale.)
Accelerators are designed to do precisely that – Accelerate. When the quality of everything delivered and demanded is as excellent as Stadia produces, acceleration is a natural byproduct.
Stadia are incredibly well networked in the sports and esports space. Introductions are warm and thorough. The dots have already been connected for the various entities.
As part of the excellent Stadia family, your decks will be read, pitches will be listened to, and your calls will be taken.
4. Space to breathe
As an entrepreneur, you are constantly sprinting from one task to another, knocking on door after door. Stadia can provide calm in the storm. A sanctuary to reset and revisit what your business goals are. How can you be more strategic about getting from A to B? Is B even what you should be aiming at?
Stadia gives you the tools, processes and stability to work on the business instead of constantly working in the business.
I can’t speak for all accelerators – I can only vouch for the experience that I’ve had with the Stadia Spring Cohort X, culminating today on 5 June 2020, Investor Showcase.
If you are a high-potential sports or esports start-up then Stadia are accepting applications now. Please send me a DM (@theesportsagent on twitter) if you think your business is right and want some advice or apply through their online portal.