Day 150: Why I passed on applying to three start-up accelerator programs

“‘Funded’ doesn’t neccessarily mean ‘validated'” – Wil Schroter

A few weeks ago, Tinkerdash received an unexpected invitation to apply for JLAB, the “the startup accelerator program from the John Lewis Partnership”.

But, flattered as I was, I was torn.

JLAB was now one of a few start-up accelerator programs on my radar. I’d already taken the time to apply (unsuccessfully) for The TrueStart Productivity Challenge in partnership with Morrison’s supermarket in recent months, which was of a similar ilk to JLAB and other programs.

From this, I gathered that the application process for these types of programs typically involves creating a pitch deck, backed up by best-guess financial estimates, followed by rounds of events and meet-and-greets. A time-consuming and somewhat distracting task.

So, in the end, I decided to let the April 2017 application deadlines pass by without applying for three separate accelerator programs.

Sure, I understood the benefits of working with an accelerator program, for example, getting access to investment and mentorship. However, whilst these things would be nice, I felt that the process of applying would detract from Tinkerdash’s top priority to acquire those first 10-20 paying customers, which was the only thing that would truly validate that the current version of Tinkerdash had legs.

And that’s not to say I won’t apply to JLAB or any other accelerator program in future but if I do, I’ll do so when I feel it makes sense for Tinkerdash and its users.

Time will tell if this was a sensible decision. Here’s to hoping!

P.S. in case you’re wondering which start-up accelerators I was considering applying for, they were:

  1. JLAB, which I’ve already discussed above.
  2. TrueStart, a start-up accelerator program specialising in retail and consumer businesses.
  3. TechStars London, which had been recommended by a friend working for a market leading online investment platform.

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