Has the Age of the Accelerator Ended?

Sammy Abdullah, Co-manager at DAN Fund, a Dallas venture capital firm, recently penned a post on LinkedIn entitled “Why you shouldn’t join an accelerator.

Sammy’s concern is that the value-add for those with no start-up expertise in need of guidance and mentor-ship has been diminished by the dilution of accelerator models in the start-up ecosystem. He pointed out that outside of top-tier accelerators, the 7-8% decrease in equity and investment “strings” simply aren’t offset by investor introduction.

The saturation of accelerators and their subsequent devaluation was addressed by nationally ranked accelerator Tech Wildcatters and was the impetus behind their new Gauntlet program, which they say will “fix the areas we know are not beneficial for our investors and are especially not beneficial for our startups.”

There may be something to the question of the value of “generalized” accelerators, but does that diminish the value of focused accelerators like Dallas’s own REVTECH? There is something to be said for market expertise in terms of mentor-ship and investment. As part of REVTECH’s mission, they seek to “facilitate the technological evolution of the restaurant and retail industry and we achieve this by attracting, mentoring, and connecting experienced entrepreneurs with viable products to talent, customers, and investors.”

As with any service, the “proof is in the pudding,” and that wisdom holds true even when choosing an accelerator. Sammy summed it up in his post by advising, “While I’m sure there are some accelerators that provide great value…  Before you join one, make sure you speak to as many alumni as you can about their experience, look up reviews, ask how many exits the accelerator has had and even then do everything you can to avoid it.”

After all, even a really successful accelerator relies on the vision and ambition of the entrepreneur.

Shannon McConnell