Why join an accelerator as an IoT company?
An accelerator is typically a 2-3 month program where start-ups trade company equity for cash, mentorship, additional investment opportunities, and access to industry experts and customers. The program length and what is traded varies greatly, and while the big names like Techstars and Y Combinator have set the standard, thousands of other programs exist with similar goals.
Why IoT companies benefit
IoT (Internet of Things) companies are in a unique but highly competitive field. IoT founders are being asked to be proficient in software development, hardware development, networked devices, and of course running a start-up. That said, the beauty of an IoT start-up is that all the technology used in IoT products have already been vetted! Standard techniques exist for hardware manufacturing, off the shelf sensor implementation is readily available, and even the challenging aspects of wireless connectivity are being made simpler with an ever increasing array of solutions.
Since technology is becoming commoditized, an IoT company’s value lies in finding their niche. And the IoT niche is transitioning away from gimmicky consumer electronics, to real value-adding B2B products. With a good idea and a great team, IoT start-ups are able to quickly develop products that will add measurable value to business operations in any industry. The key is finding the need. Any entrepreneur already knows this. This is also why early accelerators are so valuable for IoT companies. Experienced mentorship and ready access to relevant industry experts (also potential customers) are key to validating a need, honing in on it, and pivoting. This is then combined with the availability of follow on investment opportunities and guidance on preparing for investment once that need is fleshed out.
Picking the right accelerator
There are two key points for an IoT founder to decide if her/his company should participate in an accelerator: 1) The company and founders are ready (and able) to commit to their company full-time during the program, and are prepared to trade company equity. Spending 2-3 months focusing exclusively on company development through the accelerator is not something every founder or company is ready for. Accelerators are an in-person affair, so relocating for the duration of the accelerator is almost always necessary especially for the CEO. 2) Choosing an accelerator that will provide the industry expertise and mentorship their product and business model needs. Before saying yes to an accelerator, founders should know what industry expertise mentors bring to the table and what the accelerator’s goals are for the companies they bring in.
About the Author
Crystal Harvey is the Reno Innevation Center Assistant Director, and InNEVator Program Manager. The University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center – Powered by Switch acts as the University’s avenue for supporting funded growth companies in the region. The InNEVator is a fully-funded 8-week bootcamp for start-ups in the field of IoT. Crystal’s expertise is in communicating both technology and business needs and has a background in project management, operations, mechanical engineering, and business development.