You want to help entrepreneurs and their startups. Either those local to you or those within a specific sector or those organized in specific ways, etc. You have some ideas on how to help, but would yourself like some guidance on how best to structure a program, whether incubator, accelerator, and/or investment fund.
You found the right place, as Fledge can help.
Accelerators are best
There are tens of thousands of programs helping startups and training entrepreneurs. These programs operate in just about every major city in the world, quite a lot of smaller cities, with other programs focused on whole countries or whole regions. And yet, every year there are more and more entrepreneurs seeking help, and thus no sign of saturation.
These programs take a variety of forms. Most are grant-funded, free to the participants, and either measured in months or measured in days. Generally, too long or too short.
In 2006, two programs were created that have proven out a better model, the business accelerator. Y Combinator and Techstars were those two programs. However, Y Combinator has never been replicated, and seems to only work because it is based in Silicon Valley. Techstars, on the other hand, itself operates dozens of programs globally and has been replicated thousands of times.
Fledge itself was originally modeled after Techstars, but with a focus on mission-driven for-profit companies without requiring a technology core and without the focus on venture-scale unicorn-hunting.
If you are focused on tech startups in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere in the Global North, go talk to Techstars and the Global Accelerator Network. If you are focused on mission-driven startups, keep reading.
Reusable parts, Custom design
Fledge can help you create the program you think best for your target entrepreneurs. We’ve done this before, all over the world, with no two identical programs, instead each customized by their creators.
What these program do have in common is (and how we help with each step):
- Open applications, attracting talent through a mix of marketing and recruitment. Your program is focused on startups from [sectors and geography]. Fledge will show you how we’ve attracted hundreds or thousands of applicants to a session and we’ll promote your program to our applicants and our network.
- A cohort of simultaneous participants, who through the program form a peer-network of support, and who join into a growing peer-network of fellow entrepreneurs who they can turn for support. Fledge will show you questions that help us screen, show you how to create a mathematical model for picking the most promising applicants, and let you avoid the common pitfalls most accelerators have in their first few sessions.
- A fast-paced, high intensity program, which forces companies to focus on improving their companies, and which attracts hundreds of outside “mentors” to provide guidance to those companies, far more help than is provided by the accelerator staff. Fledge will provide our curriculum, access to our network of hundreds of mentors, our methods for best-in-class talks at Demo Day, and all our behind-the-scenes contracts. You provide the team to operate the program. That can be as few as one facilitator and a help, but more often is a team of 2-5.
- A cash investment into each participant, creating a long-term relationship between the graduates and the accelerator program, providing years of follow-on support for these companies beyond the limited time within the accelerator program. This is the one part you have to provide yourself. Fledge Seattle proved out The Angel Accelerator as a tool for raising these funds if this is a challenge you need help with. The Nature-Accelerator and The Land Accelerator solved this challenge with grants.
Overall what Fledge provides is all the parts you need to run a best-in-class accelerator, minus the staff and funding. You use whatever subset of those parts you think best to design your program. We’re happy to be a sounding board on your ideas, telling you what has been tried before and what has worked best elsewhere.
A Network of Peers
Fledge’s goals in building this global network of accelerators are three-fold.
First, we want to help organizations operate best-in-class programs, avoiding the common pitfalls that plague new entrepreneurship training programs. We can help make the first session as good as the fifth. We can save tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs getting an accelerator up and running, fill in gaps of knowledge in running an investment portfolio, and make the difficult task of raising money at least a little bit easier.
Second, every accelerator program can be improved. We learn much faster if we’re sharing experiences. Joining the network creates the open relationship of knowledge sharing. Sharing not just top down from us to you. We encourage our partner organizations to try new ideas, and share the success or failure of those ideas across the whole network. So rather than a few learning from an annual (or bi-annual) program, being part of the network provides lessons from numerous programs per year.
Third, your graduates become part of a bigger alumni network. This increases their exposure to mentors and investors. This increases their odds of success. The biggest value provided by an accelerator is the connections it makes between participants, mentors, and investors. That is a value that increases exponentially as the network grows. Fledge’s network lets you start with a large, global network on Day 1.
Joining the Network
An accelerator is not a difficult business to launch and operate. If it were, there would not be thousands of accelerators in the world. That said, only a handful of these programs have global recognition, and few have managed to operate ten sessions or to stay in business over half a decade. The challenges for accelerators come in having a sustainable business model for the accelerator itself, and in overcoming the inevitable hurdles of learning how to successfully operate the accelerator as a business, providing a high level of quality and service to the entrepreneurs.
Joining the network means starting with a proven business model, a proven curriculum, a large and global mentor network, access to a collection of like-minded accelerator directors, and an established brand name.
To join the network, you ask sign a license. There is no sign-up cost and no annual membership fee. There is simply a fixed fee of $7,000 each time you run a session and a fee of $700 per company you invite to participate. (The $7,000 is discounted for programs working in the Global South, the per-fledgling fee is always $700.)
|Branding||You bring your own brand, optionally powered by Fledge, or you can use the Fledge brand.|
|Marketing||Fledge.co, https://www.fledge.co/blog, Newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn||Add content to those feeds|
|Recruitment||Outreach to various global partners, Fledge profiles on multiple online lists||Outreach to local partners. Recruitment efforts directly with entrepreneurs.|
|Selection||Fledge screens the top applicants, and interviews as needed. Fledge provides a screening process and ranking ontology.||You screen all applications and interview all promising applicants. You make the final decisions.|
|Contracts||Fledge provides copies of our Participation Agreement and Stock Purchase Agreement||You edit the agreements to fit your local laws and regulations|
|Curriculum||Fledge provides a full two month curriculum including online through The Next Step series of books for entrepreneurs.||You add guest speakers and anything else you want to add.|
|Mentors||Fledge invites its mentor network to meet your fledglings.||You add your mentors to the network.|
|Demo Day||The Fledge curriculum includes three weeks teaching story telling aiming for the fledglings to tell a TED-like talk on-stage. Videos of those talks are posted to youtube.com/fledgellc.||You organize and video the Demo Day.|
|Alumni||All fledglings are listed on fledglings.fledge.co. Fledge tracks quarterly revenues and employment for all alumni.||You provide continued support and introduce your alumni to investors. You and your inventors are welcome to co-invest in any fledgling gradate.|
|Capital||For all of the above services, Fledge charges a license fee of $7,000 per session (discounted for the Global South), plus a one-time fee of $700 per fledgling.||You raise the capital needed to invest in each fledgling and to cover all your operational costs.|
If you are interested in joining the network, we will provide you a draft financial model to help you understand the details of the capital flows, and can provide you an outline of an Executive Summary which you can fill in and share with your local investors.
To start off that process contact us.