We think that this is a great start. Here's the list, as prepared by the UK team:
- Be clear in what is offered to startups
- Share statistics that matter
- Publicized investment levels should reflect “take home” amount after participants pay any required fees
- Terms should be clear and transparent from the start
- Startups should know who investors are
- Support an informed choice by making alumni available to speak
- Mentors should be active within the last 12 months
- Coaching at least once per week
- Startups should receive support post-program
- Shortlisted applicants will receive feedback if they are rejected
- Be transparent and always honest
Here is how:
Share statistics that matter. As a new program, this is something we want to work on to keep the program accountable. To this end, we are pleased to note that Relevant Health was a winner in the US Small Business Administration's Growth Accelerator Competition. This competition commits us to report our progress in helping our cohort grow.
Publicized investment levels should reflect “take home” amount after participants pay any required fees. Relevant Health charges no fees to participate. $50,000 means $50,000. In exchange, we receive an 8% equity share in the companies that participate.
Terms should be clear and transparent from the start. We plan to give each accepted candidate a term sheet for Relevant Health. We want our cohort to be informed about the program up front so that they can focus on building great products when in the accelerator.
Startups should know who investors are. For the first cohort, investors (via the equity share mentioned above) will be managed under a single entity for Relevant Health. We plan to work throughout the program to provide access to Relevant Health's partners and potential follow-on investors.
Support an informed choice by making alumni available to speak. As a new program, we don't yet have alumni to connect, but we think this is a great idea. Based on many conversations we've had with companies who applied to Relevant Health, we know that companies are seeking out these alumni conversations as a basic step in their preparation to join accelerators; why not make it easy?
Mentors should be active within the last 12 months. This is an element of Ignite's framework where we think there is room for nuance. While as Paul mentions it does no good to keep someone on a “mentor list” if they really aren't committed to regular interaction with cohort companies, we do think there is room for specialized expertise that may or may not be applicable to individual classes of companies. If one season an expert on genomics IP hurdles isn't brought in because there are no genomics companies, but they remain interested in the program, they should be highlighted as such.
This said, direct involvement with our cohort companies is a crucial part of the program - naturally, we will encourage and reward mentors who are there alongside the companies through their day-to-day challenges and opportunities.
Coaching at least once per week. We are designing the curriculum to greatly exceed this level of support.
Startups should receive support post-program. Relevant Health is based in a facility that is part of Montgomery County's incubator system. This, and Relevant Health partner Biohealth Innovation's experience in commercialization, presents Relevant Health's graduates with a strong network of support after they graduate and continue to scale their ideas. Furthermore, those that wish to do so will be able to join an incubator while scaling their company.
In addition, “graduates” are encouraged to use the Accelerator facility at any time. Building the alumni community in this way is crucial in our goal to make Relevant Health a hub for health tech.
Shortlisted applicants will receive feedback if they are rejected. We strongly agree here - regardless of the results, we do plan to provide feedback to every applicant at the end of the review. This might not be immediate given the volume of applications, but we will be as prompt as possible. We see this as a duty to companies for applying - we want to help companies iterate their ideas and products, whether independently of Relevant Health or as part of our program.
Be transparent and always honest. Hard not to agree here. As we launch our first cohort, we plan to plan to continually seek feedback from folks involved in our activities, to share expectations up front, and be clear on where our efforts stand.
As you can imagine, seeing Ignite's accelerator framework helped validate that there are others out there thinking of ways to build better accelerator programs. What do you think of this list? What else should accelerators work to do to meet their mission of helping great ideas become great products?