Accelerating your startup

12 Aug, 2015

Following our previous blog about the value of co-working spaces for connecting and collaborating with people who could help your startup, we take a look at ‘accelerators’ and highlight those that are currently offering valuable opportunities to start up founders in the North.

In his Medium article ‘The Accelerator Manifesto’, Paul Smith (Co-Founder & CEO of the Ignite tech accelerator in Newcastle and soon Manchester and London) says:“an accelerator is a very specific offering — a programme of fixed length that adds value beyond initial investment to a cohort of several teams, and typically this will include mentoring, coaching, workshops and network opportunities.”

Indeed, Ignite teams in Newcastle are housed inside the Campus North co-working space which means they receive all the benefits that non-accelerator startups receive but also additional benefits that can increase their chances of success like ongoing mentoring, support and access to ‘one of the strongest angel networks in Europe.’

Meanwhile the Sheffield based accelerator Dotforge, is launching a new programme in Manchester in September.

The Manchester programme is focused on accelerating tech startups ‘that are creating new digital platforms that can benefit society’. If you are an innovative tech entrepreneur with an idea or start up that creates positive social impact then you can apply now for the Dotforge impact accelerator programme at The programme will run from September to December.

Dotforge invest £18,000 in each successful team entering the programme and connect the team, through a 13 week curriculum, to a network of friends, investors and advisors who will help with the creation and growth of the companies. After nine months there will be the opportunity to apply for up to a further £500,000.

Emma Cheshire (CEO and Co-Founder of Dotforge) said: “We have successfully graduated three programmes during the last two years and are delighted to expand our reach through locating at Central Working in Manchester and to offer our second accelerator focused on social entrepreneurs.” 

“Dotforge is an ever-growing family of founders, companies big and small in the UK across many sectors. Our aim is helping our new companies and teams to, not only build a product that people will love, but that will also benefit society or the environment.”

Scaling up

For teams that have already received seed funding or investment and are now looking to scale up, the 3 month Microsoft Ventures Accelerator is well worth considering: 49 out of the 50 of alumni companies have successfully raised Series A funding.

Microsoft Ventures are now taking applications for the next programme that starts in September. Founders must mostly base themselves at Microsoft Ventures’ office in London for the duration of the programme but this provides the opportunity to build valuable networks and relationships with investors, mentors and customers.

Do you need an accelerator?

Accelerators are not the only way you can start a business, build a team or raise investment but, as the name suggests, accelerators are a way to speed up your progress by giving you immediate access to things that can help you on your way such as mentors and investors.

What’s more, the money or investment might be the initial draw of an accelerator but it’s often all the other intangible benefits that are of the most value. For all this support it’s still down to you to have the right attitude, put in the work, leverage your network, create opportunities and make the most of any that come your way.

Paul Lancaster is a Community Engagement Manager at Tech North.

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