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Accelerators Should Go Earlier

I’ve heard a similar story from a number of accelerators these days. It goes something like this: “We’ve decided to try to work with companies that are a little further along. It allows us to have a bigger impact on the companies when there is more meat on the bones.”

This makes some sense to me. And I also understand that these accelerators are increasingly being judged by institutional standards. In the pressure to show success, you want to have a high % of companies get funded at decent valuations and a low mortality rate.

But I’ve been thinking recently that most of the time, when we pass on a company that comes out of an accelerator, it’s not because the company failed to make enough progress. It’s also not because we don’t like the founders – often, you are very impressed by what they’ve accomplished in a short amount of time.

Usually, I pass because I don’t love the idea. Too safe, too unoriginal, not in my area of interest, whatever.

I know that’s probably anathema in a lean-startup world. But increasingly, I’ve been thinking more in the “Deterministic-Optimistic” frame of mind. I’m caring less these days about early traction or getting a product a few people are willing to pay for.  I’m more interested in companies that think they know how to reorganize, transform, or invent entire industries.  I like the lean methodology, but only as a means to an end.

It’s harder to do that with startups that are a bit further along.  It’s too hard to start over and too easy to make the most of what you have.  Plus, part of the magic of accelerators in the startup ecosystem is the ability to take extraordinary people and let crazy ideas bloom a little.

Rob Go

Thanks for reading! Here’s a quick background on who I am: 1. My name is Rob, I live in Lexington, MA 2. I’m married and have two young daughters. My wife and I met in college at Duke University - Go Blue Devils! 3. We really love our church in Arlington, MA. It’s called Highrock and it’s a wonderful and vibrant community.  Email me if you want to visit! 4. I grew up in the Philippines (ages 0-9) and Hong Kong (ages 9-17). 5. I am a cofounder of NextView Ventures, a seed stage investment firm focused on internet enabled innovation. I try to spend as much time as possible working with entrepreneurs and investing in businesses that are trying to solve important problems for everyday people.   6. The best way to reach me is by email: rob at nextviewventures dot com