Unlike accelerator programmes that jump straight into accelerating a startup with a confirmed business idea, pre-accelerator programmes are like a marketing strategy phase.

Dedicated to early-stage founders, pre-accelerators help to give an indication of where your idea stands in the market and how well it will appeal to your potential customers. In a sentence, it is a high-growth results-driven startup programme designed for early-stage founders.

As Robin Wauters from tech.eu said about pre-accelerators,

“Pre-accelerator programmes essentially cater to people with ideas (or not even that yet) who are gearing up to join a ‘proper’ startup accelerator such as Y Combinator or Techstars, or for an early product launch – but aren’t quite ready yet.”

Applying to a pre-accelerator requires work; though catered to early-stage startups there is still expectations to meet for companies hoping to get into the programme. The fact is that pre-accelerator programmes typically have low acceptance rates.

This year, we kick-started The Start, our inaugural pre-accelerator programme powered by StartupX, and selected 10 teams to be part of the programme. The selection process required our team at StartupX to be objective, smart and rational about the decisions we made.

Here are some tips early-stage founders can follow to get a spot in our next pre-accelerator programme.

Be transparent about your startup

It can be enticing to exaggerate about the achievements made by your startup to put you at a better position when applying for such programmes.

However, all companies appreciate honesty, especially from the startups that they are going to partner with. We want to be able to understand you completely, including your past mistakes and current struggles. Being transparent about your company will allow us to provide you with the relevant resources needed to achieve the most efficient results during the pre-accelerator journey.

In essence, we only want what is best for you. So, be honest and transparent, and we will try to help you with the best of our abilities.

Do your prior research on the people you are trying to impress

Take some time to learn about the programme you are applying for, the company running the programme, and the team behind it! Ensure that the programme is the right fit for your company and that their values are aligned with yours.

It is important to have trust and confidence in the programme that you are participating in, because it encourages you to give your hundred percent throughout the course of it.

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Besides, companies are usually impressed when applicants are able to point out how the programme is able to help them grow and achieve specific goals that they have set for themselves.

Highlight your experiences and achievements

Unlike normal accelerators, pre-accelerators do not place a focus on traction or numbers. We understand that at such an early stage, ideas are still being built and founders are still searching for funding.

Therefore, being able to showcase your other achievements can increase your chances of being noticed by the pre-accelerator.

Come with a good attitude

Apart from funding, the highlight of a pre-accelerator programme is the mentoring sessions specially planned out for participants.

A good pre-accelerator programme usually brings together the best mentors in the industry to help its startups in specific areas they require help with; they are dedicated to supporting and coaching participants in the programme.

These mentors are more than willing to spend their time and effort on participants, however, they like to see their efforts being reciprocated.

Therefore, pre-accelerators have to consider the attitude of the founders applying for the programme as one of the criteria of a successful application. It is important to select founders who properly deserve a spot in the programme, especially since there is a limit to the number of teams a pre-accelerator programme is able to support per cohort.

#TheStart mentorship by two powerhouses – Ng Aik Phong, Managing Director at Fave; Quek Siu Rui, Co-founder & CEO at Carousell.

Have a solid team

At StartupX, we value companies with a strong and solid team of co-founders and employees.

At such an early stage for companies, we put a strong emphasis on the quality of teams because we believe that the team plays a crucial role in driving the success of a startup. Your team will always be your most valuable asset in a startup, hence we take into account the makeup of your team and the chemistry between all co-founders and employees.

Fortunately for early-stage founders, pre-accelerator programmes do not look at how good your traction is. In fact, pre-accelerator programmes are there to help you get your first paying customers; to validate your idea.

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If you think The Start Pre-Accelerator could be just the programme for you, start your journey with us. We’ll be sure to notify you when applications are open for our next cohort of early-stage founders in Singapore. We want to watch you grow and begin an exciting entrepreneurial journey!

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash