Ignite it! Entering a Startup Accelerator

ignite 100

ignite 100

It’s not every day you get to cross a Life Goal off your to do list.

That’s exactly what Andy (my business co-founder, awesome developer dude & lover of Muller fruit corners), and I are doing.  We have entered a startup  into a startup accelerator.

Entering a startup in a startup accelerator has ben on my Life Goal list for the past 2 years now, and last week we quit our jobs and entered Ignite 100 – a startup accelerator program in Newcastle in the North-East of England, with our new company Future Ad Labs.

Exciting times.

You What?

Those of you that have been following this blog know that I’ve had this one my ‘to do list’ for a while, but it’s happened so fast I just haven’t has  chance to write about it yet. Like everything – When stuff happens, it happens fast.

Andy and myself (and 11 others, who aren’t with us anymore) formed a team at Startup Weekend London in July, armed with an idea we all believed in. We all worked our asses off that weekend – an awesome group of guys. I knew the deadline for the Ignite 100 startup accelerator was 8am Monday morning (Andy worked till 6am working on the prototypes #legend), we got the application in, got accepted, quit our jobs and 1 month later here we are in Newcastle, starting the Ignite 100 program with 10 other startup teams.

Rock on!

Those of you not familiar with startup accelerators – a quick recap: imagine a program where a cohort of startups come together, get seed funding (we get up to £100k in Ignite 100),  tons of mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs & access to an awesome network. The program lasts 13 weeks and culminates at Demo Day where we pitch to investors for potential further investment, should we need it. Here’s some info about what people learn at startup accelerators.

For us, it gave us the little bit of validation, money and time, to think – ‘this is worth quitting our jobs for’.

The Risks

As with everything, a startup accelerator doesn’t come without risks. And there are some biggies for us.

  • Quitting my job: I wrote previously about how I got a dream job. It was the prefect job, walking away from it wasn’t easy
  • Stock: when quitting this job I had to leave stock options on the table. Stock options I fully believe will be worth big bucks when my last company company gets bought out in a few years
  • No guarantees: The startup accelerator comes with no guarantee of success – indeed if we don’t hit our milestones we don’t get our full funding at the end of the program (£90k GBP at stake)
  • Drop in salary: Both Andy and myself have taken a pay cut to do this. It means tightening our belts in the short term

Obviously by being here, we didn’t let these things stop us :)

We felt that worst case scenario, even if we did go bust in a few months, we’d have ‘gone for it’ and learnt sh!t loads – and that’s not so bad a scenario at all.

Aiming High

So what will we be aiming for over the next 13 weeks of the Ignite 100 startup accelerator?

Over the next 13 weeks Andy & myself have set ourselves some really aggressive targets. Our aim on Demo Day is nothing less than knocking it out of the park. These include

  • Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
  • Go to market and get on board some real, big name clients
  • Formalize our business plan, advisory board and investment plan
  • Knock our Demo Day presentation out of the park & get the investment we need to take things to the next level

I’ll be introducing you to what our business is, how we plan to bring it market and all we’re learning along the way over the coming weeks

Wish us luck :)

 You Turn: You entered, or ever thought of entering into a startup accelerator before? Share your experiences in the comments below