Educating Emerging Entrepreneurs
The Accelerator programme has to date been covered by the FT, Fresh Business Thinking, Angel News, Nesta and Innovation Investment Journal.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:
“The Accelerator Academy represents exactly the type of investment in London’s future businesses that will secure our position as Europe’s digital capital. Using the nous of seasoned entrepreneurs to mentor those in the very early stages, alongside much needed access to investment, the Academy will give tech entrepreneurs a real leg up in a tough economic climate, helping to create London’s future jobs.”
The Financial Times (29/10/11):
Support for media start-ups
“An incubator programme aimed at nurturing innovative technology, media and telecoms companies has been launched with the backing of London mayor Boris Johnson.
The Accelerator Academy will provide 12 weeks of training, guidance and investment support for up to 100 founders a year of companies that have yet to launch or are in their first year of trading.
Guidance will be offered by a group of mentors, all of whom have successfully sold at least one technology, media or telecoms business. These people will have the right to buy in to participating businesses. Access to seed capital will be made through the Accelerator Fund and an investment syndicate.
The programme was created by Ian Merricks, managing partner of White Horse Capital, an technology, media and telecoms investment adviser, and is backed by NatWest and accountancy firm Haysmacintyre.”
TechCrunch by Mike Butcher, on November 7, 2011:
Accelerator Academy launches in London with ‘elite’ mentors
In recent years the fashion of incubating companies in physical spaces (desk, Wifi, funding combinations) has faded in favour of The Accelerator. These are typically a programme of a few weeks combined with teaching, networking and funding. In the UK we’ve seen Seedcamp, then SpringBoard then The Oxygen Accelerator appear, among others. Today another joins the pack, The Accelerator Academy, out of London. This time, however, it’s attempting to up the accelerator ‘arms race’ with only post-exit mentors, although it’s charging model is unconventional for something that bills itself as an accelerator (see update below).
Billing itself as a new ‘training, mentoring and investment programme’ for innovative start-ups and early stage, high growth businesses in Tech/Media/Telecoms it’s aimed at pre-launch or first year businesses. The 12 week part time syllabus aims to cover all the bases of product development, market strategies, investor readiness etc, the list goes on.
At present its not a formal fund, its a syndicate, moving to a seed fund of up to £10m in April, under the new BASIS seed investment tax incentives (extension of EIS scheme). Companies sell 3-5% in paid options to the Mentors and Academy (3% if trading, 5% if pre-revenue). The valuation is linked to the valuation of the next fundraising.
By comparison Seedcamp takes an 8-10% cut, Springboard a 6% cut, along the Ycombinator model. Meanwhile there are rumours Springboard plans to launch in London later this year.
Accelerator Academy is slightly different however. Whereas you will meet mentors from a range of backgrounds at other events, the Academy people are restricting their mentors only to people who have successfully exited at least one TMT business. Mentors also have the right to “buy in” to the businesses that are developed, something which happens less on other programmes where terms can be more restrictive. The Accelerator Academy is aiming to help create up to 100 companies per year.
And they have the approval of Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who, in statement, said: “The Accelerator Academy represents exactly the type of investment in London’s future businesses that will secure our position as Europe’s digital capital.” Well, he would say that, admittedly.
Ian Merricks, founder of the Accelerator Academy and Managing Partner at TMT investment advisors White Horse Capital says “We see 500 businesses a year looking for investment. It’s a competitive process, and frankly most are not of sufficient quality to be successful… The Accelerator Academy was created to educate emerging entrepreneurs, with training around growth issues for start-ups, delivered by successful entrepreneurs as mentors, and supported by access to appropriate seed capital or “smart money”.”
Sponsoring the launch of the Academy are NatWest and haysmacintyre Accountants.
Personally I think the more the merrier and given that White Horse Capital has a verifiable track record in this area I see no reason why entrepreneurs should kick the tyres on this new entrant and see what they have to offer before making a decision.
Looking down the list of speakers I recognised Simon Campbell of SoDash and the Sandpit as a mentor so that’s a decent badge of recognition for me at least.