There is a lot of hype in the startup world about getting into an accelerator program. If you are not familiar, an accelerator program is a bootcamp so to speak, that helps your startup scale faster and develop a better product through mentoring and tapping into hoards of industry knowledge. These sorts of programs are definitely helpful if you know how to pitch and if you have the knowledge, background, and persona to carry you and your team into it.
Applications seem so easy, and I have filled out a few myself. I've filled out applications for some of the most 'prestigious' accelerators like ycombinator and 500startups. All have come back with resounding noes. It wasn't that my product or platform or even my idea wasn't good enough, it was that I didn't posses the secret sauce of what these accelerators were looking for in founders. This doesn't make me a bad founder at all. Simply put, I didn't match their investment goals or strategy. And that is okay.
I learned a lot from my failed applications, and even more from my experiences trying to learn and grow a company with no venture funding and actually not any money coming from my pocket other than the hosting fees and costs to keep the website going. I approached my startups with the wrong mindset. And strangely enough, it wasn't until watching and listening to other companies and founders go through the same struggles, that I figured out what was actually the right path for my company.
When you start a company with a revolutionary idea, you always seem to run into the problem of money. With this problem looming, you tend to lose focus on what you are actually trying to do, that being innovate a market or trend that doesn't work well enough. You're trying to solve a problem. And the problem with seeking money is you lose your vision. You get so bogged down by the fact that one, you probably don't really have that much money for yourself let alone you startup, but you realize what your real motives for starting a business were. And that being making money.
I've struggled with this problem a lot. especially with the situation I'm going through. With the attitude that "if I just had enough money" or "if I had just enough time" that I could get rich and make money off my idea. But I start getting wishy washy about my own idea and abandon it. I get broken by the very thing a strong and lasting product will generate. I've realized I shouldn't worry about money.
When watching this video by Inc about GoldieBox I realized too that I was so focused on getting into a prestigious accelerator that I stopped developing my product. I acted too much like a CEO and not enough like the developer I needed to be to get my products and platforms off the ground. I lost my passion for what I was building. When I took the time to develop my passions I made some pretty cool things. I developed an app that I never got to complete or publish that would better help connect locals with contractors without having to search or vet them prior. I was learning things about User Experience and Interfaces that I never understood before. But I got caught up in the money part.
The problem is, when you get caught up in the money part you will never make a dime. I should have stayed focused on the product part. Building, Testing, Launching, Analyzing, Fixing bugs, Launching again, and repeating until I got my product and vision right.
These were costly mistakes. I wasted almost two years on a startup called FullPlate that never went anywhere. I became so focused in the money and the accelerators that I left my own developer hanging for all the work needing done. I shouldn't of done that, and I know there are many startups out there in this very same situation. It got to a point where I recently shut FullPlate down. I lost my vision & purpose, and because of that I had to let it go.
If you are going through this, take heart. Don't worry about the money. Most importantly, don't worry about the accelerators. Don't worry about the prestige or the millions or billions you could make. It's taken me many years and half a dozen failed companies to realize that those things come in time if I remember to be passionate about what I am building. So please, skip the accelerators and the investors. Focus on your product and the passion behind it. If you work at it, pivot and adapt when you need to, you will do okay.
If you make it your hobby first, you'll find passion. When you find your passion, you'll find your people and your audience. And when you find those two things, you'll find your calling. Keep your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds.
There are plenty of books out there to help you with the "making a hobby out of your ideas" that are great. But I definitely recommend "The $100 Startup" by Chris Guillebeau.
How The Founder of GoldieBox Overcame the Biggest Rejection of her life: http://www.inc.com/debbie-sterling/how-the-founder-of-goldieblox-overcame-the-biggest-rejection-of-her-life.html
"The $100 Startup" by Chris Guillebeau: https://www.amazon.com/100-Startup-Reinvent-Living-Create-ebook/dp/B0067TGSOK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489008053&sr=8-1&keywords=the+%24100+startup
The Oak Tech Blog is authored by Seth Kerr. An avid and Expert Weebly Designer and Social Media Designer. Seth seeks to offer tips and advice for helping you grow your business and social media presence.