Startups can get weekly accelerator invitations. How to decide which one is worth giving up time or even equity? As a startup, we went through three (Microsoft Accelerator, RetailTechHub, PwC ScaleUp) and are now entering the fourth accelerator program (Telekom Techboost) – Links below. Therefore, it’s time for a comparison. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of how to judge your own accelerator participation.
Microsoft Accelerator – our first love
Back in 2015, we were young(er), had just switched the business model (from recommend.to) and we were looking from the balcony of our new office and saw the Brandenburger Tor. The accelerator back then was full of fresh startups and has since switched their focus to later-stage startups. Still, we believe the Microsoft Accelerator has 3 big things still going for it.
- The Microsoft Name
- Mentors & Team
- Great tech deal
The Microsoft Name:
When talking to corporate clients, having a long resume as a startup is difficult. Thus, having the Microsoft name attached is helpful. It opens doors and gets you meetings. The name has even gotten better over the years with Microsoft shedding some of its “square” image, in favor of creative and innovative freedom.
Mentors and Team:
Every accelerator has mentors and a great team. The right question to ask is, are they available to work with us on our problems? Will the team be proactive or do you have to help them help you? On both accounts, the answer was a big yes. Mentors were selected carefully and each startup got only one, two at the most. Having a single resource makes communication and responsibility attribution a lot easier. Otherwise, you may get 6 mentors who you can’t know well enough to get a lot of value out of them. The team was likewise very dedicated. Over the years, we have often come back to relevant corporate events, there are yearly alumni dinners and they started organizing amazing events worldwide to have the startups from the different accelerators mingle and learn from each other.
Azure Tech deal:
We got 500k in Azure credits to be used in 3 years. That’s a huge amount and the Azure cloud offers a straight forward portal to use them very efficiently. There’s even an automated advisor that helps you to reduce unnecessary costs. The Azure team is likewise proactive in telling you about new features and calling you by phone to invite you to webinars and Q&A sessions. With Azure, you do get what you pay for. And if it’s free its extremely helpful for a startup to enjoy a very high-quality cloud infrastructure.
Self-reflection & final notes:
We got a lot out of this experience. The care and professionalism of the accelerator in Berlin and London were unparalleled. However, they only accept later stage startups now. Also, Microsoft is not known for its marketing tech. As a marketing AI startup, we couldn’t always align with what people expected from Microsoft.
Thank you to everyone we met at or through the Microsoft Accelerator so far, we’re looking forward to doing more epic shit in the future!