Dear Joe: Do Business Accelerators (Really) Work?

After our recent podcast with Techstars President David Brown, several listeners asked me if the "business accelerator" model actually works. My answer is a qualified yes. 

Working with a business accelerator is a bit like joining gym and hiring a personal trainer. In both cases, you need to find the right facility and the right mentor. Then you have to "hit the gym" every day, focusing on your short- and long-term goals while tuning out external distractions.

One prime example: Distil Networks CEO Rami Essaid, in our latest podcast, describes how he worked with Techstars to accelerate his business, gain timely advice, raise $10 million, and find the right talent. As Essaid put it, working with an accelerator is a bit like squeezing a year's worth of experience, progress and business development into three months.

Still, I realize all mentoring industries -- executive coaching, incubators, accelerators, etc. -- have good and bad components. Certainly, the accelerator industry has some "pretender" companies that are good at offering advice -- but is it the right advice?

If you're working with an accelerator and want to describe the experience, give me a shout via email. I look forward to the details -- either on or off the record.

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