7 Things We Learned in a Startup Accelerator


Guest post by Andrea Martins, Co-Founder GreenSocks

Six months ago, Richard Eastes and I were working hard in our Uber-for-lawn-mowing startup GreenSocks when we got news that we were one of five teams accepted into Brisbane’s inaugural muru-D/River City Labs startup accelerator program. We were thrilled at the $20,000 cash injection and stoked that the judging panel believed in us.

Six months later, we are now accelerator graduates and everyone around us wants to know… “Was it worth it?” and “What did you learn?”

Our response?

Yes, it was definitely worth the long hours and the seemingly endless commute. As to what we learned, here is a list of our top ten:

7 Things We Learned in a Startup Accelerator

Six months ago, Richard Eastes and I were working hard in our Uber-for-lawn-mowing startup GreenSocks when we got news that we were one of five teams accepted into Brisbane’s inaugural muru-D/River City Labs startup accelerator program. We were thrilled at the $20,000 cash injection and stoked that the judging panel believed in us.

Six months later, we are now accelerator graduates and everyone around us wants to know… “Was it worth it?” and “What did you learn?”

Our response?

Yes, it was definitely worth the long hours and the seemingly endless commute. As to what we learned, here is a list of our top ten:

  • Investors have heard your idea before. Some Venture Capital firms meet in excess of 500 startups a year. This means that they have usually heard your idea (or a very close variation of it) before. So, to wow them, your investor pitch has to have something compelling in it that was missing from the pitch of your competitors.
  • Traction trumps opinion. Even if an investor thinks your idea will fail, they will happily entertain it if you can prove you already have awesome customer traction. So if you’re not getting any bites from potential investors, go out and earn yourself better customer traction.
  • The more you share, the more you gain. At many a crowded event during our accelerator program, we networked with others in the Australian and international startup ecosystem. Rather than projecting the image of a startup who had all the answers, we found that the more we talked about our hiccups and hurdles, the more help was offered to us by others in the room.
  • Repeat customers are like gold. A positive anomaly in your repeat customer rate is an indication that your company is potentially destined for amazing things. So, look after your customers with a passion and always be asking them how you can improve
  • Focus, focus, focus. It’s better to narrow in on only one niche than to try to serve everyone from day one. In our case, this was consistent with our strategy to service lawn mowing first, rather than all of home services. But some mentors suggested that even lawn mowing was too large and that we needed to hone in on only one geographical area before expanding further.
  • Be sure of your economics. Not all teams finished the accelerator with the same business model as when they entered the program. This was due to some “brutally honest feedback” sessions, which pushed us all to think and re-think how our startups would make money and whether there were alternative revenue streams that made more long-term sense for our concepts.
  • There are no silver bullets. Every team was grinding before the accelerator and every team is still grinding after the accelerator. Because at the end of the day, accelerator funding and mentoring gives you a boost, but it’s still up to you to make your startup a success story. Good luck!

To see what else we learned, including specific insights from our accelerator’s guest speakers and master classes, feel free to come visit our startup blog. This is where we’re trying to #payitforward to Australia’s startup community by sharing the best gems of wisdom from our accelerator experience and much more. Enjoy!

Ps. For the record, yes, we recently switched GreenSocks to Microsoft Azure and we are loving it. But that’s a whole new blog post for another day.

Comments (1)

  1. Great lessons Andrea! The realities of #startuplife is the grind to get the traction. The accelerator certainly is worthwhile so if anyone is considering applying for the next intake, my advice is get traction and be in the financial position to be on it full time.