If you are an entrepreneur in Tennessee, the most important step you can take is the first one – get started. Here are some frequently asked questions about how – and why – you should get connected to Tennessee’s network of regional accelerators.
- What is an accelerator?
- Who can get help from an accelerator?
- What’s the difference in an accelerator and an incubator?
- What do you actually do at an accelerator?
- What’s unique about the accelerator network in Tennessee?
- How do I get my startup connected to the right accelerator?
- I live in East Tennessee but the accelerator that specializes in my industry is in West Tennessee. Which one do I go to?
- How much does an accelerator consultation cost?
- What’s the application process?
- Can I work while attending a regional accelerator?
- What do I need to have prepared for my first accelerator meeting?
Q. What is an accelerator?
Accelerators are physical places where experts provide guidance, resources and support to startups. They are often industry-specific, specializing in fields like big data, medical devices, agriculture or the automotive industry. They can be freestanding institutions or affiliated with a company or research institute.
In Tennessee, each accelerator serves as a front door for aspiring or current entrepreneurs. Accelerators help get businesses to the next level through:
- Capital connections
- Industry-specific introductions
Q. Who can get help from an accelerator?
Any aspiring or current entrepreneur.
Q. What’s the difference in an accelerator and an incubator?
Accelerators help develop high growth startups in a relatively short period of time. The programs have a start and end date, and they also help entrepreneurs find capital and investors.
An incubator focuses more on sharing a workspace with other companies or startups to keep costs down. The priority there is reducing expense rather than refining products or ideas.
Q. What do you actually do at an accelerator?
Accelerators give entrepreneurs the knowledge and tools they need to be able to go out and fly on their own. Often this is done through a 90- or 100-day “boot camp” that helps entrepreneurs go from idea to investible story. At its core, it’s a cycle of testing, refining and feedback.
Q. What’s unique about the accelerator network in Tennessee?
We are the only statewide, connected network of accelerators across the country. That means each of our nine accelerators has access to – and an understanding of – what’s happening at all the others, and we can pool our resources and reach to commercialize the best ideas.
Looking to the future, we are rapidly building our sector-focused programs. So if your business or product has a healthcare-specific focus, there is going to be a location that’s most beneficial to you.
Q. How do I get my startup connected to the right accelerator?
Contact your regional accelerator first. They are the first stop in our network, and they can help you figure out what your next step should be.
Find a regional accelerator near you.
Q. I live in East Tennessee but the accelerator that specializes in my industry is in West Tennessee. Which one do I go to?
Most likely, you would ultimately go to the accelerator specializing in your industry, but the first step is contacting your local accelerator. They will get you into the network and connect you with the right people.
Q. How much does an accelerator consultation cost?
Consultations are always free.
Some accelerators charge for boot camps, programs or curriculum, but the first screening meeting is always free.
Request a consultation.
Q. What’s the application process?
- Contact your regional accelerator.
- Set up a screening meeting. At this meeting you’ll meet a staff member or mentor and tell them what you’re passionate about. You’ll discuss what you’re working on and help them get an understanding of where you are in that process.
- Determine next steps. The accelerator will help you figure out if your idea is marketable, whether it needs more work, or if you’re ready to apply for an accelerator program now.
Q. Can I work while attending a regional accelerator?
In the beginning stages of this process – the three steps listed above – you can continue to work. Once you’re accepted to a full-scale program, though, you will need at least three months to focus solely on developing your product in the program.
Q. What do I need to have prepared for my first accelerator meeting?
Fill out this form.
If you have a question or a concern, please contact us.