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This New Tool Helps Social Entrepreneurs Pick The Right Accelerator For Them

Want a boost for your business for good? It can be hard finding the right one. Now you can narrow down your options quickly and easily.

This New Tool Helps Social Entrepreneurs Pick The Right Accelerator For Them
“I feel like entrepreneurs should be spending time building their businesses, not figuring out which program can provide the right support.” [Illustration: agsandrew/iStock]

It’s a good time to be a social entrepreneur. There are now hundreds of accelerators focused on social impact, offering cash and advice to help get your company off the ground. But that abundance of choice also makes it harder for a startup to comb through websites and find the right program to join. A new tool helps entrepreneurs narrow down the options.

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If you work on food security or clean water or pollution prevention–or on one of more than 30 other issue areas–the tool narrows a list of 750 accelerators to those that are most relevant. The tool also filters by the location a startup aims to help, the type of business or nonprofit, the type of help the accelerator can provide, and the stage of the enterprise, from an idea to a business with strong revenue.

“If you’re a growth-stage enterprise looking for capital, you don’t want to be applying to a business plan competition.” [Illustration: agsandrew/iStock]
The tool was developed by Conveners.org, a nonprofit that works to make the world of social impact more efficient. “Many of the entrepreneurs I talk to said that one of the things that took a lot of their time–sometimes as much as 100 hours–was figuring out what accelerator to apply to,” says Avary Kent, the nonprofit’s executive director. “I feel like entrepreneurs should be spending time building their businesses, not figuring out which program can provide the right support.”

A future version of the tool may also include lists of the startups that have gone through each program. [Illustration: agsandrew/iStock]
In many cases, she says, entrepreneurs apply for a particular program–for example, Echoing Green or Uncharted or the Global Social Venture Competition–because a program is well-known, not because it’s a necessarily right for them. “If you’re a growth-stage enterprise looking for capital, you don’t want to be applying to a business plan competition,” she says.

“Many of the entrepreneurs I talk to said that one of the things that took a lot of their time–sometimes as much as 100 hours–was figuring out what accelerator to apply to.” [Illustration: agsandrew/iStock]
The tool could be equally useful for accelerators themselves. An organization launching a new program will be able to research similar existing accelerators. When a program has more qualified applicants than it can accommodate, it can refer startups to other programs. A future version of the tool may also include lists of the startups that have gone through each program, which could be used by foundations looking for new businesses and nonprofits to support.

“We want the ecosystem to be more effective and more efficient,” says Kent. “That comes from tools and resources that help people connect the dots and share information more easily.”


Correction: We’ve corrected this article to correctly spell Kent’s first name.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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