As part of my Queen’s MBA we don’t do a thesis, each student crafts a new venture business plan. Because I’ve been excited by the potential of the startup accelerator model, I created a plan for an accelerator based in Vancouver and inspired by Bootup, Y-C, and TechStars. I believe, and I know I’m not alone, that when dealing with very early stage teams it’s IMPERATIVE that the investment be paired with a strong mentorship presence and a lot of coaching and learning.
I’m proud to publish the full business plan here, I’ve redacted a few names that I included without their permission pending a response from them.
What I’m especially proud of are a few innovations that I think are necessary:
- The investor portal (pp 6 and 16) – in Canada, the biggest issue is raising the funds for investment. I want to create a lightweight and very public system that allows many small investors to participate, which does three things:
- Fulfill the capital requirements with a MINIMUM of partner time spent, especially in subsequent rounds
- Communicate clearly and frequently with investors, increasing their satisfaction at participating, and creating a lot of engagement with investors and potential investors, leading to higher repeat investment
- Generates a lot of publicity and attention, creating a high level of investor awareness and participation
- The creation of an endowment fund (pp 11, 12), which receives a portion of the exit funds on behalf of both the investors and the management, so on an ongoing basis the reliance on additional fundraising is reduced, and the management and investors who worked on one round will have a limited participation in all future rounds.
- A focus on coaching startups as high-performance teams. Mentorship on product development and pitching is valuable, but as I say on page 7:
Our initial education program will be significantly different from those of other accelerators in its inclusion of content for improving personal effectiveness and coaching high-performance team practices in the startups. The short length of the program means that one of the most effective things we can do to improve the success rate of our graduates is to improve their ability to perform both individually and within their team long after their graduation. We intend to outperform our peers in this market in part through helping to launch more productive, better performing, and emotionally healthier teams.
Why aren’t I starting this? This plan has one significant weakness, which I included intentionally for the purposes of this as an academic project: even with the innovations around investor attraction and retention, it’s probably not possible to operate an accelerator as a going concern in Canada that requires annual fundraising. The successful American accelerators and angel funds are backed by $30+million endowments that remove the uncertainty of funding next year’s cohorts and the partner time required to go fundraising.
Here it is, in all it’s glory. I must give significant credit to Boris and Danny of Bootup Labs for their knowledge and assistance, to Jed Christiansen for his thesis analyzing the accelerator model, and to Ben and Mack from Compass Engine who helped with the founder perspective.