A Little Validation for our Acceleration

| No responses | Posted by: Greg Winfield | Theme: Social Innovation & Investment

When I first read “The case against Demo Days” by Keith Ippel, MD of Invoke Labs I was distracted by the heading on the Fast Company website – “How to be successful at everything”.

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As you might imagine, I read through with bated breath, eagerly anticipating an enterprise epiphany. I waited, hopefully. During this wait I did indeed start to feel something – but this was a sense of smugness- or to cast it in a better light, validation. Not the answer to all my pitching prayers, but highly positive nonetheless.

For those of you who haven’t read the article yet (and just to be clear, I do recommend it) here’s a summary:

Massive events where hundreds of investors listen to dozens of 5 minute pitches are boring and ineffectual.

So why the smugness? Here on The Accelerator we’ve just had the Demo Day for our 2013 social venture Accelerator programme. Here are a few numbers:

  • 15 social investors
  • 7 ambitious social ventures looking for funding to scale up
  • 1 nicely informal, comfortable room
  • 45 minutes of pitching and discussion
  • Plenty of breaks to take a breather in the garden

We designed our programme following extensive research of the Accelerator market, especially the huge US tech accelerator scene, and set our goals. The investors understand our course, our aims and our style. They also trust us on the quality of organisations that will be put before them. Having taken social ventures on a 4 month course to help them review, renew and refine their proposition, Demo Day is where it’s all put into practice. It’s where we start the conversations, then over the coming months the social ventures (with our support) make those conversations a little more ‘useful’ in terms of supporting their growth.

The 10 social ventures of our 2012 Accelerator presented 6 months ago. Since then we’ve seen substantial investment going into those organisations and many more discussions on-going. That the investors have said they are already greatly looking forward to the next one speaks volumes about what we are building.

So our Demo Day (and preceding Accelerator programme) isn’t the answer to everything, but for getting social funders talking to social ventures and making real progress towards social impact, we think it’s a great success. Thanks for the validation, Keith!

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