The Accelerator Experiment: Part II
It has now been two weeks since the VentureSpur pitch day, and guess what? We are still alive and kicking, though admittedly still trying to find our way through this maze called fundrasing.
In the first of this two-post series on startup accelerators, I talked about how VentureSpur and the startup accelerator movement are one of the key pieces to this emerging startup community in Oklahoma City. But now the question becomes, looking back on the last three months, was participating in an accelerator in the first place worth it?
Many will tell you that only the most recognizable accelerators like your Y-Combinators and TechStars of the world are worth anybody's time. I bought into this over the summer, but looking back just two weeks after "graduation," I sure am glad I took the leap.
We didn't dramatically increase our user numbers over the three months. We didn't have investors playing fastest finger with their checkbooks after pitch day. What we did get though was much more important: social proof.
Three months ago we were a relatively unknown startup tucked away in downtown OKC without a connection in the world. Today we've got connections all over the city, in every nook and cranny of the startup community. No, Mark Zuckerberg wasn't one of our mentors, but we've got something better. We are now connected with local entrepreneurs doing amazing things in this community, that care about the success of this community and our company.
In an established startup community like Silicon Valley, this might not be as important. But, in a place like Oklahoma City that is just in startup infancy, it makes all the difference in the world. People don't learn overnight to accept startups for what they are, it takes an effort from the startup community as a whole to move things forward, and social proof becomes something invaluable in this pursuit.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Brad Feld (founder of TechStars) at length leading up to our pitch day, and what he had to say about some of the topics he covers in his new book, Startup Communities, have been truly transformative. We are setting out to build an amazing company in GoldFire Studios, but we are also setting out to inspire a generation of startup growth in this amazing city. If nothing else comes out of this, that can at least be a lasting legacy we can all be proud to participate in.