A Dialogue on Accelerator Programs: is it useless?

Lucas Carlson put himself out on the web (I respect that a lot) and challenge the usefulness of incubator and accelerator programs.

He penned this post, “Incubators are Bullshit”, and I couldn’t help but write a comment on his blog to voice my opinion. I strongly believe that accelerators are in the people business

My original comment on Lucas’s blog post

What seems to be “busy work” at incubators sometimes do amount to nothing. I’d like to share this with the incoming companies at JFDI.Asia (disclaimer: I manage the accelerator program) as a reminder of what not to do (endless hours of intro meetings with mentor whiplash) and what to seriously focus on (spend time with customers, focus on OKM, and on building and testing the product).

Lucas, I looked up and saw that you live in Portland—I don’t know the scene there—but not every part of the world has a strong know-how or a startup ecosystem that give entrepreneurs access to the type of Lean content you enjoy reading about (I spent a lot of time building out Lean Startup Machine in Asia and language barrier is huge) or access to smart investors and other successful entrepreneurs. The people that run accelerator programs often come to the conclusion that we need to help co-create a community that fosters a collaborative mentality; most of the accelerator managers (the serious ones in younger ecosystems that I know, and I know a number of them) approach this with the best intentions and biggest heart to make an attempt to do that, by bringing investors, mentors/serial entrepreneurs, young startups, partners together.

My objection to this piece is in how you frame the business of an accelerator. In my opinion, we are in a people’s business. What we hope to achieve is in creating the soft infrastructure for collaboration and focus, and make an impact in entrepreneurs’ lives. Yes, some of these guys that I have the pleasure of working with may never have access to Sand Hill road; I wake up everyday and see that what we do here actually change people’s lives, and, that, Lucas, is what I hope to share with you and your readership.

The experience is great. I tweeted at Lucas about the comment and he came back to say that he’d overlooked some of the things that I mentioned.

dialogue with Lucas.png

I have much respect for him to stand up for a belief and able to have a dialogue when another person challenged his viewpoint. I experienced that recently on my HackerNews blog post on where I thought humanity would be in the year 2043.

People really challenged me for what I wrote, and I learned a lot from the dialogue. I love the internet.


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