5 Times You Should Rethink Joining an Accelerator

5 Times You Should Rethink Joining an Accelerator
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Thinking it may be time to accelerate and take the next step to success?  Before you go to Mach 10, it’s smart to think about accelerating in the right light. It’s not always the golden ticket to "greener" pastures that many are seeking.

I was part of the Imagine K12 accelerator, which funds startups in the education space akin to the prestige of the Y Combinator. While it was an amazing experience, accelerators aren't for everyone. As someone has gone through the program, I’ve been asked about when a venture should accelerate and when it’s better to put the brakes on.

Here are five scenarios that may make you think twice about putting the pedal to the medal:

1. You don’t have more than an idea. 

Great start but not enough to accelerate to the fast lane. It all comes down to demo day ,and if you’ve got little more than an idea, you’re not going to be able to compete with the fleshed out concepts in the room. After all, what’s a demo day without a demo?

Related: 7 Ways to Make Your Accelerator Application Stand Out

2. You don’t fit in. 

One of the most important keys to successful acceleration is finding the product-market fit.  When demo day comes, you not only want to show market opportunity, you also want to make sure you found that “sticky factor” and the best product-market fit to ensure you are the star of the show. Plus, you want to make sure your product or service makes sense for the investors attending the event.

Good planning is everything -- make that great planning. It takes a lot of work to be the star. Do your homework (pre-demo day) to make sure that not only are you a good fit for them but that they are a good fit for you. All accelerators are not created equal, so make sure to research outfits that suit your goals and values.

3. You don’t feel the need for speed.  

If you don’t think you can have a VC-backed company in three months, beware of joining an accelerator. 

During our experience at Imagine K12, we aced our demo day and within four weeks we had $9 million in VC on the table, which was nothing short of spectacular.  

When it comes to acceleration, you’ve got to be ready to rock and work with the pace of progress, not against it.  Once your hot deal gets attention, it closes fast. So you better get ready to sprint ahead of the pack.

Related: Joining an Accelerator? 8 Nuggets of Wisdom From Techstars NYC's Latest Grads.

4.  You don’t have traction or revenue. 

If you come to demo day unarmed with the basics like progress, buzz and earning potential, you’re going to fail. You must be prepared to succeed and be ready to speak to why you’re willing to give up a portion of your company. If you can’t take advantage of demo day, there’s no point in showing up. 

5. You don’t want to make a commitment. 

You could be a prime candidate for acceleration, but if you’re the type that prefers to keep everything in-house and not ready for external opinions, consider staying single because maybe you’re not ready to mingle. And that’s OK, because the wrong fit in personality or point of view may be more of a distraction than anything else. If you’re more of a lone wolf or commitment phobe, taking the acceleration plunge may not be right for you.

Getting funded or going it alone are both solid options for the modern entrepreneur. No matter which path you choose to go they both require passion, persistence and a well-executed idea to keep moving forward.

Related: Due Diligence on Accelerators -- What Entrepreneurs Need to Know