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Lantum’s top tips to get the most out of an accelerator programme

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By: Melissa Morris, CEO and Founder of Lantum.

Raising capital is a labour-intensive task that can be stressful, time-consuming, and for many, unsuccessful. Investors are keen to see traction, but this can be particularly challenging to manage when your start-up has a limited workforce and no dedicated sales team other than founders themselves. Accelerator programmes provide a great solution to these issues, promising a significant ROI for the lifetime of your business.

Lantum joined 3 accelerators: the Cedars-Sinai accelerator in LA, the NHS Innovation Accelerator in the UK, and the TMCX accelerator at Texas Medical Centre in Houston. In addition to often providing essential funding, these programmes granted us access to healthcare mentors and potential clients. As the best accelerators are highly competitive and offer a limited window to capitalise on the opportunity, it is crucial to use your time strategically. Below are my key takeaways to help you enter, and optimise your time on an accelerator programme.

Get to grips with the brief

It is important to understand the accelerator’s scope and application criteria. Spend time researching the priorities of your sector and those of the key stakeholders associated with the programme. This will provide you with a valuable insight to what will engage them pre-interview , allowing you to position your offering as a unique solution to their hot topics. Study any written material produced by the accelerator and identify keywords that you can repurpose in your own application. By mirroring the same language as your judges, you will demonstrate that you have an in-depth understanding of their passions .

Identify what you can offer to the programme 

Embarking on a working relationship with an accelerator programme extends beyond simply optimising for your own needs: consider also what you can give back. Accelerators will be more receptive to candidates who contribute to the programme’s culture and facilitate a productive working environment for all stakeholders. For example, as one of the only Brits on the American accelerator programmes, I offered to share my NHS knowledge and bridge connections with those who were interested in expanding to the UK. Likewise, after joining the NHS Innovation Accelerator, I made sure to mention the programme in press articles to help publicise their work.

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Pick an interdisciplinary team for maximum effectiveness

Next, consider which team members would be the most valuable additions to the accelerator programme. Ideally, you should aim to send a cross-section of skill sets: project managers, designers, operations managers and engineers are all essential to oversee the operational aspects of launching your product. The founder should focus on selling the business at this stage, so accounting for further salespeople should not be a priority.

Find someone to manage the business while you dedicate time to the programme 

If your accelerator is abroad, appoint someone to manage the business back home in your absence. This will allow you to focus your efforts on this once in a lifetime opportunity, safe in the knowledge that everything is under control back home. Although some early stage companies chose to deprioritise their home market, this is a risk that I would avoid if possible.

Be choosy with opportunities

Whilst accelerators are renowned for their abundance of opportunities to connect with clients, it is essential not to rush to the first pilot that emerges. As you have a limited timeframe to prove your capacity to solve an industry issue, you must be tactical and only select opportunities that align with your start-up’s capabilities. To manage this, I recommend meeting as many potential pilot partners as possible during the initial phase of the programme. Ask each individual that you encounter through this scheme whether they can direct you towards additional contacts and learning opportunities. The accelerator’s dedicated team will also be invaluable in facilitating these relationships, so make sure to provide them with a thorough and realistic outline of the problems you can solve.

Once you have secured meetings, assess the opportunity using the following criteria: a product’s compatibility with the use case, the time to launch your solution, the sponsor’s appetite (willingness to pay is a useful indicator for this), and the size of the opportunity. Of these considerations, prioritise product fit to avoid overpromising and failing to deliver anything over the duration of the programme. Even if you start with a small market, a rapid turnaround will provide a crucial first step in entering the market, as well as a case-study to inform your upcoming expansion plans.

Author Bio: Melissa Morris is the CEO and Founder of Lantum, a transformative workforce scheduling, engagement and payments platform used by over 3,000 healthcare organizations in the UK.  

Melissa has featured in national publications including The Sunday Times, The Evening Standard, City AM, Sky News and was named Management Today’s 35 under 35.

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