Glen Hellman: The Startup Accelerator Boom [INTERVIEW]

October 11, 2012

11:00 am

Glen Hellman will be a moderator at DCWEEK for the Accelerator Showcase. He is an angel investor with Stardust Venture Partners, a Tech Cocktail contributor, and the owner of Driven Forward, which provides coaching and facilitation for executives. DCWEEK is a week-long festival co-produced by Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs. Get your tickets here.

Tech Cocktail: What do you think of the current trend in accelerators? 

Glen Hellman: Logically, they make sense. Historically, there is yet to be a long-term history of success. For the DC tech scene, where our only accelerator, LaunchBox, left town, it was a welcome sign to see the growth of local accelerators. I can only hope that they prove successful and build a sustainable infrastructure.

Tech Cocktail: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs considering an accelerator? 

Hellman: If you need the capital, take it. If you need the mentoring and education, then make sure that there is a solid educational curriculum. If you can afford to be choosey, be choosey. Make sure there is a real value add before you trade equity for education.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the worst reason to do an accelerator program? 

Hellman: Because everyone else is doing it. There’s really no wrong or right pat answer as a whole. Each situation is different.

Tech Cocktail: How does your experience in business help you be a better investor? 

Hellman: It doesn’t help me at all in terms of picking winners, in fact it hurts my objectivity as I’m more empathetic than cold-hearted calculating. On the other hand, my experience as a turn-around CEO has clued me into and made me hyper-aware of the kind of dangerous patterns that startups fall into that can lead to failure. I’ve learned to ask the kind of questions that help founders see the cliff on which they are about to walk off.

Tech Cocktail: What makes the DC startup scene unique? 

Hellman: There are a couple of difficult headwinds in DC, which include that our companies operate across three separate competing jurisdictions, with different tax codes and disjointed conflicting growth strategies. Also the federal government is a powerful draw on top technical talent more interested in working on the most interesting projects versus getting rich and famous like the next Zuckerberg. Tech talent has to choose between developing the next Mars rover or building yet-another ecommerce website.

Tech Cocktail: What are you most looking forward to at DCWEEK? 

Hellman: The Tech Cocktail parties. Always this old guy’s favorite opportunity to play with the kids!

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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