What Does Traction Mean to Accelerators?

April 10, 2017

12:50 pm

When accelerators are looking to select a startup for their program, a company’s traction is going to be part of the conversation.

In an interview Jenny Fielding, managing director of Techstars IoT in New York City, and Ted Serbinski, managing director for Techstars Mobility in Detroit, they offered some helpful advice to startups. We asked them “how important is traction when selecting a startup” to join the Techstars program. Here’s what they had to say:

Jenny: We want to see passionate founders that are working on a life mission, some data points and probably that they haven’t founded the company two days ago. There isn’t one metric in terms of traction, it’s just that you have been executing whatever you said you were going to be executing. For example, if you were going to get a website up, you were going to get some utility or transaction in that, and you did all those things. Then you’ve moved onto the next stage, you’ve gained some early customers.

All of these things are considered traction. There really isn’t one answer to the traction question. It’s really that you’re moving on in the journey, and that you’re not just talking about it.

Ted: There’s definitely no one-size-fits-all to traction. One of my best performing companies came into the program with very little traction, but it was clear they could build something, and demonstrated that. I’ve also seen companies with lots of traction and real revenue struggle, too. So the traction doesn’t mean good or bad, but at this point it’s a data point to give me more understanding around that company.

We’re looking for companies that can execute and really build something that can create value. In the 90-day period of Techstars, you don’t create diamonds without a lot of pressure.

If you put a lot of pressure on these companies and they can’t execute or build anything, and they can’t get traction, they’re going to have a hard time outside of the program. If this is pre-program with a lot less pressure and they still can’t execute, there’s going to be a lot more pressure in the program. One size does not fit all, but traction does help us understand if the team can execute at large.

Watch the complete Q&A here

Read more advice on applying to accelerators at Tech.Co.

This article is courtesy of Techstars, the best global ecosystem for entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market. From inspiration to IPO, Techstars empowers the world’s most promising entrepreneurs throughout their lifelong journey by providing a global ecosystem made up of tens of thousands of community leaders, founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners.

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Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed. Through the Techstars Worldwide Entrepreneur Network, founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates four divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships, and the Techstars Venture Capital Fund.

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