Successful Accelerators are Catering to Niche Markets

July 1, 2015

8:00 am

What makes an accelerator successful? You could argue that the success should be measured by looking at the traction graduated companies have built after their time in the program.

However, I would counter that unless the program has a certain ‘it’ factor to begin with companies might not even apply. I think that what makes an accelerator successful is the niche market vertical they cater to – that’s what establishes that ‘it’ factor.

That’s not to say that any of the big name, broad sweeping accelerators are doing it wrong or that they’re not successful. I’m simply saying that they’re so established it would be beyond difficult to compete with them or do what they do better.

Hence, we’ve seen a lot of these niche accelerators pop up recently in cities like Detroit, San Diego, and Telluride. Specifically it’s worked really well for Tech Wildcatters in Dallas, as they focus on the B2B angle, and now we’re seeing it in Downtown Las Vegas.

Based right in the heart of the action is The Mill, an accelerator focused on the seed stage startup. They’re officially divided into two sects: the Idea Accelerator and The Mill Startup Accelerator. The former lets entrepreneurs test ideas for companies while the latter gives entrepreneurs the tools to actually develop their ideas into seed stage startups.

“We created the seed stage startup accelerator for 2015 because we noticed there was a gap in support for this stage of startup and felt a more structured program could be really beneficial to some teams,” says Sara Hill, cofounder and CEO of The Mill.

For their first cohort they decided to bring in startups not affiliated with the Idea Accelerator, but for their second one the team is considering bringing on one or two. Regardless, the second cohort will run from September to December 2015 and applications are open until July 6.

All startups accepted to The Mill Startup Accelerator get access to the network of mentors including Tony Hsieh, Damien Patton, Rob Meadows, and Tech.Co’s own Jen Consalvo. According to Hill, the team was very strategic when it came to picking mentors, choosing to bring on those who were the most consistent with their company culture, background, and experiences.

Outside of the access to network, each startup got $25,000, free office space, and a 3 month program of classes. They’ll all get the opportunity to pitch a crowd of investors, influencers, and tech enthusiasts at a Pitch Night event at the end of the program.

As it turns out The Mill Startup Accelerator just graduated their inaugural cohort and held a Pitch Night event for them recently. All told it brought in 120 people from Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area.

The startup teams were able to meet several investors after their presentations, which was beneficial as they’re mostly seeking seed funding at this point. In fact, three of the four were able to secure meetings with potential investors after the event.

Here are the four companies that presented at The Mill’s Pitch Night:

  • KeyIn – cofounders, Jackie Morck, Lance Baily, and Matt McLaughlin:Their goal is to help inform business purchases with insight from peers (Formerly named konsiderate).
  • Zora – cofounders, Milan Vrekic and Colin White: They automatically post your ads across multiple listing sites to help you screen tenants, organize viewings, and keep the best tenants for your properties.
  • Castoff – cofounders, Blake Arnett Alex and Richard Jacobson: Deciding what to wear? Which outfit to buy? What to post? Castoff helps by letting users take photos of items they’re deciding on to get instant votes from your friends about what’s best.
  • Document Order – cofounders, Amber Davis and David Schnell-Davis: They help you organize, deliver, and track all of your digital documents.
  • Fluttrbox – founder, Aristo Mohit-Coker: Fluttrbox delivers high quality areal data on demand via a network of drone hobbyists that capture data according to specific standards, beforce processing it into web maps.

It was an exciting evening, and if you’re interested in participating in the next round of this accelerator make sure to get your application in before July 6 – you won’t regret it if you do.

Image Credit: The Mill twitter page

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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America's Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He's the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he's off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing...or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach. Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988

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