Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators

Investment-Grade Accelerator Selection

Investing in your own entrepreneur cohort can have a significant impact on the way you run your program. Participation is no longer just a case of charging your cohort to participate, or not charging them and covering their costs with donor funds.


This section looks at how the process of selecting companies for your accelerator changes once you start investing in them. It provides some useful questions to ask yourselves before taking the plunge into investment, and outlines some of the key criteria for making an investment in your own entrepreneurs worthwhile, for you and for the entrepreneur.

Basic Questions To Ask Yourself Before Launching An Investment-Grade Accelerator

  • Would you recruit the same companies?

    What criteria do you use today?

    Do you pay for the program?

    Do you also receive grant funding to help supplement costs?


    Are you choosing the most investable applicants?

    Or those that need help the most?

    Do you have a pool of investors looking around?

    What is your criteria?


    Are you inviting more companies than your local ecosystem can fund?

  • What is your long-term returns focus?

    You succeed only when your graduates succeed

    Aligning your interest with their interests in the long term

    Startups need help for years so this gives you an incentive to help them


    How does that change your choices?

    Start looking at companies like an investor


    Does investing become your sole focus or the flagship program?

  • What is your geographic focus?

    Is your home city/country sufficient for deal flow?


    Is it better to focus geographically or expand (your city) to be a centre of excellence (aka breadth vs depth focus)?

    e.g. Nairobi, Kenya has become the place to be for a place of global investments, Singapore is a financial and trade hub.

  • What is your sector focus?

    When you’re bringing angels in to invest in your companies, is there a match between numbers of entrepreneurs, investment needs, and investment capital for that sector?

    This will be a problem if ideas/values don’t match.

    Understand what the investors want to invest in and find entrepreneurs in that sector.

  • Where can you create the most impact in your ecosystem?

    What will you do for idea-stage companies? 

    Are you going to help them or is someone else going to?

    If you are, what will the program look like?

    How many programs are there between idea-stage and investable accelerators?


    Note on ecosystem building: how do you make sure the angels you are teaching have the ability to help companies at a stage where they are not taking too much risk?


    Prototype-stage companies?


    Growth-stage companies?

Criteria for Investment: What to look for

  • 01.

    The Team

    Great teams have a higher chance of success.


    Compromises will come back to bite you (falling in love with the idea more than the team).


    No “solopreneurs” (red flag these as they have a higher chance of failing).

  • 02.


    Prioritised before or after return? Impact can come before return but don’t compromise the rate of return.


    Make sure you have your own definition for what impact is to your fund and how you are creating impact through your investments.


    Concessionary or market-rate returns?

    e.g. total potential of lives touched or scale of the impact (One city? A few? A country? A region? Or global impact?)

  • 03.

    Odds of Success

    Take into consideration the opportunity size, competition, complexity, etc.


    How long will it take them to get to half a million? 5 years? How complex is their business model? Who are their competition? How much money do they need to raise?

Picking Companies: 4 Key Application Questions for Entrepreneurs to Answer


1. When did you start?

You will want to know if this is a brand new company, or is it an old one? Is it a stale deal? And does the stage fit with your accelerator mission and overall programmatic offerings?


2. How much have you raised to-date?

Get insight into how much money it has taken to get where they are today. This also shows the level of trust by other investors and can show the experience and connections of members of the enterprise’s team. Also seeing how much “skin in the game” (i.e. the founders’ money) they have used can show the commitment of the founders to the enterprise’s long-term success.


3. What were your revenues in the last 12 months? What does cash flow look like?

Know what a 5-year-old company looks like versus a 1-year old company.


  • 1000minds

    An online suite of tools and processes to help individuals and groups with their decision-making



Due Diligence 101

Figure out what you want and are looking for before you start looking