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

Ending Well

How your program ends will inform the ways in which the learnings of your program land with the cohort, and will help you to know that you’ve delivered on the things you set out to do with your support. When a program ends well, your entrepreneurs feel confident and supported, they know when it they can come back to you for more but also where else they can go for help.


This section provides examples of how five of the top incubators and accelerators from around the globe like to end their programs and why. Their case studies look at the pros and cons of pitch events, roadshows and retreats, and provide some strategies for connecting your entrepreneurs with investors.

The Retreat

Taking your cohort away from the busy environments of their daily lives to focus on what they want and need, for themselves and for each other.

Guiding people to show appreciation for one another can can really get your cohort communicating and connecting as people.

Practical Tip

Get your entrepreneurs to sit or stand in a circle. Each person turns to the person next to them and says something that they really love or appreciate about them.


Give every person a stack of post-it notes and ask them to write down what they really love or appreciate about different people on each of the post-its. Then get everyone up and moving around the room, sticking the notes of appreciation on the backs of the people they are about.


A Retreat Into the Mountains with Invest2Innovate

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    Invest2Innovate end their four-month program the same way that they start it, with a retreat up in the mountains in Pakistan. These retreats help to create community amongst the cohort.


    At the beginning of the program, the retreat is for the entrepreneurs to start to get to know each other and themselves, and to work on vulnerability and storytelling.


    At the end of the program, the retreat is about showing appreciation for one another and what they have brought to the program experience. This serves to remind them that what they are doing is really about community, and not just about the transactional relationship of pitching to an investor.


    Source: Invest2Innovate


Retreating as a Group Before Parting Ways

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    Uncharted use their final one or two day retreat as an opportunity to really mark the transition from ‘inside the cohort’ to ‘outside the cohort’.


    Prior to this retreat, Uncharted focuses on really clearly communicating the role shift that will take place once the program ends. They explain what the cohort will get from Uncharted during the final few months of the program and what the cohort can expect from Uncharted once the program comes to an official close.


    While the retreat acts as a marker for this change, the expectations have been clearly set well before the retreat takes place.


    Source: Uncharted

  • Don’t be afraid to be a bit silly at the end of the program.

    Everyone has worked hard and deserves to have a bit of fun.

Create mock awards for your innovators to honour the experiences they have had together and the role that each person has played in making those experiences special. Something like a ‘Most likely to…’ award can help to playfully recognise the different contributions that the entrepreneurs have made to the program and the many different personalities that make up the cohort.

Pitch Events, Demo Days, Workshops and Showcases

Pitch events, demo days, workshops and showcases are all different approaches to getting your entrepreneurs in the same room as investors.

Practical Tip

Investors (and people in general) are much happier with a full stomach. Bring plenty of delicious snacks and treats to keep your investors and your entrepreneurs going for a full-day event of discussions.

Keep some pots of coffee and tea handy to help everyone to keep talking!


Pitch Events with Invest2Innovate

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    Invest2Innovate finishes their program with a pitch event. Each entrepreneur gives a five-minute pitch, followed by a brief QandA, followed by a 20 minute discussion with each investor at the event. It’s like speed-dating, with companies moving around to a new table with a new investor every 20 minutes.


    Many of these investors will have acted as mentors throuhgout the support program, so will already be familiar with the entrepreneurs and their work. For most of i2i’s programs, around 80% of the people in the room at a pitch event have already seen the companies at an earlier stage in the program. This brings with it additional knowledge about the companies, but also a personal and emotional connection between the investors and the entrepreneurs. They have seen them grow and improve over the course of the program, and are genuinely excited to see where they are headed next.


    Invest2Innovate create an investment playbook in advance of the pitch event with a profile of all of the companies in their cohort to help the investors to prepare for the day.


    Source: Invest2Innovate


Demo Days with Uncharted

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    Uncharted have found that pressuring their entrepreneurs to pitch can often distract from other sreas of learning that they may benefit from during a final demo day event. Entrepreneurs can tend to focus so much on preparing for their pitch that they give little time or attention to anything esle. Plus, it can really stress them out.


    As a result, Uncharted have made pitches a very small part of their end of program demo day, only allowing one or two hours for entrepreneurs to prepare, and not placing too much importance on it as a way to secure money. Rather, Uncharted position the pitch as a way to get a meeting with someone and start to build a relationship with them. Uncharted’s demo days usually run for a day and a half, and are much more about one-on-one or two-on-one meetings between investors and entrepreneurs.


    Hour one of the first day is dedicated to the entrepreneurs giving a 30 second or two-minute pitch to the room. Uncharted share an information pack on all of the companies in their cohort with investors prior to the demo day so these quick pitches are more of an introduction session that a formal pitch. The rest of the time is spent in smaller meetings where the relationship between the entrepreneur and the investor can be built.


    Source: Uncharted


Workshops with Village Capital

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    Village Capital set-up a number of 4-day workshops as part of their program. The last workshop that they put on is is really investor-heavy and focuses on getting their cohort to have different kinds of meetings with investors. There isn’t a lot of curriculum at this workshop as it’s more about getting the investors in the room and getting them to meet the entrepreneurs.


    These interactions can can include:


    Mock board meetings: The company sets the agenda. Investors as well as customers or industry experts help them think through a few strategic issues and come to a solution or give them advice.


    Investor meetings: The company is paired one-on-one with an investor. The company will walk the investor through their pitch and get feedback on wha works and what they can imporove. In some cases this can lead to investment but these are often a great way for investors and companies to learn from each other and see if there is some kind of mutual benefit of them chatting to each other.


    Investor dinner: An informal get together at the end of the workshop where investors can organically gravitate towards the ventures they are interested in, and where entrepreneur can meet some of the investors in the room that they haven’t had a chance to speak to previously. A low-pressure environment where people can talk and eat and get to know one another.


    At the end of each workshop that takes place during the program, Village Capital gets the entrepreneurs in their cohort to rank each other. The first two rankings are just for transparency for each company to see where they are sitting. The final ranking is the one that counts, as the top two companies in this final tally receive investment from Village Capital themselves.


    At the end of their final workshop, Village Capital’s investment analysts also create a deal book for each investor to take away with them. This includes a bit of a snapshot of each company in the cohort, what market they are playing in, what they are building and what their traction looks like.


    Source: Village Capital


Putting on a Showcase with The Difference Incubator

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    After running a number of demo days as a way to end their program, The Difference Incubator found that in many cases the entrepreneurs in their cohorts weren’t ready for investment but were actually still a couple of years away. For this reason, they modified their demo day format into more of a showcase for the entrepreneurs.


    Each entrepreneur presents a five-minute pitch to the room where they can ask for any kind of support except for investment. Afterwards, a number of tables are set up with around four people at each.


    The entrepreneurs then go around the room from table to table discussing their pitch. They get to ask questions and the guests of the showcase get to ask questions of them too. The entrepreneurs move around the room for an hour and half, asking questions, answering enquiries and forming relationships. Sometimes commitments of support are made. Sometimes internships are offered. Sometimes technical support is suppplied. Sometimes introductions are made to relvant people in outside networks.


    This is where the entrepreneurs get their next bit of help and advice, post-program.


    Source: The Difference Incubator

If you are getting your entrepreneurs to pitch to investors you can alleviate some of that pitching pressure by helping them to refine their pitch deck in the months leading up to the event.

Work with them on finding their voice and trial out a few different formats to see what works for them.

Provide investors with a profile on each of the companies in your cohort in advance that includes all of the hard data about what they’re doing and the markets they are working in. This will free up more space in their pitch to tell a captivating story, rather than just facts and stats.


It is unlikely that entrepreneurs will receive a large investment on the day of your event. Many investments can take months or even years to land.

These end-of-program events are more about initiating or strengthening those relationships between entrepreneurs and investor, as it is these relationships that will lead to investment opportunities further down the line.

If you set up realistic expectations about these events with your cohort, you can help them to focus on building connections rather than collecting cheques.

  • Don’t forget to have fun with your cohort and your investors.

    Closing out your final event with happy hour or a casual dinner can help people to decompress after a full program of hard work.


Some programs that work with entrepreneurs in different locations and run on an ongoing basis don’t have a specific beginning or end.

For these programs, the end can mean getting to the next stage of investment. Roadshows are a way these incubators and accelerators to connect their cohorts with investors.

Practical Tip

If you are putting capital into the companies in your cohort, set aside a little of this capital for any technical assistance needs that they may have at the end of the program.

Things like putting the compliances in place, ensuring they’ve got a board meeting, or that their financial audits are done.

Setting aside some capital to pay for these final technical requirements will help you to best prepare your cohort for the world outside of your program.


On the Road with Villgro

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    As they run an ongoing incubator program, Villgro runs a roadshow over a number of months with investors across India.


    In preparation for their roadshow, Villgro has taken their network of impact investors and mapped them to the particular stages and ticket sizes of investment that they do, as well as the sectors and stages of the companies that they invest in. This allows Villgro to create a customised matchmaking service that matches companies in their cohort with the investors who are interested in their size and sector.


    Villgro provides these investors with a brief about who those companies are, what they are looking for, and any of the diligence or insights that Villgro has gathered on the company to date.


    Source: Villgro


    The Difference Incubator’s (TDi) mission is to awaken the possibility of doing good and making money by returning to the roots of business. They work across Australia and the Pacific with entrepreneurs and businesses to create sustainable business models that create measurable impact. Since 2014 they have accelerated over 400 businesses, from early stage entrepreneurs shaping their idea to those growing and seeking investment. TDi combine their significant experience in entrepreneurship, finance and investment, innovation, design, development and measurement with a flexible and relational approach that builds capacity and sustainable results.




    Invest2Innovate (i2i) supports startup communities in growth markets, and has been operating in Pakistan since 2011. i2i supports entrepreneurs via the i2i Accelerator, an annual four-month program that provides business support and access to mentors and investment. Since 2012, i2i has accelerated 41 startups in Pakistan, which have gone on to raise over $6M, scaled their businesses, created over 1500 jobs, and deepened their social and economic impact in the country. i2i has licensed and customised its curriculum to support a number of initiatives, including the National Incubation Centre Islamabad, the Grameenphone Accelerator in Bangladesh, and trainings for youth in Pakistan, Ukraine and Nepal.





    Villgro Innovations Foundation is India’s oldest and one of the world’s largest social enterprise incubators. Established in 2001, Villgro supports innovative, impactful and successful for-profit enterprises who are tackling some of the most pressing challenges in the developing world – access to healthcare, education and modernising agricultural practices. So far, Villgro has supported over 150 social enterprises with $4.5 million in investments. These enterprises have created over 40,000 jobs, secured $17 million in follow-on funding, and impacted 19 million lives. Presently, Villgro’s unique incubation model is being replicated in Kenya, Philippines and Vietnam.





    Village Capital builds bridges for entrepreneurs who are creating an inclusive and sustainable world. Their programs connect high potential, early-stage entrepreneurs with the people, institutions, and capital they need to succeed. Since 2009, Village Capital has supported more than 1,000 entrepreneurs through their programs, and partnered with affiliated investment funds, including VilCap Investments, that have invested seed capital in more than 90 program graduates. Through their VilCap Communities program, Village Capital provides an all-inclusive solution for program design, management, and implementation of a venture development program.




    Uncharted is the next generation of accelerator that uses the power of an entrepreneurial accelerator to address major social and environmental issues like the future of food, urban poverty, and hate and discrimination. They scale and connect organisations in three ways. 1. Accelerate: Resourcing organisations with mentors, funders, and customised training. 2. Connect: Bringing together ventures who are all tackling the same problem so they can share insights and find collaboration opportunities. 3. Empower: Giving power away and empowering others to change the world, whether through one-off specialised trainings or licensing their world-class curriculum.



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