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Accelerator

Redesigning A National Accelerator Program

Reflecting & Planning

Over the course of 5 workshops, the VFA team reflected on the past programs and planned the new 13-week accelerator

Observing and Assisting the Cohort

During the three months of programming, Further Faster kept in touch with the entrepreneurs and the program leaders

Convening in Birmingham, AL

The program culminates in-person, with investor meetings and pitches.

Stages of
Partnership

Research & Modeling
Prototyping & testing
Design & Branding
Go-To-Market
Fundraise

Overview

Further Faster facilitated several workshops and designed the week-by-week curriculum. The workshop occurred over five separate meetings, using a digital whiteboard to complete 6 exercises. The sessions were designed to prepare the leadership team for their decisions by rooting them in their perspective of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at-large, and reflecting on the past 5 years of programs.

Testimonial

"They've been a joy to work with and we're super excited about the program this year thanks to their help."

- Carrie Murphy, Chief Program Officer, Venture For America

Problem

The Venture For America program rose out of a successful fellowship program and began in 2016. After several iterations, the team felt they had learned enough about what was working and what needed attention. Accelerator programs have become more competitive in the last 8 years and the leadership wanted to stay current on programming and improve brand recognition.

Process

Individual work was done prior to the workshop to interview former accelerator participants, and create a Landscape Analysis to prepare as a team. We also did some reflection exercises prior to the workshops to contextualize the time together and ensure our beliefs and personal perspectives are represented in the workshop and the program’s evolution.

Workshop Overview

Ecosystem Journey Mapping

Before beginning the process of designing the accelerator curriculum, we situated ourselves in the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem which we simplified to 8 stages: Pre-idea Fellow, Idea Stage, MVP, Bootstrapping, Seed, Series A, Series B/C/D, and Exit. We examined the broader journey by understanding the strengths and gaps within each stage and the role VFA can, and will play. We also included potential partners and allies along the way. The ‘22 Accelerator program is specifically focused on founders who have a prototype and are pre-series A. 

‘16- ‘21 Program Retrospective

After reflecting upon the previous programs, and with the cumulative knowledge of the group, we identified 4 strengths where we’ll continue to invest and 7 areas we want to bring attention to and address.

What has worked and had an impact?

  • Community and Network
  • Financial Support
  • Fundraising Guidance
  • Pro-bono Legal Support
  • Increasing Confidence

What hasn't worked or made an impact?

  • Broad Programming
  • Applicable Learnings and Skills
  • Equity and Diversity
  • Required Participation
  • Accountability
  • Demo Day Preparation
  • Post Accelerator Momentum

Goals for ‘22 Accelerator

In discussing the ultimate vision for success for this accelerator season, we defined 6 themes for founder outcomes: 

  1. A more effective network & community
  2. A set of immediately actionable tactics
  3. An iterative mindset
  4. A stronger operational knowledge
  5. The foundations for an autonomous company culture
  6. The ability to fundraise when necessary

The group collectively penned the following statement to clarify the three most important outcomes of the program, and the ultimate outcome of the founder's experience with VFA. 

After the 3-month program, 6 Founders will: be able to maintain a personal ecosystem (mentors, peers, investors, connectors) that can be leveraged at any moment, grow in healthy confidence and mindset to sustain them on their founder journey, and have a habit of iteration and testing in service of creating founders that can contribute anywhere, not just build what they entered with.

North Star Objective

We endeavor to instill an iterative mindset within each entrepreneur that leaves the accelerator; with the ability to apply it to sales, product, fundraising, hiring, etc. for the entirety of their career.

This mindset will be nurtured with repetitive exercises that can develop into habits throughout the course of the program.

  • Weekly team sync (including stand up)
  • Converting assumptions into hypotheses
  • Regularly running tests
  • Prototyping before building
  • Prioritizing features based on effort and impact

Service Journey Mapping

The team prepared a timeline over 13 weeks that analyzed the weekly programming from the perspective of the participating founders, the mentors, and the managing staff. The service journey is what ultimately will give rise to the curriculum for the ‘22 Accelerator.

Outcomes

The 13-week curriculum is broken down into four blocks: Product, Growth, Operations, and Fundraising, each ranging from 2-4 weeks in duration. The details below outline the program on a weekly basis through 6 lenses: Theme, Learning Objectives, Participant Actions, VFA Touchpoints, Mindset, and Ecosystem interplay. Each block is designed to optimize the founders’ ability to learn the new skill, tool, or process with a blend of virtual workshops, templates, exercises, mentoring sessions, peer-to-peer counseling, and an in-person capstone event

See All Work

Read more about the  Further Faster process, step-by-step.