Life in Accelerator
By Monika Roštárová 26/06/2018

Startup boom has been slightly subsiding for a while.  I am enjoying the actual situation in comparison to the startup scene three years ago. We can say, the hype is done, but a lower quantity goes hand in hand with a higher quality. Accelerators are still growing in numbers, especially in CEE. However, just a few of them develop enough sustainable business model to survive.

Accelerator and Incubator Are Not the Same

Accelerator is an institution offering a time-limited program to its members. The program includes a big variety of financial and nonfinancial benefits to accelerate startup development. Accelerators mainly differentiate from incubators in offering internal funding as a benefit for startup members. Incubators never invest except of hybrid forms. On the other hand, many details, summed up below, are typical for both- accelerators and incubators.

Culture and Atmosphere

Internet reveals many articles about startup life and corporate life comparison. However, you can’ t find so much about culture ruling in accelerator. I have analyzed more than 200 accelerators and I couldn’t find any mutually independent institutions seemed to look the same. Out of all accelerators I have visited so far, their atmosphere was much like in startup than to a regular company. Everything is so vital and blooming. People in accelerator usually alternate each other and you always meet someone new. People are friendly and often willing to give you a hand. I believe, this is typical in many accelerators.

Program for Members

Startup applicants accepted to accelerator get the opportunity to participate in program or “acceleration”. The length of acceleration varies between 1 and 12 months. Startups can use different benefits such as: funding, mentoring, coworking space, consulting, human resources, chance to meet investors, etc.

You can get to contact with two program types: on side and off side. If accelerator offers on side program, you always find startup teams plus internal core crew in house. Off side means a bigger flexibility and startup founders don't have to work in cowoking on daily bases. People are changing a lot. We prefer off side acceleration and choose startup teams we consider able to work remotely as well. Sometimes don’t succeed in 100 percent, but results are always the most important. Startups can use coworking space if needed and they mostly use meeting rooms. That’s why it is sometimes a hard work to integrate startup teams to company culture. Accelerators teams are always passionate in startups, so they are the ones, who can handle it. Innovative and hitech community is important for startup members. Besides of  community and internal funding, connection to future capital is the most valued benefit.

Way of Work and Teams

Startup work style is specific and ideal for haters of traditional 9 to 17 or corporate lifestyle. Working time is flexible and there is no routine. Creativity is always a must. Everyone has merits and people know each other.  Small teams have often a high synergy effect. Accelerators are mediators of two worlds: startups and investors. There is some kind of expectation, startup teams will learn some piece of discipline, execution and prepare for the transformation into global business.

Individual teams work in positions and roles in which  they have chosen to 100% participate. They really adore their job in the most of cases.  There is a dark side of a startup work too. Moments of negative feedbacks, obstacles in prototyping, decisions about the necessity of new pivots. Accelerators and incubators both learn startups to strengthen, to deal with feedbacks constructively, to be open and able to accept changes, to keep the product enthusiasm, till the right investor comes.

You can find characteristics from bigger entreprises. Status meetings, cloud systems, productivity tools, reporting and so on. Accelerators belong to early adopters and testers of new gadgets and apps.

Organisational Structure

The way of hierarchy and structure brings to light a lot about company culture. Accelerators differ in size, so that their structure can be totally flat or hierarchical. Of course, any divisions or big departments. Top five giant ones with several branches can be considered as an exception. Flat structures are common in CEE. There are always rules to keep: for employees to not live in chaos and for startups to meet their KPIs and goals.

Daily Life in Flemio

What about Flemio Case? The atmosphere here is very informal. Work time is flexible, we are oriented on results. The Team is small. Structure is flat. There is enough work for everyone. I have to say, we are a small bunch of startup passionates and techies in Flemio and everyone really knows everyone and cares for each other.  Startups differ in background and age. You know who is the expert in field and able to give you a hand. I believe, this is typical in other accelerators. We are close to family relations in our core team, what can be sometimes tricky to handle. However, I spend a lot of time with startups and investors both, Flemio capacities enable me to have an individual approach to everyone.

Many juniors and students can work with us. Everyone participates in final outcomes. We usually discuss prefered work activities during final interviews with candidates. If it is not totally pointless, we consider it. We try to support our people in building of new startups and ideas. And... people value it. Startups are considered as equal partners and mentors both, because we start to cooperate in the Idea stage. However, KPIs are crucial.

Accelerators are suitable workplaces for people who don’t like any routine. Everyone cooperates with a bunch of startups. Projects and tasks always differ. If you work in accelerator, you are continually in touch with innovation, so the probability of your own innovative ideas increases. On the other hand, life in accelerator is really dynamic. As I have mentioned above, it can be a serious problem for planners and systematic people. There is no micro entreprise anymore and it needs all types of people to build the rockets in time (talking here about acceleration outcomes). Worklife is everything, but common.