The Secret Sauce of Acceleration

Posted by on August 27th, 2013 - comment(s)

For those of you who are unsure of what exactly ‘Accelerator or Incubator Programs’ are, the Smile Epidemic is going to give you a quick 411 from our perspective thus far.

Jim Moss, our Chief Happiness Officer compares an incubator system to that of having access to a P90X workout system that can help to elevate our fitness. However, an Accelerator although complimentary, differs from an incubator in that it takes start-ups to the next level by supplying space, resources, mentorship and funding with an expectation, thereby pushing start-ups to be accountable for progress from week to week, much like a personal trainer would.

Incubators and Accelerators tend to share several traits: they both offer selected startups the office space, mentorship, resources and sometimes funding in exchange for company stock.

In other words, incubator and accelerator programs are built to foster rapid growth of portfolio startup companies. It’s a perfect recipe of mentorship, access to technology, office space and an innovative community, all condensed into a short time frame. Essentially, the function of these programs are to turn the art of starting a company into a program that can be repeated, therefore churning out valuable companies as if on an assembly line.

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The Secret Sauce of Accelerator Success:

Producing a billion dollar company isn’t the only indicator of success at an accelerator, but it is quite a feat — there are on average only one per year. To enable the big wins, an accelerator must create a cycle — Paul Lee, partner at Lightbank, explains: “It’s a virtuous cycle in the sense that good accelerators will attract good companies, which will in turn attract strong investors and subsequently lead to exits which will just repeat the cycle of attracting better companies and investors.”

Living in Canada, and more specifically in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, we feel extremely lucky. First reason being that it is recognized as the Technology Triangle and recognized as the Silicon Valley of Canada. The second reason being that we have had the honour of participating in the most amazing ecosystem including incubator and accelerator programs such as the esteemed: Wilfrid Laurier LaunchPad, The Accelerator Centre and now, the Communitech Hyperdrive Accelerator program.

As a company, we would not be where we are right now without each of these programs and the relationships/connections they have provided us in such a short period of time. It is hard to believe that in just eight months (since incorporating), we have managed to:

  • Build an app to help people share their happiness globally
  • Launched the largest gratitude study in Canada via our Happier Campus Project with Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Presented at the SXSW Digital Interactive Festival about the ROI of Happiness
  • Appearing in the media both nationally and internationally (O.W.N Network, Wallstreet Journal, CBC, CTV, Roger’s, Daytime20, The Waterloo Record, Snap KW, etc.)
  • Attract 5 clients up to date, and counting
  • Attract the most genius and profoundly amazing and talented employees, community partners, mentors, investors and EIR’s.
  • Get into some of the most esteemed incubator and accelerator’s in the country, and
  • Have the chance to start building out our new product, Plasticity for workplaces, within the Hyperdrive program.

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We cannot begin to even explain the number of opportunities we have had due to our participation in both incubator’s and accelerators, but we know that a lot of our hard work and success was both created and leveraged from being in this ecosystem. So what is the secret sauce?

In the words of Smile Epidemic Founder Jim Moss, “It is all about the relationships that you create. Whether it is a friend or previous co-worker from the past, or the fellow startups, mentor’s, EIR’s, or clients that you come across along your entrepreneurial journey. They are all partnerships that will help to foster your learning, creativity, innovation and collective growth that occurs, to help to leverage any sort of success you achieve in your career and the startup world.”

Co-Founder and Chief Brand Guardian Jennifer Moss believes the secret sauce lies in, “cultivating the opportunities that are given to you in such programs. It is important to understand the beauty of how readily available so many renowned experts, mentors and connections are to you. These people can offer invaluable coaching and introductions that could affect significant change within your business. When your startup gets into an accelerator program, it is a sprint and you need to leverage all the resources and opportunities while they are available and work hard to make the experience as valuable as it can be.”

If we as a team have learned anything from our collective experience in the last year, it is realizing the importance of capitalizing on all of the hands-on learning, networking and opportunities that came our way and using those opportunities to grow, and create a product/customer experience that is stellar.

We are so grateful for everything that has happened within the Accelerator Program space, and we cannot wait to see what comes out of participating in the Hyperdrive program.

Author:

lacey-photoLacey Heels

Sr. Communications Manager for The Smile Epidemic

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