Ever since I’ve been interested in the startup world, I’ve thought it would be a great experience to join an accelerator. For those of you who haven’t heard of them, an accelerator is usually a program that you join for around three months to work intensively on your company with mentors, classes, speakers, networking and other resources that the accelerator group provides. At the end of the three months, the group puts together a day where you present to investors who they have connections with and who trust and respect their judgment. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get investment at the end, but you’re given a great shot at it with a group backing you that the investors trust.
The group that I’ve followed the most is called YCombinator, and was founded by two of my favorite speakers and writers, Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston. YCombinator is the most prestigious of the accelerator groups and has helped companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, Reddit, Stripe, Parse, and many more, become successful. Some other similar groups are 500Startups and Techstars. If you’re interested in someday founding a startup, I suggest that you read Jessica Livingston’s book, Founders at Work and follow Paul Graham’s essays.
I’m in an interesting place with my company, where I don’t have any real users yet, but I have a mostly built product and a lot of drive and OMG I’m so tired of working by myself :). Accelerators like YCombinator used to accept companies like mine, but now that they’re so big and prestigious, I’ve heard that you basically need to show that you already have lots of traction with users and have the potential to be a billion dollar business. I’ve been wanting to apply, but feeling hesitant and like it might be a waste of time because they will think I’m not ready.
As those of you who read my first blog post (In the beginning) might remember, in March I attended YCombinator’s Female Founders Conference. Since then, I’ve been following the Facebook group, where lots of the inspiring women who attended the conference have been posting interesting articles and resources. A couple weeks ago, one of them posted that she had recently participated in an accelerator called Women’s Startup Lab, and that they were now accepting applications for their fall class. I checked it out, and found that it’s very new (they’ve only had 2 classes go through) and built by a group that wants to build a strong community of women mentors and entrepreneurs. They are willing to accept super early stage startups because they have found that that is the time when many women give up. I thought it sounded interesting so I applied.
Here’s my long story short moment – I got in! The program starts in late September so I’m moving down to Menlo Park in just a little over two weeks! It’s felt a little stressful to have all of this happen so quickly, but I am SO excited. I think that in the next three months I’ll learn a lot, figure out how to get things going with WriteBeta, and meet a bunch of really interesting and inspiring people. I’m excited to keep you all updated on the experience.
Also – WriteBeta is now LIVE and you can sign up! I’ve been running a Google ad campaign, which has been really interesting… but that’s for another post!