Which Canadian Accelerator Will Find the Next ‘Airbnb’?
There has been much discussion about a bubble in startup accelerators. There are a lot of them. Everyone wants to start one. Reports have shown that very few accelerators have demonstrated the success of standard setting organizations Y-Combinator and TechStars.
example: Y-Combinator’s top 21 companies are worth a whopping $4.7B. HELLO Airbnb + DropBox
In Canada, we have a number of high quality accelerators: GrowLabs in BC, Extreme Startups in TO, FounderFuel in MTL and Launch36 in Atlantic Canada. I have attended demo days for all save GrowLabs and am a proud mentor for Launch36. No Airbnb’s yet though.
Successful startup accelerators set a very high bar. This is reflected in the rigour of the selection process, in the accelerator investment criteria and in which companies make it to the demo day stage. I would also argue that the strength of the network attached to an accelerator is a critical factor.
I’m personally a big fan of accelerators. Anything that promotes the startup culture and gives founders the support they need to succeed is a good thing. That said, I think the bar needs to be higher.
Too often, marginal startups are propped up simply because they made it into an accelerator. Accelerators shouldn’t morph the market with fuzziness, they should give greater visibility into who the alphas are through startup natural selection.
Darth Maul was a startup of sorts. He didn’t last long.
Launch36 is a bright light in Atlantic Canada. I proudly work with one of the graduates that is poised to break out, LeadSift.
And a new entity is on the horizon. Volta Labs, founded by Jevon MacDonald (of Startup North and GoInstant fame) will be a highly connected crash pad for startups. Knowing Jevon, the natural selection process will be employed and a high degree of rigour will be brought to ensure only the strong survive.
So as the proliferation of accelerators in Canada continues, I am hopeful that best practices are implemented and that we communally focus on finding, supporting and building the next billion dollar Canadian tech company.