What is a Virtual Accelerator?

If you are an accelerator without an incubation space, how does it work?” I was asked by several German executives in a sales meeting.

They weren’t the first people to ask that.  “In fact, we have been hosting virtual accelerators for more than three years. Originally, people said it wouldn’t work. Yet, we have proven that real results are achieved when participants are located in the regions of their customer segments, so we developed a program that allows them the best of both worlds – access to the expertise of Silicon Valley while staying where their customers are.

So, What is a Virtual Accelerator?

We begin each online class with a live lecture, and close with team presentations. All of our video lectures are live, in real time – unlike other online classes that have pre-recorded lectures. Being live means participants can ask us questions the moment they have them. Live lectures also encourages participation between peers, mentors and our trainee adjunct instructors. IAG instructors can share real-life experiences relevant to those in attendance that encourage teams to pivot and explore why their findings are valid or invalid.

Do participants get away with “not doing the work”?

No. Each team participating has to present an update every week. Their team presentations are a growing set of powerpoint template slides, filling in the blanks and submit them hours before the lecture begins. If they do not change their presentation from the prior week or do not turn it in on time, they are not allowed to present. This increases the courses peer pressure as individuals search for affirmation of the work by sharing what customers they’ve spoken to. It also highlights who the true winners are within the accelerator, and who are the lazy bugs that are spinning their fingers in place.

While teams are presenting, other individuals have to provide feedback or questions to the presenting team. We track all participation and make sure everyone is equally leaving their mark on the accelerator. If an individual or team does not show any improvement in their learning outcomes by the end of the course, they will not awarded a certificate.

Will I create my MVP in the Accelerator?

Eventually. Our accelerator is divided into 2-phases. Phase 1 is 7-weeks of validating ideas into Product Market Fit. If your team validates its market, you will continue onto Phase 2 where you are allowed to begin building your MVP. During Phase 2, you’lll also be asked to dive deeper into your business model in order to answer the hard questions and limitations within your company’s infrastructure and the industry at large.

Is the entire Accelerator Online?

No. The IAG team will travel to your onsite location anywhere for a 2-3 day kick-off and close-out for each phase of the accelerator.

To produce real results that highlight your true winners you need to test ideas at scale. This means implementing an innovation process that is repeatable and systematic. What is the best way to do this? With your current employees. They know your company’s strength and weaknesses. They know your market and the transitions your customers are making. Now, all you have to do is teach them a process that works.