By Jewelle Saunders
When emerging entrepreneur David Davila started to develop his idea of a family business selling coffee, one of his friends recognized that he had a great idea and encouraged him to apply to Union Kitchen, a startup accelerator in the United States. Continuing this three-part series profiling David’s journey as an entrepreneur, he provides the YLAI Network his top takeaways from the experience.
Accelerators such as Union Kitchen, a startup food business accelerator in the Washington D.C. area, partner with entrepreneurs to establish a cohesive concept that is successful in local markets, before scaling regionally. Accelerators like this one can consist of various resources, such as a production facility, distribution company, and retail stores. An accelerator can provide a valuable opportunity to foster relationships with investors, distributors, retail chains, influencers, and other like-minded entrepreneurs.
David found that there are many benefits to an accelerator that can help emerging entrepreneurs flesh out their business ideas. If you are interested in more information about how to join an accelerator and learning more about the process, access one of these directories in Latin America, Canada, or the Caribbean and explore your options. Meanwhile, read on for the three key takeaways David had from his time with an accelerator.
Connect with your peers
At the beginning of David’s particular program, there was an intensive boot camp period which coached individuals on how to tighten their pitch and develop a business plan. This platform encouraged the cohorts to meet after the boot camp hours and discuss ways they could help one another. It was a melting pot of ideas in which there were many contacts all looking to move their businesses forward in a similar timeline, and each with talented contacts of their own.
This networking period provides a great opportunity for peer to peer encouragement as well as firsthand recommendations about the many things you don’t think of until you are fully in the startup process, such as finding local artists to help with logo designs.
Don’t worry about trying to reinvent the wheel
An essential piece of advice David received in the cohort was to not worry about creating something entirely new and groundbreaking. This thinking can limit individuals and intimate them. This accelerator helped him to clarify the need to fully research the product that you are passionate about, identify your competitors, and discover how you can improve on the product. Create a business plan based on what you know will last, without reinventing the wheel entirely.
Create realistic goals
The accelerator experience provided David guidance in propelling his ideas forward. The structure of the cohort encouraged individuals to think about goals month by month. It is a good idea to gather your top five priorities and break it down how you best see fit. “You can get overwhelmed in this space as an entrepreneur, and it is helpful to keep one another accountable on your goals and keep them in order of priority,” David says. These realistic goals will help you to establish a better plan for moving forward.
Accelerators are now one of the top ways for Latin American startups to secure funding and reach international markets. Local accelerators are focusing in on many different industries and could be a great option for an emerging entrepreneur.
Make sure to read the rest of David’s series spotlight to learn more about his journey to entrepreneurship and his methods for creating a community for his brand, and take one of our online courses, Fundamentals of Business Expansion, to learn more about how to grow your business model.