Get back to work.
Taken back a bit, the popularity of the question astounded me. Is the acceptance of a startup program really that influential to some entrepreneurs?
What too many seem to fail to appreciate about incubators and accelerators is that they are businesses like any other. Like yours. They aren’t philanthropies. They aren’t panaceas for startups. They aren’t the great deciders of right and wrong. Most suck, as everything has an average; and half are below.
Though we look to them as important, and they are, and can be, half are worse than all the others, 70% are eh… And they’re all just trying to figure things out. Just like you.
As a business, they have a product/service, a market, and a customer.
Here’s the thing, though not necessarily obvious, the customer isn’t you.
You’re the product.
Incubators and accelerators serve sources of capital: sponsors, investors, grants, etc.
They do that within their market. That market is some distinction of location, industry, and stage.
As with any business, they must provide value to that market. They do so by being innovative and creating value for their stakeholders and customers therein – by developing and monetizing you.
Not with ill intent mind you! They’re in the business of developing entrepreneurs and startups so that they might be better valued. That’s what you want. That’s what our economy at large wants. And that’s what investors want. Simply, appreciate that while working with and for you, you aren’t the customer, you’re the product.
And you, the product, might not align with expectations of their customer. That hardly means that what you’re doing is a bad idea or that you aren’t worthy of that program.
Just as a grocery store would choose not to carry a product because it isn’t what their market buys, such programs aren’t judging you, they’re aligning WHAT you’re doing and WHY to the expectations of their market.
Why might they turn you down without it meaning anything about your potential?
- You don’t fit their market
- They don’t understand what you’re doing
- They don’t have time or resources
As a startup, you are going to be told no 90% of the time; by partners, potential advisors, customers, investors, potential employees, and more.
Frankly, if you are thinking you might throw in the towel because an accelerator tells you no, perhaps you should; not because they know better, they probably don’t know s***, but because being an entrepreneur is the hardest job in the world and it requires perseverance to deal with the overwhelming majority of NOs.
Should you take their rejection as a sign and move on from what you’re doing? No (see, there’s another no you can take to heart)