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🤫 How to Secure a Spot in a Top Tier Startup Accelerator

Take tips from founders that been there and done it

Hey, this is Napkin Notes: the only newsletter Travis Kelce reads to learn the latest and greatest about the startup world. 🏈

Since Siri told us his 4 year contract with the Chiefs is worth $57.25 million; it may be a little while till he quits the day job to pursue this startup idea 😅

But for the fun of it, let’s say Travis did wanna go build something. He may wanna join YC or Techstars or Google’s Startup Accelerator. He may go to GPT and ask:

  • “How can I secure a spot in a top-tier startup accelerator?”

  • “What hacks would guarantee my startup a seat at YC?”

  • “How do I impress the interviewer with my startup pitch?”

Well, Travis — we’ve thought of all those same questions. So today’s deep dive is gonna help you skip the GPT premium package and get right to the goods on how to secure a spot at an exclusive accelerator if you want it.

We’ll get to the juice right after our news break.

📰 Latest News:

Disney is acquiring a $1.5 billion stake in Epic Games. Google launched a new AI model. Business Insider unmasked the creator behind Liquidity. YouTube’s CEO is heavy on AI. Adam Neumann wants to rebuy WeWork. Tech layoffs keep happening. AI startup Runway is raising a venture capital fund. X competitor, Bluesky, is now open for anyone to join.

And you got 5 more days until Valentine’s Day fam. Be sure to get those roses and chocolates ready 🌹

Now let’s get to our main event.

🤫 How to Secure a Spot in a Top Tier Startup Accelerator

We had no clue in hell how to answer this. So we texted some pals to bail us out.

Lucky for you, they really came through.

Here’s what they had to say about the question “what’s your #1 piece of advice to score a seat in a highly competitive startup accelerator?”

Ve Sharma, who finessed his way into Morgan Stanley’s Accelerator in NYC for this startup AdAuris, shared this:

Utilize Alumni to your advantage: Find someone who has gone through the program you’re applying for and get their advice.

They will know the ins and outs and what the program is looking for.

Even better, get peer review on your application, or even a mock interview with you if you get to that stage.”

Paige and Julie from Benny, who got into Tara Bosch (who exited her startup for almost $400m)’s startup accelerator Bold Beginnings, said:

“1) Know who you’re “speaking to” and what they care about.

We knew that Tara built SmartSweets with a super strong mission, so it was important for us to drive our mission in our application.

2) Always be building your network and making yourself helpful.

We’re always connecting people to different connections and opportunities, and on the flip side are kept in mind for other opportunities.”

Enrique Moran, who’s building the AI tool slate got into the NEO accelerator and League of Innovators recommends one crucial tip to stand out when trying to score a seat at a competitive accelerator:

“The “why now” should be obvious to investors — your goal is to make them so excited about your momentum and growth that they cannot wait to back you.

I have many more tips, but I think this is the one I see most commonly people missing”

Kelsey Hahn who’s building monark secured a spot in Google’s Startup Accelerator and pitched at their end of year demo day a while ago said:

“Focus on the value you will get from the program and how it will propel you forward in your journey (Accelerators are best leveraged when the timing is RIGHT for you and when your business is).

With Google, we really demonstrated why the accelerator was the perfect time for us in our iourney as we began leveraging Al and ML and why we were a perfect fit for the program. We also ensured to detail why we stood out as a company!”

Liam Lytton, who scored a spot into three top tier startup accelerators including the Amazon EdTech Accelerator said:

“We researched the specific types of companies the accelerator was interested in before applying, to ensure a mutually beneficial fit. In our application, we clearly articulated the problem we aimed to solve and our unique solution, using straightforward language for easy comprehension. We presented our solution in a way that everyone could relate to.

For example, our tool leverages Al to improve the process of writing report card comments, addressing the common issue of receiving non-specific feedback such as "Good job in Science, Jimmy."

After advancing beyond the initial application stage to the interview phase, we thoroughly prepared by anticipating potential questions, understanding the characteristics the accelerator sought in both the companies and their founders, and outlining our future plans to demonstrate how alignment with the accelerator could be achieved.”

Matthew Smith, who got into the highly coveted Y Combinator brand for building Truss Payments didn’t have an essay of advice to share, but something more simple and profound for founders considering how to stand out to the application team at YC:

“My one tip is have a technical cofounder! Solo founders rarely get in.”

So there you go amigos.

Hope these insider tips helped you out if you’re currently scoping ways to land your startup in a startup accelerator program.

If you’re not currently looking but know someone that is, share this write-up with them.

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