The tale of startup accelerators is as old as Silicon Valley. The concept has grown and evolved over the years — from coworking spaces to incubators and venture studios — but the underlying goal is the same: create an intensive growth program for sustainable ideas to thrive and develop into viable business models.
There is a new format for startup acceleration yet again — and the next step in startup growth evolution is now known as a hyper-accelerator.
Hyper-acceleration is exactly what it sounds like — acceleration, but with the pressure and speed multiplied by 100. While a typical incubator or accelerator hosts its student founders and entrepreneurs for 6-12 months (think your typical Y Combinator program), hyper-accelerators cut that time down significantly, introducing a firehose of information and training to get the undertaking up and running.
In the modern world, the best way to illustrate a hyper-accelerator would be to compare it to the Ivy League schools of the U.S. education system. Of course, the U.S. has many accredited, reputable schools. But the Ivy League is just that — a group of schools with an outstanding reputation that in many ways helps with the initial success of the graduates of such programs.
Moreover, not only are these programs very highly vetted, their focus is altogether more laser-focused than in a regular accelerator program. There is a common saying that 90% of startups fail within the first year. Hyper-accelerator programs have emerged in defiance of this notion, running short and intensive programs and always working toward the single North Star goal — raising funding. Historically, not all programs have such a focused approach to leading startups to success. While of course, the goal of raising significant funding is largely implied as part of the success, it’s not the ultimate goal. And here is where hyper-accelerators differ from every other startup program.
What has led to the rise of hyper-accelerators? Well, there is a variety of factors that have shaped the evolution of startup accelerator programs over the years.
First and foremost, the entrepreneurial arena has become extremely saturated. Just like the American Dream, the dream of creating a new company from scratch and identifying a need that needs to be catered to has become the ultimate life goal for a lot of entrepreneurs in and outside of Silicon Valley. In the entire world, startups emerge in thousands around the world, if not more.
The growth of the sector is especially clear in how the funding amounts have grown over the last few years, making 2021 one of the strongest in terms of the amount raised. According to Crunchbase, the global venture capital funding was more than $288 billion across the globe and set a new record. This has been approximately $110 billion more compared to the 2020 half-year numbers.
There is no doubt that the world is fired up in the constant search for the “next big thing,” the next big issue to solve for consumers and businesses, creating or filling a niche dictated by the market and the users. But this increase in the candidates for the funding has also increased the urgency of creating, defining and pitching a potential idea for a business. A lot of startups still fail — but the pressure now is much higher to race to the first place, be a pioneer — as there are so many people considering the same idea at the same time.
The demand is high — and so are the stakes to be the first, define a category and get the funding necessary to kickstart an enterprise.
This is why the traditional accelerators are not enough, making space for faster, more competitive, and even more exclusive/selective programs in the startup world. This climate of competition and saturation hence gave rise to the hyper-accelerators, which essentially are the Harvards and Princetons of the acceleration world. The same way these educational institutions provide a solid kickstart to a student’s career, in a similar manner, a hyper-accelerator offers the best-in-class resources to mentors and networking; but there is also an important element of peer-to-peer mentorship that comes with a more selective program. The better the cohort, the better the students who can grow together and teach each other in addition to the exceptional resource access and accelerated training that the program offers.
In a world where creating an enterprise from scratch has become a mainstream dream, it’s imperative to grow in an environment where you get the resources and network access you need, fast. Hyper-accelerators are here seeking to fill that need in a space that’s evolving at an increasingly faster speed — and it aims to provide the exclusive access to mentorship, knowledge, network and connections necessary to defy the 90% failure notion. All while producing a higher rate of success stories in an oversaturated world of entrepreneurship and innovation.
Originally published in Forbes