Should you join a startup accelerator program, like TAQADAM? Take the word of a recent participant!

Startup accelerators are making a positive impact on the Kingdom’s innovation ecosystem.  They bring together entrepreneurs, investors, government and corporations with the common goal of helping innovative businesses succeed. What is an accelerator and is it the right path for you to translate your idea to a business reality?

What is an accelerator?

Startup accelerators entail a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education aimed at accelerating the life cycle of young innovative startup companies, compressing years’ worth of learning-by-doing into just a few months.  Startups enter accelerators for a fixed-period of time as part of a cohort of companies. Accelerator programs develop startups by providing mentorship, education, access to technology, financing, office space and an innovative community.  Accelerators are unique from other early-stage institutions as: they are fixed-term, cohort-based, and mentorship-driven, and they culminate in a graduation showcase or “demo day.”  No other early-stage institution-based incubators, angel investors, or seed-stage venture capitalists-have these collective elements.

Who should apply?

KAUST’s TAQADAM accelerator program is exclusive to university based entrepreneurs (students, postdoc, faculty, staff, researcher and community).  Committed teams would be a part of the 6-month long process, which could involve startup team members to engage in day, evening and weekend events and bootcamps.

Why should you join an accelerator?

There are multiple reasons why you should join an accelerator program, like KAUST’s TAQADAM, to turn your idea into a business.  Rather than taking a year or more to test if your idea is market fit, startup a business, and prepare it for financing, the time is reduced to months and weeks.  You are mentored and guided by a network of top entrepreneurs, executives and investors who willingly share their experience, provide feedback, and direction that accelerate your business. An accelerator will prepare you to answer investor financial questions that are critical when seek funding. If your business has already been established but you need help to grow, you can leverage the accelerator network and turn introductions into customers within a matter of weeks and months.  The education is gained through hands-on learning.   Accelerator graduates have a proven higher startup success rate for reaching key milestones, such as raising venture capital, exit by acquisition and gaining customer traction.  You get to share the startup experience with others facing similar challenges.

 What is it like to participate in an accelerator?

We asked one of our recent TAQADAM participants, Seif Allah Jardak, Co-Founder of SenViz, to share his accelerator experience.  Though Seif only had a product idea at the time he started the accelerator, the program, through a combination of funding and hands-on mentorship, transformed his idea quickly to a market-ready prototype.  Some of the accelerator highlights for him included: conducting direct research with real end-users for his potential product, preparing an investor ready three-minute pitch, making a prototype, networking with other participants, and creating branding assets with an experienced marketing team.  You can meet Seif and learn more about his SenViz product at the upcoming Global Grad show in Dubai November 13th-18th!

Ready to turn your idea into a viable business?  TAQADAM applications due November 2nd, apply here!