Are you looking to kick start your business, gain the funding that you desperately need to expand (or simply survive), and inject a dramatic new purpose into your career – and your life in general? Accelerator programs are the answer that you may be looking for. Aimed at start- up entrepreneurs who have fantastic ideas but who may be lacking in funds and/ or experience, firms offering Acceleration Programs are dramatically increasing in number year on year.
Barclays is one of an increasingly larger number of corporate giants and multinational firms who are launching their own Accelerator programs, partnered with Techstars, a well known leader in the industry.
Can an Accelerator Program help you and your Fintech business survive and thrive? Read ahead to learn more about these groundbreaking firms and find out if this is a viable and attractive option for you and your business.
What is an Accelerator Program?
Accelerator Programs are taking the business and financial world by storm, with countless organisations springing up and promising a huge, rapid boost for your business. Originally geared more towards start up culture and young entrepreneurs, Accelerator firms can offer their clients an opportunity to network, learn new skills, access to new customers and markets, and most importantly – they can help them to acquire the funding that they need to take their idea to the next level.
In December of 2014, The Telegraph assessed that there were 36 accelerator and/ or incubator programs across the UK, with the vast majority (over two thirds) based in London. Most are located in the so-called ‘Silicon Roundabout’ at Old Street station, home to over 1500 start ups and tech firms. It is important to remember that this number pales in comparison to the Accelerator programs in the United States, with numbers in the thousands (here is an interesting link to the top 20 American Accelerator Programs in 2015). Approximately 40 % of these programs are private enterprises, and over 25 % are run by academic institutions.
The most successful and famous US Accelerator firm is Y Combinator. This illustrious company has invested in more than 1000 start-ups, and their most successful past clients are Dropbox and Airbnb, companies that are worth more than 30 billion US dollars. This is clearly something worth looking into!
What are the Benefits of An Accelerator Program?
These firms can help young companies in their early stages of development to grow, flourish and learn. They often provide seed money and leadership, and research has shown that start-ups that qualify for and secure a place on an accelerator program are more likely to do well in the long term, with higher rates of success than businesses who do not engage in such a program. Money, success, investment possibilities, mentorship opportunities and new skills – these programs have myriad benefits; if you are small business owner or a young start up entrepreneur, it is worth looking into any accelerator programs you might qualify for.
From Start-Ups to FinTech?
At this point you might be wondering what all of these accelerator programs aimed at tech firms and young, kooky app companies has to do with you and the field of Financial Technologies. The answer may surprise you – more often, accelerator companies are branching out beyond the industries that they traditionally supported and taking an interest in other sectors. Restaurants, healthcare, fashion, and banking are all experiencing a surge in corporate- run accelerators, and Microsoft, Telefonica and Barclays are all offering similar programs.
Barclays Accelerator Program for Fintechs
Banking giant Barclays has entered the Accelerator ring with their new program, aimed at Fintechs (Financial technicians). While this program is officially linked with Barclays, it is actually offered by Techstars, “a global eco system that helps entrepreneurs build great businesses.” This is quite an advantageous partnership, as Techstars has years of experience in the industry, while Barclays has heaps of capital and a global reputation for banking excellence over the past 300 years across over fifty countries.
The Barclays Accelerator (Powered by Techstars) is a three month program billed as an ‘intensive start-up accelerator,’ that focuses on “financial technology innovation and disruptive solutions.” This program is currently being offered in London, New York, Capetown and Tel Aviv (although applications are currently closed), with plans to expand further in the near future. They allow between six and ten teams to participate at any given time, and this includes the potential for up to 120,000 US dollars per team.
Now that the program has been operating and thriving for over two years, success stories are starting to emerge from early Barclays Accelerator Alumni. From Squirrel, an app that helps lower income individuals save money and make ends meet, to Gust, a wristband/ app that helps people avoid long queues by using Bluetooth technology and information from past trends – these are interesting and successful companies that have benefited greatly from their affiliation with Barclay’s Fintech.
The Future of Accelerator Programs
It is safe to say that this trend is not going anywhere any time soon – Accelerator programs have been so successful and so ‘buzzed about’ in the media that it is certain that they will continue to expand. We can expect to see this model move from hardware and Fintech to ever more diverse industries. Experts are also predicting that more and more of the investment capital will come from crowdfunding sources, a way to spread the risk across a vast pool of people and create loyal users before the product or app is even completed.
Is one of Barclays Accelerator Program for Fintechs of interest to you? Keep an eye on their site to determine when new submissions will be accepted and start planning your application now.