I just completed the 500 Global Accelerator, one of the world’s premier accelerators. This program is dedicated to helping fast-growing technology companies accelerate their sales.
After completing this accelerator, I realized that sharing my experience would likely be useful to other founders, as would taking a stab at explaining how an accelerator differs from more traditional education.
As background, I’ve had the privilege of receiving education from some of the world’s best institutions, like Harvard Business School and London Business School, and found this education tremendously useful in growing established companies from under $5 million in revenue to almost almost $100 million in annual revenue.
My feelings are that Universities excel at teaching how to manage established corporations, where you have more time to make decisions, and getting the right decision is very important. Unfortunately Universities lack training on how to build and scale an early stage company, which requires grit, and speed. The 500 Global accelerator provides tricks and tips that have helped them create 60+ Unicorns (companies worth more than $1 Billion) and over 250 Centaurs (Companies worth $100 million to $1 Billion).
For me personally, the insights gained from this program have challenged my perspective and have already begun to shape the future of 10Adventures. Let me share my key takeaways from this program that I believe will revolutionize the Alberta startup ecosystem.
About 500 Global
Founded in 2010, 500 Global (formerly 500 Startups) is a global venture capital firm and startup accelerator. With a mission to discover and back the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, 500 Startups has fostered the success of numerous startups globally, including unicorns—companies valued at over $1 billion—and centaurs—those valued at $100 million.
The Alberta Accelerator by 500
The Alberta Accelerator is one of 500 Global’s portfolio of Accelerators. This program rotates between Edmonton and Calgary, and has a cohort of Albertan, Canadian, and global startups. With 20 startups in the cohort, it’s industry-agnostic, allowing for a diverse range of ventures to benefit from its resources.
Throughout this intensive program, we were fortunate to have the guidance of resident mentors and guest mentors. My full-time mentors included the amazing Shaheel Hooda, General Partner at Sprout Fund, an Albertan VC fund, and the incredible Tash Jeffries, a global startup educator. They both offered invaluable insights. We also had the privilege of learning from mentors like Stephan von Perger, Juan Felipe Campos, Robert Neivert, Tarek Ahmed, and Kris Hans, who all shared their unique perspectives.
The 500 Global Accelerator Experience
The program was intense for me, and it was essentially like adding another full-time job on top of my regular role as the founder of 10Adventures. Even with the stress of 3-months of hard work, the program was tremendously valuable and I would repeat it a hundred times over. What set this accelerator apart from other programs was its focus on rapidly accelerating sales.
The program’s curriculum was divided into three phases:
Phase 1: Pre-accelerator Work
This was a great education, providing 500 Global’s established curriculum that we could complete online. This ensured that all startups were at the same level of knowledge once the accelerator started.
Phase 2: Three Weeks In Person
During this immersive phase, we dedicated our days to uncovering the core principles of growth. A standard day would start at 9am and go to 3pm or 4pm, with a generous break for lunch. While this doesn’t seem too bad, we were moving quickly, and any spare moments were spent designing experiments that we could run in our daily stand up.
During this session we learned to measure success through key performance metrics and to understand our customers’ needs with the help of April Dunford’s book Obviously Awesome. We also streamlined our approach for simplicity, rapidly experimenting with new ideas and collecting insights directly from our customers.
The ICE methodology became our guide, helping us evaluate concepts with Impact, Confidence, and Ease. We bettered our understanding of strategic sales channels, following the 85:15 rule, and focused our efforts on our core sales channel 85% of the time. This phase laid the groundwork for our growth journey.
Phase 3: Six Weeks Remote
This phase was all about experimentation. We learned to test ideas quickly, gather feedback, and implement strategies. I averaged roughly 2.5 to 4 hours a day on mentor meetings, daily check-ins and some online classes where outside mentors would share their experience and tips.
Phase 4: Three Weeks In Person
This final section culminated in a demo day where we had the opportunity to showcase our startups in a room filled with approximately 200 investors and members of the local tech community. Our main focus was finance and fundraising before transitioning to pitch practice. Much like Phase 2, this was an intense three weeks where days were mostly full-time.
Impact on 10Adventures
This program has been transformational to 10Adventures, giving us a backlog of almost 70 experiments or ideas that we can action to improve our revenue growth.
In addition, through this experience I have developed a greater understanding of how 10Adventures can better serve our customers and supercharge our growth.
Going forward we will focus on building our core business, dedicating 85% of our time and resources to proven strategies that are already producing growth. We will use 15% of our time to try new things, initially with a focus on growing a second sales channel as we look to expand our reach.
My journey through the Alberta Accelerator by 500 has been transformative, it has highlighted the value of hands-on education in the startup world, where each sale is vital. I’m excited about the future of 10Adventures and the broader Alberta startup community as we continue to learn, adapt and embrace new opportunities.
Thanks for reading, if you have a question or want to learn more, please connect with me on LinkedIn here and let me know you came from this article: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richard-campbell-yyc/