Startup Clubs vs. Brand Accelerators

Startup Clubs vs. Brand Accelerators

In most major cities now, there are local CPG startup communities. Some cities, like the Bay Area, have multiple competing ‘clubs.’ This is where very young founders new to the industry tend to find themselves for support and peer-to-peer information sharing about operational basics. 

I have nothing against peer-to-peer communities of vulnerable companies trying to help each other make it through what I refer to as the Death Funnel. However, I also find these groups easily become a psychological trap for new founders. In commiserating, they are tempted to bond by complaining with others, like victims, about their de-leveraged industry status. In addition, some in these groups become used to crowdsourcing ‘solutions’ to problems without presenting proper context or even being able to ask the right questions. Solving a misdefined problem could be disastrous for a tiny business. Are newbie peers the best source of ‘tips’? Only the most low-level, tactical information IMO. The equivalent of what a broker would know about this or that route-to-market.  

But there’s another problem with startup clubs – they attract people who need emotional support and ‘motivation.’ This means they attract people who aren’t really entrepreneurs at all. If you aren’t obsessively motivated without ANY social encouragement, then you’re unlikely to succeed. There is too much crap headed your way in the CPG sector.  

I’ve noticed that tons of entities are billing themselves as ‘accelerators,’ which are just versions of the local startup club. Yes, there are industry mentors. Yes, there is a program. But, the companies accepted in are mostly tiny startups exhibiting extreme volatility.  

I just published a piece about what brand accelerators should look like. Yet, none of them really do what founders ready for acceleration actually need. I suspect part of the reason that 7-figure companies most ready for acceleration do NOT even apply for accelerators is that:

 a) they have become much more self-reliant and proactive about problem-solving, and 

b) they are now discerning enough to realize that there is no great benefit offered vs. the time-suck they create for their teams.  

Dr. James Richardson

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