Not all accelerators and incubators are created equal: Each has its own unique programming and content for founders. Accelerating Asia delivers its curriculum in part through a series of masterclasses. These masterclasses form a major pillar of our Accelerating Asia flagship program.
While the flagship program has other components - including 1-on-1 Entrepreneur in Residence sessions, on-demand modules, VC office hours, investor introductions, branding and public relations opportunities, and more - the master classes are a major reason for our portfolio’s success. These master classes may indeed be taken by founders, but they arguably benefit our investors just as much: The curriculum is customised to each cohort and startup and minimizes investment risk by addressing knowledge gaps of the founding team, providing them access to an exclusive network of founders and entrepreneurs, and giving them practical, relevant experience.
As a result of this risk mitigation, our portfolio of over 50 startups have collectively raised US$48 million (100% have raised outside funding) and experienced over 400% annualized revenue growth, all while making a significant impact in their communities: Over 85% are impact oriented startups, and 35% of our total startups are female-founded.
It’s this success that has made Accelerating Asia an attractive ongoing target for investors, who either invest into one of our individual startups or co-invest into one of our latest funds. If you’re considering partnering with Accelerating Asia, you should know more about the master class curriculum that dramatically improves the chances that the startups you back will succeed.
Some accelerators and incubators suffer from bloat: In an effort to justify program fees, they stuff as many events and resources into your calendar as possible. This kind of content overload is counterproductive: Instead of spending time building their startup, founders are now focused on going to and fulfilling requirements for a pseudo school.
Accelerating Asia believes in thoughtful minimalism: We only provide founders what they need or request, which we customise to each startup. To accomplish this goal, we assume a certain baseline level of knowledge among all our founders. This assumption is reasonable: Our founders represent the top 1.5% of startups from a pool of over 1000 applications annually, so they already know the startup basics that too many programs needlessly repeat.
We instead concentrate on the higher level areas that founders may have less experience with but may contribute to the growth of their startups much more significantly. These topical areas include fundraising, pitching to investors and customers, investor relations, sales, and growth. By enabling the bulk of their time to be dedicated to real-world application rather than program attendance, our investors get street-smart, focused founders who can better scale their startups.
This is an important distinction. Because the content of other programs often tends to be sprawling, some accelerators and incubators are forced to bring in a variety of resource persons that may not necessarily be the most relevant or helpful. One example are motivational speakers and other “guru” types who have spent more time talking about doing something than actually doing it.
At Accelerating Asia, we recognize that founders need people who have been in their shoes. These are the resource persons who will be most helpful to startup teams. As such, all our master classes are taught by business leaders who have themselves been in the trenches.
This includes our co-founders Amra Naidoo and Craig Bristol Dixon, who together grew the muru-D startup accelerator before growing Accelerating Asia into what it is today. Our master classes also pull extensively from our global network of angel investors, nearly all of whom are successful corporate executives or serial entrepreneurs, such as our current entrepreneur-in-residence, Alex Miller.
We also bring in domain experts, such as our partnerships and marketing manager Rohana Wood, who teaches investor relations, drawing on her wealth of experience helping our fifty portfolio startups communicate with their stakeholders; Rupam Biwas, the founder and CEO of Sendhelper; Nir Eyal, the best-selling author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products; Jamie Camidge, who founded then sold Empat Kali to Afterpay, where he now serves as country head for Indonesia; Ken Chen, the founder of italki; or even alumni, such as EnergyLite CEO Michael Bernil, who shares his experience closing an angel round in four weeks through cold outreach.
Together these resource persons address knowledge as well as network gaps: Through their interactions with facilitators, founders learn which stakeholders they can turn to for particular assistance. This is of course a benefit to our investors, who get to support founders that are not only a master of their domain, but are leaders that can find what - or who - they need at a moment’s notice.
A common issue with accelerators and incubators is that they are often abstract, giving founders a lot in the way of theory but little in the way of practice.
While our master classes fall into the content bucket of high level instruction, we specifically complement them with other applied opportunities. For instance, Rohana’s master class on investor relations would mean little if there were no investors to interact with - meeting investors as an early stage startup, after all, is difficult.
To complement the master class on investor relations, we provide our founders with many opportunities to meet investors in our network. This includes everything from 1-on-1 coaching and dedicated introductions to pitching sessions and networking dinners. We extend this combination of theory and hands-on application across all our modules, so that all our content is immediately actionable.
This combination of theory and application is invaluable for founders, and in turn, their investors. At a time when industries move at rocket speed and can change overnight, founders must be more agile than the competition. Through our master classes, Accelerating Asia connects our investors with founders who are immensely knowledgeable, and more importantly, biased toward action. These are the future leaders of startup unicorns and other winners.
We don’t use this phrase “master classes” lightly: All the founders who go through these modules have indeed already mastered the basics of building a business in Asia Pacific. The content delivered in our master classes will help them push through any remaining roadblocks to reach the scale we believe they can achieve, and minimize investment risk for the investors who choose to back them.
If you also want to support startups that are on the cusp of achieving this market leadership - needing only an additional push in the way of capital and knowledge to seize the opportunity - please consider investing into one of our startups or our latest fund.
Accelerating Asia invests in startups with scalable technology solutions and revenue generating business models that combine purpose with profit.
In making an investment decision, investors must rely on their own examination of startups and the terms of the investment including the merits and risks involved. Prospective investors should not construe this content as legal, tax, investment, financial or accounting advice.