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‘It’s like networking on steroids’: Sifted readers share their experiences of startup accelerators



Accelerators are one of the first stops on the journey of many startups.

There are now hundreds of these cohort-based programs — which usually provide mentoring and support over a few weeks or months, plus potentially a cash injection — around the world. Arguably the world’s most famous accelerator, the US’s Y Combinator, counts Stripe and Monzo among its alumni.

But are accelerators really a stepping stone to startup success? And how much equity are founders giving away to join them? We heard from 137 founders in our recent anonymous community survey on startup accelerators. And their response was mixed.

While one first-time founder “wouldn’t have launched my startup without taking part in an accelerator”, others were critical of generic advice from bad mentors.

From networking opportunities and mentoring to investor exposure and equity demands, here’s what they had to say.

The majority of accelerators take more than 7% in equity

Many accelerators take ownership in the businesses that they accept into their programs. 55% of respondents told us an accelerator they were part of took equity, and nearly two thirds of those felt the amount they took was fair.

One founder who gave away 7% to 10% equity to take part in an accelerator said they thought that was “fair because the accelerator I took part in took people before the idea stage — who probably wouldn’t have started a company otherwise. But it’s also tough because once you are working on an idea that has traction, it’s a lot to be giving away.”

Many founders also accepted that while the amount of equity many accelerators take might feel like a lot at the time, the value they provide at such an early stage — like in finding a cofounder and validating an idea — makes them worthwhile.

But a number of founders also told us that having an accelerator own such a large chunk of a startup from the beginning makes the company less of an attractive proposition to future investors. “Equity should be contingent on successful investment,” said one. “Having a 4% to 7% ‘zombie’ shareholder can have a dramatic impact on cap tables.”

The biggest reason to join an accelerator: to find funding

The most frequently cited reason founders joined an accelerator was to get funding more easily, followed closely by networking.

For solo founders who joined the hunt for a cofounder, accelerators were often the perfect place to find that special someone.

“Talent matching is a real game changer, and there’s no way I would have found a cofounder of this caliber without an accelerator,” said one. Others told us how difficult it was to find a suitable cofounder — who provides a complementary skill set and wants to start a business at the same time — outside of an accelerator. “It’s rare to be in a room of 60 people who are all in the same phase of life where they are ready to start their own company and have some startup ideas.”

Taking part in an accelerator is like “networking on steroids”, said one founder, because everyone’s so committed to building a startup.

But others felt that networking was lacking when it came to potential investors, and of the 28% who did not find their accelerator useful, nearly half said it was because they did not secure funding after the program.

“Most startup founders don’t need classes on how to find product-market fit — we can look this up on YouTube,” one respondent told us. “What we do need is introductions to investors.”

“Any program which does not give you a really solid exposure to future potential investment is very rarely worth doing,” said another. Some founders felt like the accelerator they took part in didn’t provide this, with one saying the 15-minute calls they had scheduled with investors were often with “disenchanted” VCs.

Others felt that they weren’t properly prepared for pitching in the real world. “At the end of the accelerator we went out to pitch and were getting rejections because we were trying to raise too much,” said one. “Lots of wasted effort and time could have been avoided if the accelerator had helped us get pitch ready in a practical sense.”

But a number of founders said the accelerator they took part in did give them access to opportunities to raise and accelerate the process. One described the accelerator they took part in as a “fundraising bootcamp”, because it taught them the strategy they needed to prepare a fundraising round from day one to getting money in the bank.

Founders complain of generic advice from bad mentors

Nearly half of respondents said they joined an accelerator to draw on the expertise and experience of mentors. First-time founders said that support from their mentors played a key role in shaping a minimum viable product (MVP) and go-to-market plans, and many told us it helped them avoid a number of costly mistakes.

But founders weren’t positive across the board, and 71% of people who told us their accelerator wasn’t useful said it was down to their mentors not having the right experience to help them.

For many, generic startup advice that wasn’t relevant to their particular sector was to blame. “The prospect of some generic class on scaling with an ‘expert mentor’ who doesn’t know our startup fills me with dread,” said one.

Others found that mentors on their program were corporates who had little to no experience in startups. “It was like going back to school, only to find you know more than the teachers,” said one respondent.

Not enough financial support for founders from underrepresented backgrounds

Three quarters of respondents told Sifted that they thought accelerators played a role in opening up startup funding to founders from underrepresented backgrounds — but the jury was out on whether they did enough to involve those founders in the programs themselves.

Many thought there wasn’t enough financial support for founders from underrepresented backgrounds, telling us that taking part in an accelerator is just too risky for founders from underrepresented backgrounds who don’t have a financial support network.

One respondent said that while the accelerator they took part in did have a diverse range of people in the cohort, the vast majority came from comfortable socioeconomic backgrounds. “More could be done to really help those who may need more security to work on building a startup. We were given significantly less than the living wage in London and expected to invest our own money in the business to start and cover legal fees if we got funding.”

Others told us that accelerators they participated in just played lip service to diversity and inclusion. “Our accelerator reached out to me and asked for help in finding more female founders, but when I asked them what they had done so far it was basically zero,” said a founder. “They’re not working with role models or public figures that women actually listen to or follow.”

But one respondent did feel the accelerator they took part in helped to level the playing field. “As someone from a low socioeconomic background, I had very limited options. I wouldn’t have started my startup without it.”

The vast majority of founders would recommend accelerators to others

The general feeling among founders is that it is worth taking part in the right accelerator, and 86% said they would recommend the experience to others.

One respondent told us that accelerators can be “brilliant” if they have a laser focus on the sector or the part of the business a founder is looking to develop, but warned against being drawn to one without a clear idea of ​​what you want to get out of it. “Otherwise you will end up resenting it almost immediately, because of the huge time demands.”

For many first time founders, accelerators speed up the learning curve, and one told us it “opened doors we didn’t know existed in the first place”.

Being around a group of other founders going through the same experience was another hugely valuable aspect for many. One respondent said that the usefulness of mentor support and learning resources was limited, but the opportunity to create a network of peers to learn from and bounce ideas off made the experience worthwhile.

Want to be part of out next community journalism project? We want to know what you predict for startup Europe in 2023.

Kai Nicol-Schwarz is a reporter at Sifted. He covers healthtech and community journalism, and tweets from @NicolSchwarzK.

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Comparing Car Insurance Sites: Who Comes Out on Top?




Do you already know which car insurance site you want to go with? Or are you more interested in comparing the available options and picking the best deal from your options? Either way, there are plenty of great sites out there that can help you get the protection you need at an affordable price, so take some time to research and compare your options today. You’ll be glad that you did!

The Companies
There are many car insurance comparison websites to choose from. It’s important to do your homework before picking one. The first thing to look for is if the company offers the same level of coverage that you need. For example, if you have an older car, it might not be worth paying for comprehensive and collision coverage.
Other factors that should be considered when choosing a company are customer service availability, price, credit score requirements, and discounts offered. Also, consider how quickly they will pay out in case of a claim. Finally, consider what other services they offer besides car insurance like renter’s or homeowner’s policies.

Many factors go into determining the cost of your car insurance premium. These include your driving record, marital status, credit score, and even where you live. If you have a good record as a driver, marry later in life and live in a low-risk area with low crime rates, you might pay less for car insurance than someone who has a poor driving record or lives in an area with high crime rates. For instance, let’s say that person A is married and has never been convicted of a DUI or DWI, but person B is divorced with one conviction for DUI. The most expensive company for person A would be USAA at $2,381/year while the cheapest would be USAA at $1,010/year. For person B though, the most expensive company would be GEICO at $3175/year while the cheapest would be USAA at $990/year.

Customer Service
Geico is a customer service-oriented company and has a rating of 7.9 out of 10 according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Geico’s customer service centers are open 24/7 so they can answer your questions whenever you need them, and their representatives are always available to help you with your insurance needs. For example, if you’re looking for coverage during an emergency road trip but don’t know which state requires proof of auto insurance before it will grant an entry permit, then all you have to do is call Geico and a representative will provide the information.
Geico also allows customers to file claims by phone or over its website, simplifying what would be a cumbersome process for most other companies.

Many car insurance sites offer discounts to seniors, students, members of the military, and more. The best way to get a good deal is to compare prices across different sites. When comparing rates, it’s important to take into account deductible amounts as well as other factors that can make one site cheaper than another for your needs. For example, if you’re looking for comprehensive coverage with a $500 deductible, then you would need to go through each site’s offerings in order to find which company has the cheapest rate at that level of coverage. If you’re interested in liability-only coverage with a $250 deductible, then finding the right company could be easier.
The decision really comes down to what type of coverage or policy type you are after. If you want comprehensive insurance or full protection, going with an independent agent may be worth your while as they may be able to provide options not offered by an online comparison site.

Value vs. Cost
When deciding which site is the best for your car insurance needs, it is important to look at both value and cost. For example, one site might offer good coverage but with a high monthly premium. This would be a great option if you were looking for comprehensive coverage that comes with an expensive deductible. On the other hand, another site might offer less coverage but at a much lower price point. If you are interested in liability-only or liability and collision coverage, this would be a better fit for you. However, make sure you know exactly what your needs are before committing to anything! You can compare rates between sites by using our handy comparison tool (see link below) or you can call them directly and ask about their rates. Also, always check with your employer to see if they have discounts through any of these companies!

Check out our infographic
Are you in the market for car insurance? If so, you’re probably looking at a few different comparison sites. And while they may all seem to be the same, there are actually quite a lot of differences between them. For example, some only offer quotes from one company, while others are more like an aggregator that collects information from many sources. We created this infographic to help you figure out which car insurance site is best for your needs! There are too many options and it can feel overwhelming when comparing prices. Check out our infographic to find out who offers the most features or cheapest rates! The infographic compares six car insurance companies, including direct insurers such as Allstate and GEICO, as well as third-party providers such as CompareTheMarket, Coverhound, and MoneySupermarket. Click here to see the full graphic now.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Consider an Online Business Degree




10 Reasons Why You Should Consider an Online Business Degree

For many people, the idea of attending college and earning an actual degree in their chosen field of study isn’t very appealing. Not only do they have to deal with the time commitment and taking on mountains of debt, but they also have to physically attend classes every day. Fortunately, with online business degree programs, there’s no need to worry about all that nonsense. You can get all the advantages of a traditional college degree without any of the hassles or inconvenience that usually comes with it!

1) A new way to learn
Online learning has come a long way in the past few years. With online degrees, students can complete their education at their own pace and on their own schedule. Plus, with many online degree programs being accredited, it’s now easier than ever to get started in earning your degree without committing to a location.

2) Getting hands-on experience with virtual classes
Virtual classes are a great way to gain practical business experience without ever leaving your home. This allows you to work around your schedule, which is especially helpful if you have a full-time job. These classes will also allow you to explore different topics and subjects that might be outside of your comfort zone, which can broaden your knowledge base and give you the opportunity to learn something new.

3) Learning time flexibility
Online courses are usually self-paced, which means you can take them whenever it’s most convenient for you. This gives you the ability to take a course and study at your own pace, making it more manageable and freeing up time for other responsibilities in your life. In addition, because they’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, online courses are available when you need them most – even if that means late at night or early in the morning before work.

4) Ability to learn on your own terms
For many people, the idea of getting a degree is daunting. They’ve had to go through the process of applying for schools, taking out student loans, and dealing with all the pressure that comes along with such a big decision. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it that way anymore. With online business degree programs accredited by respected universities like Penn State University and the University of North Texas, you can learn on your own terms from home or office, at your own pace. And what’s more?

5) Gain valuable, real-world experience in a classroom setting
In addition to gaining valuable, real-world experience in a classroom setting, students enrolled in online degree programs are eligible to take on internships and earn college credits. And as the number of colleges offering online degrees continues to rise, so too does the number of opportunities available to today’s graduates.

6) Understanding all areas of business operations
It’s important to learn how to think and make decisions like a business owner. This is one of the most valuable skills you can have. With an online business degree, you’ll be able to take courses in accounting, marketing, management, leadership, and more. These courses can help you understand all aspects of operating a business like hiring employees, negotiating contracts, and creating budgets.

7) Variety of business degree programs are offered online
We understand that you may be hesitant to enroll in a business degree program without first talking to a representative. We can help set your mind at ease by providing the following benefits of our online business degree programs:
-A variety of courses available (e.g., accounting, finance, marketing)
-A range of course lengths (e.g., one-semester vs.

8) The convenience factor
Online classes allow you to access your courses from any computer with the internet. This means that you can study from home, the office, or even on a plane. Plus, online courses are often more affordable than traditional university programs. If you have limited funds and don’t want to take out loans, this is a perfect solution for you.
What’s more, is that there are plenty of scholarships available for those who qualify! Some universities offer up to 90% of tuition assistance when students apply for financial aid. The awardees will need to maintain satisfactory academic progress as well as fulfill certain obligations after graduation. So if you’re interested in an online business degree program but unsure about whether it’ll work out financially, explore these scholarship opportunities first!

9) Grow your professional network through class projects and internships
A great way to grow your professional network is through class projects and internships. These allow you to take what you learn in the classroom, apply it to real-life scenarios, and build connections with fellow classmates. Find a community of like-minded students: Sometimes we all need encouragement from someone who understands how we feel.

10) Need-based financial aid available online
Many online business degrees are offered through private, accredited institutions. One of the benefits of these programs is that they provide financial aid to help offset the cost of tuition. This can make a degree less expensive than it would be if you were to attend a brick-and-mortar school. Plus, many online schools offer flexible class schedules and easy access to professors and course materials. The downside to these programs is that they don’t always provide the same level of hands-on experience as traditional schools do.

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10 Tips to Help You Sell Your House Faster Than Average




1) Move

  1. Clear out the clutter.
  2. Get rid of any furniture that doesn’t sell with the house.
  3. Spend a little money on paint and carpet if you need it to make the space more attractive to prospective buyers.
  4. Make sure your house is spotless (particularly kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms). 5. Have all repairs completed before showing the home to potential buyers. 6. Update appliances, fixtures, and flooring for modern tastes so they will be in style for years to come even after you’re gone. 7.

2) Showcase

  1. Price it right. The days of underpricing your house are long gone. Studies show that if you price your house well and you have a clean, high-quality home with fresh paint and a yard that’s well-maintained, you’ll be more likely to sell it faster than if you overprice it.
  2. Get rid of the clutter. Clutter creates a negative perception in buyers’ minds before they’ve even walked in the door.

3) Marketing material
-Get the Home Ready for Sale: The more showable your home is, the better chance it will have of selling quickly.
-Price it Right: It’s critical that you price your property correctly. If you’re overpriced, buyers will think they’ll be able to negotiate a lower price and if you’re underpriced, you might end up leaving money on the table.

4) Price it right
First, it’s important to assess the market value of your home. This will help you set a realistic price, and also ensure that you don’t underprice your home and lose money in the long term. Next, make sure that your home is well-presented by sprucing up the curb appeal with landscaping and new paint on the outside of your house. As well as making small changes like switching out light fixtures or adding new hardware on cabinet doors.

5) Set up showings
The number one tip for selling your house fast is to get it on the market as quickly as possible. Make sure that your home is clean and well-maintained so that buyers will be able to see themselves living there. One way you can do this is by decluttering, deep cleaning, and staging your house. Once your home looks like a buyer’s dream, make sure that you set up showings. Once someone falls in love with it, they’ll make an offer faster than most people might think!

6) Know your market
The process of selling a house is never easy, but if you know your market and have the right marketing plan, then you’ll be able to sell your house faster than average. Check out these 10 tips that will help you sell your house faster. 1) Create an advertising campaign with a clear focus on the target audience and their needs. 2) Set up online listings on sites like Zillow or Trulia to ensure maximum exposure.

7) De-clutter the essential stuff
Clear your clutter. Getting rid of the stuff you don’t need will make your house feel bigger and more open. It will also make it easier for potential buyers to envision themselves living there, which is one of the most important things about selling a home quickly. Don’t move anything else in: It’s tempting to try to update your house with new furniture or paint colors, but that can slow down the sale process and cause people to hesitate.

8) De-clutter everything else, or hire someone to do it
When it comes to selling your house, less is more! One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to selling a home is that you need to spend money on renovations and redecorating. The opposite is true, in fact. Paring down your belongings and simplifying your space is not only easier but will also help you sell faster for a higher price!

9) Get it ready!
You might be tempted to skip some of these steps, but don’t. A quick fix-up will make the difference between a stale listing and a fresh one, and it will give you the best shot of selling your house at the best price in the shortest amount of time. Don’t take shortcuts with anything that makes a difference – paint, new carpeting, landscaping. The buyer should have the impression that they are moving into their dream home as soon as they enter your home!

10) Keep in touch with realtors and potential buyers
In order to sell your house faster than average, make sure you keep in touch with realtors and potential buyers. Make yourself available for showings and answer questions promptly. Plus, if you know that you are going to be away on vacation or out of town, let your realtor know about it in advance so they can notify interested parties about the upcoming vacancy.

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