Five tips for succeeding in a startup accelerator program

Five tips for succeeding in a startup accelerator program

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[Guestpost by Mik Nijhuis]

I’m a serial entrepreneur and coder. Together with my business partner and friend Joost Hietbrink we’ve setup several businesses, successfully sold one (YelloYello), currently running a few and just launched our latest: WP Fit (very excited about this one!). Based on our experience going through Startupbootcamp with Joopp, I’ve compiled a list of 5 things we ourselves should have done (better) preparing for the accelerator program. 

5-point (reality)checklist

1. KPIs (for the program)

What if you get the opportunity to run your business on steroids for 3 months. What would you like to have achieved after three months? Don’t be vague with goals like ‘grow my business’ or ‘get investment’. Make it crystal clear: ‘achieve monthly growth of 10%’, ‘raise 200K’, ‘grow dev team with 10FTE’, ‘find distribution channel where LTV/CAC > 3’, ‘close 2 distribution deals worth 50K+ ARR’ After the 3 months, you need to be able to say if the program was a success for you or not.

2. Business model

Sure, your current model will be shaken or even broken during the program, but you still need one before joining. Keep it simple, have something like this filled in. A simple, yet complete overview of your numbers on one sheet.



Make sure you’ve filled in the business model canvas as well. It will be used (and changed) during the program as a blueprint of your model.




3. Roadmap

Have one! It can be something as simple as a list:

  1. Launch MVP
  2. News coverage
  3. Get first 10 customers
  4. Start content marketing efforts
  5. Sign-up for StartupBootcamp
  6. Sign-up distribution partner
  7. 100 happy customers
  8. Launch referral program
  9. Start paid search campaign
  10. 200 happy customers
  11. ..

Then add dates to (all) those items so it spans 1 year for example. Or use a dedicated (and free for startups) tool like Aha.ioGreat way to visualize your roadmap without the extra work.




4. Get some mileage

Ideally you’ve already launched an MVP and you’ve done some validation. Validation is something you can do very quickly and with limited resources. I would recommend to do this before joining an accelerator like Startupbootcamp. Use the results as input for your program’s KPIs. As an example, this is how I’ve done basic validation in 10 days.

 Let’s assume you’ve a prototype for a product or service which is not ready to be sold just now, yet you still want to do basic validation. The way I see it, there are only two main ways to do this, ‘push’ or ‘pull’ (just made those terms up, so bare with me).


With ‘push’ I’m referring to doing interviews, questionnaires, etc. You need to come up with smart questions, find the people and then annoy them. This approach is widely used as part of the lean startup method. To get started, read this is a great Survey Monkey example (2012, but still valid!). I’m sure you can find more examples here.


Create a landing page (with signup form) pitching your product or service as if it’s ready to be sold (or almost). Next, you need to try to pull in potential customers and see if they sign up or at least get in touch. Send out emails, share it on socials and perhaps even pay for some traffic in order to get visitors. Measure it all. If you’re an entrepreneur that can code (ideally you are) then simply bootstrap a page quickly yourself. If not, use LanderApp, Unbounce or InstaPage. All have either a free plan or free-trial, so you don’t have to spend a penny!

I recommend the ‘pull-way’. It’s more ‘real-life’ then doing interviews or sending out questionnaires. It’s also more complete, since you’re basically testing potential channels as well. It doesn’t have to require more time either. You can do all this behind your laptop and don’t have to plan meetings and interviews with (very busy) people.

5. 100% immersion mindset

Are you ready mentally and practically? Prepare to spend 100% of your time on the program. But remember, you’re actually dedicating this time building your business! If it doesn’t feel like that, you should adjust your KPI’s and roadmap for the three months. Keep in mind: an acceleStartupBootcamp is a means to an end.

Mik Nijhuis (top image right) is the founder of WPFit, unlimited WordPress-as-a-service for €69 a month. Get in touch with me if you have any questions regarding the above or anything else startup/business related. Disclosure: Silicon Canals is a customer. Get 10% off the first three months using the code: silicon canals. Click here to sign-up.