For kids, having to attend summer school is a sentence worse than prison. But for entrepreneurs looking for help getting their business launched, taking some courses at the brand new AcceleratorU might seem like a great idea.
At least that’s what this new online-only accelerator program hopes as it makes its public launch with the Summer of Innovation Challenge. Co-founders Simon Brightman and Cindy Gordon are challenging entrepreneurs to commit to their business idea by registering for online courses at their new program.
“We challenge everyone to be able to boost 100 company ideas over the course of the summer,” Brightman says in a telephone interview. “We offer online courses that teach you everything you need to know to go from idea through to validation.”
Canada has seen several high-profile accelerators launch in the last couple of years. Programs are emerging that emulate the model of startup mentoring hubs like 500 Startups and TechStars. Typically, the programs offer startup businesses a physical location to work in, a scheduled curriculum designed to rapidly develop their business model, mentorship and networking opportunities, and even some investment funding. Accelerators launching since 2011 include Extreme Startups, MaRS’ Jolt, Incubes, and Communitech’s Hypderive.
AcceleratorU is designed to fill the gap left by the model those programs follow, Brightman says. By offering online courses that are open to anyone globally, the program doesn’t uproot part-time entrepreneurs trying to hold down a day job or require anyone to move to participate in the program. There are a lot of great startups in Canada that aren’t getting picked up by accelerator programs, Brightman says.
“We’re looking at the folks that didn’t get in,” he says. “If you’ve been doing this on your own and you’re stuck, this is what we’d like you to consider.”
AcceleratorU offers an “Online Venture Program” that can be completed in seven weeks designed to help entrepreneurs take ideas and turn them into products. The live program includes 28 hours of “classroom training” and includes support from experienced entrepreneurs. The discounted cost is $297 and an interview chat is required for the admissions process.
There are also on-demand courses currently available in an a la carte style. A six module course on product validation costs $24.97, and a free module is currently available about “The 5 Things We Look For In A Great Product.”
AcceleratorU plans to announce a major technology vendor as a sponsor this week, Brightman says. It will host an executive luncheon series at that time to make the announcement.