Incorporating social good into your business model is no longer just a nice idea. Consumers have come to expect it and are even willing to pay more for a product from a company that has impact, accountability, and ethics at its core.
But launching a successful social impact startup, like any new business, requires financial support and guidance. Now, a new tool is helping social entrepreneurs find the right business accelerators to get their ideas off the ground.
The Accelerator Selection Tool, created by nonprofit Conveners in collaboration with Sphaera, ImpactSpace, and other partners, weeds through the hundreds of social impact accelerators out there in order to find the right one for you. It launched this week at the Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP) in San Francisco.
Users can search for accelerators by name or location, but the truly helpful feature is the ability to choose from a variety of filters in the top menu: Impact Region, Impact Focus, Program Offering, Corporate Form, Stage, and Travel.
For example, if your idea is to help women in Kenya gain access to financial services and empowerment, and you’re primarily looking for mentorship in your startup’s nascent stage, the accelerator Spring could be the perfect choice.
Conveners calls the tool “the first aggregator of its kind,” and it could cut down hours of work searching for the right accelerator — time that, for a new startup founder, is better spent elsewhere.
“Many of the entrepreneurs I talk to said that one of the things that took a lot of their time — sometimes as much as 100 hours — was figuring out what accelerator to apply to,” Avary Kent, executive director of Conveners, told Fast Company. “I feel like entrepreneurs should be spending time building their businesses, not figuring out which program can provide the right support.”
The Accelerator Selection Tool has 750 accelerators in its database. People who work at accelerators, incubators, fellowship programs, and competitions can add themselves to the search results by creating a profile in ImpactSpace’s database.
A lot of entrepreneurs probably know several popular incubators and accelerators in this space by name. There’s Benetech Labs in California, Echoing Green in New York, Uncharted (previously the Unreasonable Institute) in Colorado, IMPACT in Europe, and even Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator, which has a wider scope but a growing focus on social impact startups.
But just because an accelerator has name recognition doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for all social enterprises, especially at different stages of development.
The Accelerator Selection Tool is poised to be a startup founder’s best chance at cutting out the time-consuming process of finding an accelerator and getting started on what really matters: changing the world.