Event Spotlight: Boston Accelerators - The Clean Tech Open PerspectiveJanuary 25, 2016
This week Katherine MacDonald, the Executive Director of the Clean Tech Open’s Northwest Division tells us about her perspective when it comes to Boston area Accelerators and what entrepreneurs need to know. Panelist at The Capital Network’s event called ‘Boston Accelerators: Navigating Your Options’ she highlights that for Clean Tech Open, their advantage is their sector-specific focus.
Here in Boston, startups have no shortage of accelerators to choose from to help turn their business ideas into full-fledged companies. But it can be hard for startups to understand which accelerator is best for their industry or stage of development. The Capital Network’s recent panel “Boston Accelerators: Navigating Your Options,” where I was a featured speaker, showcased the breadth of support for entrepreneurs through programs like MassChallenge, Techstars, BetaSpring and InnoLoft, in addition to our very own Cleantech Open Northeast. The panel was a great event for my fellow accelerator colleagues and I to discuss our programs and offer advice to startups contemplating which accelerator to join. Luckily, many of the Boston-area accelerator programs allow entrepreneurs to participate in multiple programs. In fact, over the past two years Cleantech Open Northeast and MassChallenge alone have had six startups overlap between their programs. Also, early stage accelerators like Cleantech Open Northeast can help startups get into later stage accelerators like Techstars down the road. Beta Spring Managing Director Melissa Withers’ advice to startups was that when it comes to accelerators, you truly get what you give. “Companies have to put in the effort, go to events, use the resources in front of you,” she said. We all agreed that entrepreneurs should trust their gut when deciding where to apply. Most companies know who they are and what they need from an accelerator, so it’s important to take the time to research what makes each one unique before signing up. Do you need mentorship? Cleantech Open Northeast provides three mentors. Do you need workspace or human resources? MassChalleng provides it’s participants access to it’s office space in the Seaport Distrirct, while InnoLoft provides companies access to own employee base. At Cleantech Open, we know that when it comes to cleantech companies, our industry specific focus has been vital to our success. As noted in our 2015 Annual Report “Cleantech Open Northeast: A Decade of Impact, 100 percent of our entrepreneurs would recommend the program and plan to stay involved even after they graduate.