The Think Big Accelerator was formed on a few essential beliefs:
- Good ideas can come from anywhere.
- Relationships matter, but don’t always have to be made in your own backyard to be meaningful.
- Capital, in all its forms, is equally critical to a successful startup. This includes financial capital (money), human capital (the right people) and intellectual capital (work smart, not just hard).
- Good ideas are overrated.
- Execution is everything.
- Speed can be a dangerous thing. Being too fast or too slow can produce disastrous results when applied at the wrong times.
- It’s critical to understand what you are trying to achieve and then have a plan.
- Entrepreneurs must have a plan, even if it’s a bad one. The only thing you need to be right about from the get-go is your business goal.
- Discipline and objectivity are the guiding principles to keeping business goals in focus.
- Test everything but be prepared to make a decision on something sooner than later.
- Embrace the fact that you will learn more by starting once you have 80% of everything you need to know. Building fast and breaking things is a part of the process.
- Communication and collaboration are force multipliers to get things done fast.
- Creativity is the overlooked X factor ingredient that can be the tipping point to success.
- Understanding the power of networks (Metcalfe’s Law) can unlock powerful results.
- Creating mutually beneficial partnerships, while maintaining separate agendas, creates win-win opportunities.
- Co-opetition (cooperative competition) works with the right partners.
- Both individual achievement and team accomplishments should be recognized, but it’s the team that makes everything come together.
- Role, rank, authority and expertise are very different things. Know the difference.
- Be coachable.
- Being an expert is something, to include your work.
- Respect individuality and find every team player’s unique ability.
- Believe in the power of your idea, but don’t fall in love with the first version of it. Fall in love with what the idea can do if done correctly.
- Accept the fact that it will often take twice as much money and twice as much time to build your startup company. Be prepared and committed from the start...or don’t start at all.
- Failing is not always a bad thing. It can be a temporary condition and vital to the process of building the right company. Or another idea.
- If you are going to fail, fail fast and fail cheap. Fail while you still have the resources available to learn from your experience and build the right product or service.
- Remember the power of the pivot. Pivot as many times as you can, as fast as you can.
- If you build the right company, you will either solve a problem or fulfill a need for someone that is willing to pay for your product or service.
- Anyone can run a sprint. Almost anyone can run a marathon. You must be prepared to do both.
- Entrepreneurship is messy and not that glamorous. Be prepared to miss the occasional meal and full 8 hours of sleep.
- Creating a profitable company is the ultimate barometer success.
As experienced entrepreneurs, we understand what it takes to achieve some level of success. With that said, we have yet to find a universal recipe for success. But we have made a few realizations based on our own personal observations.
Some of these observations came from our early-stage business incubator. Others emerged from our coworking space for entrepreneurs. A few came from working with entrepreneurs in helping them build profitable companies. And some even came from looking at piles of data, reports and studies that have tried to list the ingredients for a successful startup. There are many different sources of inspiration in designing the Think Big Accelerator, but we have come to a conclusion that only a few things seem to be a common denominator of startup success.
- It’s all about process
You have to understand the process of building a profitable company. Success does not simply happen overnight. The startup processis not rigid enough to have absolute boundaries, but it does have a few key elements: having a plan, finding the right people, understanding your next milestone, establishing your long-term goal and having the resources to execute it while the opportunity still exists.
- Understand what needs to be done...and when
Just-in-time delivery of resources means exactly that–JUST IN TIME. Do not form a company while an idea is still in the idea-risk stage. On the other hand, do not neglect to form a company when the idea needs to be protected and owned. Have a plan that includes milestones and goals.
- Attract the right people
This is a tricky one–especially in the Midwest. The world is becoming increasingly flat and connected through the use of technology. But today, the need for real relationships is more important than ever before. Companies and technology are not what gets things done, people do. Utilize technology to maximize people and their talents on behalf of a team, not neutralize individual contribution and obfuscate results.
- Remember that talented people come in all forms
Your team could be made up of 55-year old tech gurus or a 23-year old experts. Be prepared to look beyond labels to find the right team members and conditions to win.
- Keep in mind that successful people come with baggage
This “baggage” may mean spouses. Kids. Companies that they still own (but hopefully don’t still operate day to day – at least not during the accelerator program). Boards they sit on. Everyone has this so-called “baggage”. You have to allow people to maintain some semblance of a work-life balance during an accelerator program, or you may fail to attract some of the most successful candidates. Create a program that works for successful people.
- Recognize the need to move faster than ever before
In this hyper-connected world, opportunities do not exist forever. To achieve maximum results, you have to be prepared to seize the initiative when it presents itself.
- Teams win
Creating your minimum viable product (MVP) will require many different people, at different times, for different amounts of work. If you need highly-talented people but do not have access or can afford to hire them full time, find a team that can insert themselves as needed.
- Don’t confuse effort for impact
Results are almost everything. The time-based economy has skewed our sense of perspective, sometimes penalizing people who are able to achieve results in half the time compared to others. Results matter, as long as you achieve them in an ethical fashion that you are willing to be proud of.
- People achieve a lot when they’re focused
Remove distractions, be fully engaged while working, but be able to manage your other responsibilities. Being able to run a sprint is only possible when you understand where the finish line is. Being able to run a marathon can look like a series of sprints, with rest periods in between. You need to be able to do both.
- Everyone has something to offer
Be part of the solution and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. You will learn more from others by listening, but be willing to offer occasional help too. Pay it forward, but be prepared for much in return.
- Have fun
Take it seriously, but not too seriously. Building a startup company is hard. You need to have fun while working ridiculous hours–and occasionally put down your work and have fun too.
The Think Big Accelerator Program is an intensive 14-week program with the goal to help you turn your idea into a profitable company.
During the 14-week period, the Think Big Accelerator will:
- Help you further evaluate your idea utilizing our Proof of Concept Rapid Innovation Sequence Method (PRISM)--your first virtual pre-build pivot
- Determine problem: Solution opportunities using directed innovation methods
- Identify product: Feature sets to understand potential Minimum Viable Product (MVP) forms
- Assess execution risk
- Determine return in investment (ROI) scenarios and capital structures
- Assess competitive landscape
- Uncover strategic partnership opportunities for investment and execution capabilities
- Sharpen your focus to identify the best version of your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
- Create a working plan to help you build your product or service utilizing a disciplined, milestone-based process that is managed by our own project management team
- Help you access resources needed to achieve milestones in order to evolve your idea into a demonstrable technology
- Create a marketing plan that will allow consumer feedback with clear insight into the marketing loop
- Offer ongoing coaching and mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs, subject matter experts and individuals with relevant domain expertise to your startup
- Gain access to resources to include valuable introductions to network partners, service providers and syndication partners around the country
- Create a final MVP form with a concise, relevant investor pitch and presentation deck
- Take you to Demo Day and help you attract funding to continue the commercialization path
Other goals of the program:
- Help you find your first customer
- Gain insight to your Alpha version and prepare your first pivot as you contemplate your Beta version (“creative destruction” based on MVP feedback, market assessment and opportunity development)
- Help you connect to other resources (even potential “competitors”) should you pivot outside of our domain of expertise during the program
- Eliminate redundant education (101 and 201 knowledge level) for experienced entrepreneurs
- Maximize your time working while still allowing you to maintain a work-life balance
- Create meaningful ongoing alumni relationships once you are a graduate of our program
The Selection Process
The Think Big Accelerator program is designed to allow entrepreneurs to be highly focused while building their company – and still be able to maintain other critical obligations (family, mission critical business interests, etc). Because of this unique model, we are highly selective in identifying the right candidates for this program.
During the 14-week program, candidates will be required to be in Kansas City for approximately half of the time. The Kansas City portions will officially begin Monday afternoons and will require intense dedication and focus on results until participants leave on Thursday evening. During this time, “work sprints” will take place and milestones will be achieved on a weekly basis. On Thursday evening, participants have the option to go back home to maintain relationships with family, become re-energized and refocus their talent for the upcoming week.
During your stay in Kansas City, you will primarily work inside of bizperc, Think Big Partners’ modern collaborative coworking space for entrepreneurs. Located in the Crossroads District in Downtown Kansas City, you will enjoy the unique amenities of our location: state-of-the-art technology, WiFi-enabled rooftop workspace and an urban loft feel await you. Enjoy your favorite coffee drink from our full-blown coffee bar with your own barista. We also have assembled some of the most compelling resources for you, to make your stay in Kansas City both productive and highly enjoyable. Make no mistake, you will be working very hard. But you will also be working very smart.
You have 2 options, but either program will undergo the same rigorous screen process:
Option 1: Traditional model
- You will receive $18,000 + $3,000 per founder (up to 2 founders) for a 6%-8% equity stake in your company.
Option 2: Alternative model
- For those entrepreneurs that want all the benefits of the program but either do not need the investment or feel their valuation is significantly higher than the traditional program; you have the option to pay fee-for-service. Typical fee for service will range from $3,000-$6,000 per month, dependent on resources needed.
In addition to our traditional, 14-week program, we have designed an experienced founder track* for those founders who do not need 101 and 201 level education on entrepreneurship. We reserve the right to make final determination eligibility, but for those who already know basic information, we will eliminate redundant (remedial) education.
You decide which is right for you. On the application form, please mark which version you need, or both if you want to be considered for either model AND track.
Experienced Founder Track