Acceleration or bootstrap?

My startup got a shot at an accelerator and they are asking for 15% of the company in return for a near $300k investment ($100k in cash, $200k in services). Plus, they have a lot of expertise in B2B, which is the basis of the company business model, but the biggest network connections are from ourselves.

My partners and I have enough resources to go bootstrap for at least one more year.

I’m struggling to understand which is the best scenario for the company. Should we be accelerated or suffer a little longer with the bootstrap runway and keep the entire company?

  • It would depend on a few things

    a) Is this your first rodeo? If it is, and if the accelerator has had decent success, it might be advantageous to get a head start.

    b) What’s your goal for the company? If its build to flip, you might also want to take it as it might bring an exit quicker. If its long term, then you might want to consider the equity dilution. $100K in cash really isn’t much.

  • We worked with a potential investor who was going to invest time, and leverage their expertise to help us win in the market we target. We told them we wanted to do a project together first (date before getting married).

    I’m really glad we did that, because after a week it was clear that they knew nothing about our market and didn’t want to take the time to learn (and they were very self-righteous about it). We parted ways, and I’m relieved they don’t have part of my company.

    Not everyone is a douchebag, just be sure you know who you are jumping into bed with. Take it slow, and if you have some runway, leverage it.

  • Bootstrap or acceleration is a personal choice, both are ok so it depends mainly on your own feelings if nothing forces you to get funded right now. I just want to say something about the 200K in services. I don’t know your accelerator, but I think it is a commercial organisation which has people to pay, offices to rent, and other fixed charges. Because they offer this “for free”, they are tempted to overprice. You won’t check competitors prices for the same services, would you ? So, you can be sure it’s overpriced. Second, if you really had to pay for those services, in most cases you wouldn’t sign for them. You would think it is not absolutely necessary to your activity. Most of it is certainly a waste.

    So, if you are tempted by acceleration, check if you can pick the services you really need, and check if you can choose cheeper competitors for the services you really need (probably not, but you should ask). Then, consider if you could give 15% of your company for 100K in cash plus maybe what you would have accepted to pay 10, 20 or 50K if it were not in a package.

    • +1

      A big danger with “services offered” isn’t just the price tag, it is that you don’t have full latitude to choose service providers. A higher cost isn’t nearly as damaging as a 2nd rate provider (or worse).

      As for valuation: $300K for 15% is a $2M pre. This isn’t impressive by any stretch of imagination.

      As for connections: if they aren’t Y-combinator, there are few accelerators indeed which are “money in the bank”. I’d look very carefully, closely, and critically at what the accelerator is supposed to be able to do for you – and to ask around and see if previous generations in said accelerator got this.

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