Mentoring in Accelerators: Analyzing the State of the Art

by Justus Paulsen, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany

The strive for innovation has been the focus of entrepreneurs for many years. Due to the strive for innovation, paradigm shifts such as the industrialization could be achieved. But for a long time, innovation was produced randomly by individuals and was not organized. In the recent years accelerator organizations have been trying to organize the innovation process to accelerate the growth of new start-ups (Cohen und Hochberg 2014). 

By Providing the start-ups with expertise on their respective field and knowledge about common business processes, the accelerator tries to increase the start-up’s chance of success and pacing of development. Mentoring is the key aspect of the knowledge transfer, as Mentors do not only posses theoretical knowledge but also practical experience and can give advice on specific problems (Cohen et al. 2018; Yitshaki und Drori).          

While the literature matches on the importance of mentoring in accelerators, there is a surprising lack of research regarding the process design. As mentoring often differentiates the accelerators from each other, the exact process is kept a secret. While some similarities between the mentoring design of accelerators were identified (Cohen et al. 2018), it was also pointed out that the mentoring process is unstructured and dependent on the mentor (Yitshaki und Drori). 

The book chapter “mentoring in accelerators – analysing the state of the art” deals with this contradiction and tries to achieve clarity on the mentoring process of accelerators. The approach is to analyse the literature on mentoring in accelerators as well as compare the existing literature on mentoring and accelerators, to find clues on the mentoring design of accelerators.     

The key takeaway of the book chapter is that mentoring in accelerators highly depends on the quality of the individual mentors. Due to the mentor’s freedom in approaching the design of the mentoring, the skills of each mentor determine the effectiveness of the mentoring process. The similarities between the accelerators focus on the general structure of the process, e. g. the number of mentors that are provided for each venture. The accelerators try to achieve a broad pool of knowledge by providing the entrepreneurs with several mentors. 

If you want to find out more about the topic mentoring in accelerators and accelerators in general, feel free to read our e-book.

References

Cohen, S., & Hochberg, Y. (2014). Accelerating Startups: The Seed Accelerator Phenomenon. SSRN Electronic Journal. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2418000.

Cohen, S. L., Bingham, C. B., & Hallen, B. L. (2018). The Role of Accelerator Designs in Mitigating Bounded Rationality in New Ventures. Administrative Science Quarterly64(4), 810–854. https://doi.org/10.1177/0001839218782131.

Yitshaki, R., & Drori, I. Understanding mentorship processes. In Accelerators (pp. 53–80). https://doi.org/10.4337/9781786434098.00008 (Original work published 2018).

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