During SOCAP 2018, leaders from 25 accelerator programs came together for a five-hour session to celebrate our wins over the past five years and look ahead to the next five. These accelerators are learning from the past by challenging the status quo, empowering entrepreneurs with urgency, practicing inclusivity, and focusing on solving critical challenges facing the planet.

These leaders are also shifting the accelerator ecosystem by adopting new practices informed by our learning over the last five years. Below we share some of the key learnings and changes from the past 5 years:

Ecosystem Evolutions in Acceleration:

Today, curriculum is more focused on investment readiness and building the peer community, but it was stressed  that it is also important to support entrepreneurs in building soft skills moving beyond just the pitch.

Convening social entrepreneurs on where they are: 

Accelerators are better at supporting leaders without taking them out of their businesses.  The traditional accelerator model as seen with Unreasonable Institute back in 2010 required entrepreneurs to travel to their home base, Boulder Colorado in this case, and live together for 12 weeks.  This is 3 months taken away from the daily work of their businesses. Now we see programs like Miller Center’s GSBI Boost program meeting entrepreneurs in their communities for a 3 day deep dive. Akina Foundation runs a program that has almost 1 full month between each week of their curriculum ensuring that the entrepreneurs can integrate what they are learning into their businesses.

Five Years of Learning:

We know that accelerators are changing the status quo by leading with:

  • Participant centered programing
  • Creatively disrupting investments
  • Leveraging data and enhancing transparency
  • Integrating cultural and ancestry knowledge to bring economic and spiritual value
  • Moving companies from the idea stage to having meaningful revenue and customers
Photo credits: ImpactCity


What’s next for the AtA community? We see a focus on the right solutions and partnerships, meeting leaders where they are at, and empowerment of new voices. Next you will find trends and predictions for the future.

Trends in the Next 5 years:

  • Giving power away— even if that means taking big risks in branding (the message here is ‘entrepreneurs are the main actors and accelerators are the supporting actors’).
  • Local leaders with greater access (i.e. connecting international funding to local organizations).
  • More people of color leading in asset management.
  • Cohort models as a key ingredient for success— with the right team-building processes, entrepreneurs keep in touch, follow up, and support each other during and long after their program has ended.

Conveners.org Predicts Accelerating the Accelerators Themes for 2019-2023:

  • Removing barriers for underrepresented entrepreneurs
  • Applying a common measurement framework for vetting startups
  • Virtual conferences and cohorts focused on collaboration
  • Building capability for women-led social enterprises to have greater reach
  • Development of inclusive leadership curriculum
  • Targeted data and evidence used for decision making
  • Engagement of corporate/foundation partners (for launch collaborative programming)
  • Tech tools to help accelerators do their work better, faster, smarter (i.e. application review, impact assessment, due diligence)

Stay tuned! Our next community call will be MONDAY, DECEMBER 10th at 4:00pm PT / 7:00pm ET. RSVP Today.

Finally, here is a huge shout out to Pamela Roussos, Chief Innovation Officer at Santa Clara’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and current Emeritus Board Member of Conveners.org, for her talents in facilitation, field-building, and great co-hosted sessions like this one!

Photo credits: ComunitasAmerica