Since the first gathering of the Accelerating the Accelerators community at SOCAP14, we have grown from 35 to over 80 program managers representing 60 plus organizations. On October 10, at SOCAP15, and The Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship collaborated on the second annual Accelerating the Accelerators Co-Hosted Session. This session explored tools, resources, and pain points for program managers within the impact accelerator ecosystem by examining the path of the entrepreneur.

Program leaders gained value from sharing insights with one another and having the opportunity to engage in a candid and open conversation. The accelerator ecosystem has exploded from 30 programs six years ago to over 200 programs today.  One major impact of this growth is the increasing difficulty that both entrepreneurs and investors are having navigating the impact accelerator ecosystem.  In addition, accelerator program managers are also experiencing difficulty sourcing entrepreneurs in an increasingly competitive marketplace.  

To follow the path of the entrepreneur through the accelerator ecosystem, we covered four topics at this session:

  1. Assessment of Industry Channels for Sourcing Social Entrepreneurs
  2. Impact Accelerator Common Application
  3. Program Evaluation and Understanding Community Relationships
  4. Building Lasting Community For Mentors, Investors, and Alumni.

These topics will be released in a series of articles over the next 6 months.

Assessment of Industry Channels for Sourcing Social Entrepreneurs: Program leaders shared over 100 channels they use for sourcing entrepreneurs. Program managers can learn from and apply these channels to their recruitment process. In addition, social entrepreneurs could use these channels to help them navigate the best ways to apply to impact accelerators.

We also discussed the concept of an Impact Accelerator Common Application. There has been a long-term discussion about the creation of a common application and the potential value for impact accelerators and social entrepreneurs. We discussed some of the advantages and challenges of a common application and the many point of views of the accelerators.  These points of view will be explored in a blog highlighting the various efforts to date, third party attempts, and the preferred format as shared by program managers at SOCAP15.

Program Evaluation and Understanding Community Relationships was also discussed in depth with the participants during the session. This conversation focused on understanding the most effective methods of measuring relationships within the community, understanding to what extent external evaluators are useful, and assessing metrics of interest.  These insights will be shared in a blog post highlighting the various external evaluation efforts, their effectiveness within the community, and the preferred evaluation methods from the perspective of program managers.

Building Lasting Community was another important piece that was discussed. We discussed how to build lasting communities of mentors, investors and alumni. There were several useful ideas and suggestions that we look forward to sharing in an upcoming blog series with a deep dive into each of these communities.


Collective Impact Projects

During this session, we also identified four Collective Impact Projects (CIP) for the community to undertake together:

  1. Ongoing Group Communication
  2. Resource Pooling to Reduce Costs
  3. Alumni and Graduate Resources
  4. Improving Program Referrals

You can read more about these CIPs on the Collective Impact Projects page.

Thank you to all of our participants at SOCAP15.  As always we are honored by the commitment of program leaders to collaboration and sharing of best practices and insights.  At it is a pleasure to support the development of the ecosystem and we look forward to sharing the insights of participants with the larger accelerator community.