7 Tips for Getting into Lisbon Challenge (or any other accelerator)

July 4, 2016

Alright, we all know how difficult it is to get into a top accelerator. You apply with your startup, you wait for the reply and then when the time comes, it’s either the cheer look on your face or the disappointment settling in. And filling in the application plays a major role in this.

So, how can you get the perfect application that will get everybody’s attention and join Lisbon Challenge right on time for the Web Summit this Fall? What should you add and emphasize? What’s the “make it or break it” factor? Well, just keep on reading because you’re about to find out.

We get hundreds of applications for Lisbon Challenge and it’s a long and arduous job to go through each one of them. In order to move on to the next phase, you really need to stand out by following these tips:

1.Team, team, team

I know this might sound a bit of a cliché. Everyone talks about the importance of having a good team but that’s no coincidence. Whenever we go through applications, the team is usually what grabs our attention. This is because, at such an early stage of your startup, there is very little evidence to show that your idea is amazing. So, instead, we rely on the team behind it, and their execution capacities, as well as their analytical skills. We like to see how teams validated their idea, specifically what tactics they used, and what conclusions they took out of it. Explain exactly what each one of you does, the background, why you’re building this startup together, etc. We definitely value more teams that have founders that cover both main areas: product and business. Also, clearly explain the equity distribution, because it helps us determine individual motivation and founders direction.

2. Do your homework

It’s really important that our accelerator matches your startup and your own expectations. For Lisbon Challenge we only take startups that are in product development phase, focusing on product-market fit, in particular. This can be Prototype, closed Beta, or MVP. We are not looking for startups that are focusing on growth, sales or internationalization (we used to, but not anymore), instead, we want startups that are building their final versions based on recent problem-solution validation. We like startups that apply lean analytics to their product development and are drawing conclusion based on customer behavior.

3. Get a recommendation

Most of the selected startups for Lisbon Challenge were referred to us by someone within our network of entrepreneurs and investors. See if you can find someone who has been through Lisbon Challenge before or someone close to the Beta-i network and ask for a introductory email.

4. Be detailed and know your numbers

Explain your product and business well. If you’re building a complex technical product, take your time to explain it and find a comparison so that it’s easy to understand the importance of your solution. You should be able to “sell” us your vision and demonstrate clearly what is your roadmap to achieve this vision. If you have any metrics on traction, KPIs or analytics, the more you share with us the better, but remember, you should always explain what are the underlining conclusions you have drawn from it, so we can get a sense of your decision-making process.

5. No bullshit (go straight to the point)

Even though you have to be detailed about your product and know your numbers, that doesn’t necessarily mean bullshit. Go straight to the point and answer the questions. If you don’t have numbers to show don’t try to fake it. Instead, just explain you don’t have it yet, but tell us about how you validated the idea, and what are the numbers you want to track in the future, why, and why will they help you determine your startup’s roadmap.

6. Surprise us – stand out from the crowd

If you want to get noticed you need to stand out from the crowd. Don’t be like everybody else that says they’re gonna get all their users through social media with no further explanations. Think of new channels, growth strategies, anything that can be particularly  applied to your startup and business model.

7. Remember to add the video

For the video, it doesn’t matter if it is a phone video. What does matter is that you introduce all of the founders, and show us what you have done so far with the idea, what phase are you now, and where are you heading.

Now that all the tips are here, it’s entirely up to you to get it right. If you are still not sure if you are at the right phase for Lisbon Challenge, than email Isabel Salgueiro (isabel.salgueiro@beta-i.pt) or Nuno Machado Lopes (nuno.lopes@beta-i.pt).

Apply to Lisbon Challenge until this July 15th 2017, and we’ll let you know if you’ve been selected by August 15th 2017.