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

July 10, 2017

This article was originally published on the Lisbon Challenge Blog

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? How can you convince Lisbon Challenge to give you 10K to build your product in 10 weeks? 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.lis

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, why the team is motivated to solve that particular problem, and what skills and expertise do they have to execute the idea better than any other team. 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: tech 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 and are dedicated to do what it takes to build a product that the market really needs. 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 products based on recent problem-solution validation. We like startups that understand the need for continuous validation and are always looking at analytics to draw conclusions 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 an 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. It’s ok if you don’t have all of the answers today, what’s important is that you are able to outline the problem, who suffers from it, and how measurable is the problem. The solution can be your vision to solve the problem, and you should be able to “sell” us your vision and demonstrate clearly what is your roadmap to achieve this vision. If you already have a specific product for the solution, then explain to us how you aim to validate the product, and that it has a fit with your target customer segment.

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. Think about why you want to apply to LC and get the initial funding. Tell us where you want to go after, and why LC is important for you to reach that milestone. What do you aim to achieve during LC and what will be your main focus during the program? Be honest with us and let us know about your expectations.

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, then email Isabel Salgueiro (isabel.salgueiro@beta-i.pt) or Gualberto Pastor (Gualberto.pastor@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 to the Bootcamp.