Eight tips for successfully interviewing with an accelerator
The Next Health Accelerator (NHA) by Intrepid Entrepreneurs recently completed recruitment for our next cohort of 10 African female/co-led startups innovating in the sexual and reproductive health sector. Applicants apply for Next Health Accelerator by completing an application in French or English and uploading a pitch deck and a 1-minute video from the Founder(s). Upon review by the NHA selection committee, shortlisted applicants are invited for a 30-minute virtual interview that involves a brief introductory presentation by the Founder followed by Q&A from a panel of judges. Based on this experience, we have 8 tips for successfully interviewing with an accelerator:
1- Highlight the eligibility criteria
Our eligibility criteria are stated on the application and on our website. African female/co-led startups with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) innovating in the sexual and reproductive health space as well as self-care solutions are eligible for NHA.” When interviewing, be clear about how your startup matches each element of these criteria. Eligibility is the most basic reason that startups are removed from consideration so ensure that each criterion glows from your startup. Know your audience and deliver accordingly.
2- Include your entire team
The strength of your team is very appealing to accelerators, investors, donors, customers, and anyone else looking to partner with you. A strong team with healthy, equitable relationships where all members speak freely and with a shared vision is pure gold because it can make or break the success of a startup even more than the idea itself. A strong team is refreshing, exciting, and attractive so be sure to showcase it.
3- Lead with your WHY
The most successful entrepreneurs are ones who have a clear sense of purpose. They understand the problem they are trying to solve and they never forget why they care about it. As tempting as it can be to focus only on your solution, instead try to lead with your WHY and stay connected to your problem – both in the interview process and as you move forward.
4- Keep answers concise
Answer each question as succinctly as possible so that we can move on to the next reviewers’ questions. Our review panel is made up of 6 diverse experts. They each are assessing applicants from different angles and want to learn as much as possible about your startup in a finite period. If it takes more than 2 minutes to answer any single question you have likely lost some (or all) of your audience in this specific arena.
5- Know your numbers
What metrics are you tracking and how are you performing on those? How many clients have you treated? Have you signed up an increasing numbers of customers each month for the last three months? Is your income increasing month on month? Do you have repeat customers, how many? Have a clear understanding of your data and the difference between input, output, and outcome metrics so that you can show progress at as many stages as possible.
6- Know your competition
If you don’t know your competition you probably don’t know your sector. It is a huge red flag for the judging panel if you don’t know or deny your competition. Be informed and confident in presenting your competition and always explain what your sustainable competitive advantage is relative to your competition.
7- Have a growth mindset
The number one rule of entrepreneurship is to be in love with the problem you are trying to solve, not your solution. Entrepreneurship is a series of tests: Does my solution solve the problem? Is my target market interested in using my solution? Is the price point too high or too low? Every time you launch a new feature or expand to a new market, you are putting your startup out into the world and you have to be open to receiving feedback that the world is giving back. Stay open enough to absorb these learnings and humble enough to pivot your solution accordingly.
8- Be presentable
Before our world was hyper-virtual, we used to say, “dress for the part you want.” Now “dressing” for the part means ensuring you are on time, you have a good Wi-Fi connection, your camera is on, you are well lit, and you are in a quiet environment so your voice can be heard. These factors indirectly tell the judging panel how seriously you are taking the process which can be reflected in how seriously they think you will take your participation in the Accelerator.
We share these tips to even the playing field amongst those that have had access to more training versus those that have not and to elevate the overall standard of entrepreneurship. We hope you find them useful and can apply them in your next interview. If you would like to reach out to us and let us know your thoughts on our tips or additions to our list, we’d love to hear from you.
Intrepid Entrepreneurs exists to catalyze the power and promise of women and youth to fundamentally advance their societies. You can learn more on our website.
Next Health Accelerator is a revolutionary bilingual, pan-African health accelerator for female and co-led startups innovating in the sexual and reproductive health sector.
Author : Lindsey SIMMONDS
Credit photo: Freepik (www.freepik.com)