For an entrepreneur, launching a business and scaling quickly can be tough. Startup accelerators can help ease the growing pains faced by many startup companies, but the decision to join a program is individual. Mason Levy is the founder of WeGrow, a Canopy accelerator alumni company, and Canopy's Program Director. Want to learn more about launching a business in cannabis? Register for Mason's Top 10 Signs You're Ready To Startup Webinar on Thursday, November 9th at 11am MST.
Like so many moments in an entrepreneur's journey, uncertainty and pressure make the decision to accept an offer from an accelerator a tough one. Combine that with the fact that we’re operating in a federally illegal and ever-changing industry. There are always more questions than answers. Is it the right timing? Is it the right next step?
While there are 10 cannabis entrepreneurs who have to make the decision for themselves, here are five reasons why I said yes!
Networking isn’t just one of those things you do to help build your business. Specifically, in the early-stages of a company, networking is your business. A network ultimately allows you to learn quickly and validate assumptions. But not every network is of equal value to the one standing next to it.
Some people may think it’s ludicrous to try to break into an industry where you have no specific expertise. But lack of experience doesn’t necessarily mean failure as long as you work smart and align with the right resources—and the right people. These are people who have been there and done that.
Find Product/Market Fit
What separates a good entrepreneur from a great entrepreneur is a focus on validated-learning. If you’re not learning something new on a daily basis at these early and vital stages of product development, you’re bound to cost yourself both time and money.
A structured accelerator program provides systems and best practices for experimenting and measuring key performance indicators to help find product/market fit. With the right tools companies can begin eliminating factors of uncertainty through product development.
Get Investor Ready
Something like 75% of venture-backed companies fail. Whether you’re a first time founder or a passionate entrepreneur raising for his/her Nth company, finding smart money is never easy. A huge objective is to be able to not give investors a reason to say “No”. Having the support from business professionals who have been there and done it will help ensure you have all the fundamentals of a fundable business in place. There’s no better way to get battle tested than in an environment that is accepting of mistakes.
Environment & Competition
It is amazing how much you can accomplish in such a short period of time. Accelerators are an intense and fast-paced experience where you are surrounded with other entrepreneurs dealing with similar problems. In this environment, you have the opportunity to learn from and compete with other passionate and talented people. Nothing else bonds founders like an accelerator. You’ll meet friends and business partners that will last a lifetime.Mentorship
Every entrepreneur needs the support of mentors and advisers, who will help you strategize about your company’s growth and keep you from developing tunnel vision about your product. An accelerator matches you with a network of entrepreneurs, executives, and investors who share their experiences, give feedback, and provide guidance that can take your business to the next level.
While an accelerator may not be a good fit for every entrepreneur, it can provide many benefits and advantages to startups looking to move forward within a structured and collaborative environment. Canopy, specifically, offers deep cannabis industry knowledge and an extensive mentor network.
Ultimately, getting value from an accelerator program is the responsibility of the founding team. No one is going to do the work that needs to get done other than you. An accelerator can give you all the tools and resources to be successful, but you must go in with clear objectives and expect to work tirelessly to achieve them.
Canopy is accepting applications for its Spring 2017 program through January 31st. Submit your application now, and launch your cannabis business!