The VFA Accelerator

Equipping Fellow founders with resources to create jobs

Program Overview

When: August – November 2018

Where: Detroit, MI

 

The Accelerator was created to give Fellows the time, space, and support they need to turn their side projects into full-time ventures by the completion of the four-month program. This program supports early-stage companies from any industry through skill workshops, professional mentorship, and goal setting and accountability.

At the end of the program, participants have the chance to showcase their work at a variety of events in Detroit and New York, as well as pitch for funding from the VFA Seed Fund.

Why Fellows Love It

Why Fellows Love It

We know it isn’t easy to turn a side project into a full-time job; Trying to start something while working full-time and without access to capital is nearly impossible. We’ll cover food, housing, and living expenses for our Accelerator teams for four months so they can focus solely on building their fledgling companies. In addition to time and space, we provide programming and workshops to empower teams to understand the basics of founding a business.

Most importantly, our Fellow teams get dedicated entrepreneurs, investors, and experienced builders who are excited to help them along on their founder journeys.

Who Should Apply?

Accelerator teams must have at least one founder who is a VFA Alum. Co-founders who did not complete the VFA Fellowship are welcome to join!

In order to get the most value out of the Accelerator, businesses should have already validated their ideas through prototyping or customer validation, or have made clear and significant progress toward validating a need in the market. Fellows in the idea stage can participate in pre-Accelerator Launch programming to validate their ideas.

Pre-Accelerator Launch Resources

Accelerator teams must commit to working on their company full time, as they will spend the duration of the program living in Detroit and working out of the designated office space.

VFA Alumni

Accelerator teams must have at least one founder who is a VFA Alum. Co-founders who did not complete the VFA Fellowship are welcome to join!

Businesses beyond ideas

In order to get the most value out of the Accelerator, businesses should have already validated their ideas through prototyping or customer validation, or have made clear and significant progress toward validating a need in the market. Fellows in the idea stage can participate in pre-Accelerator Launch programming to validate their ideas.

Pre-Accelerator Launch Resources

Full time founders

Accelerator teams must commit to working on their company full time, as they will spend the duration of the program living in Detroit and working out of the designated office space.

Our Mentors

We know how important good mentorship is – especially for first-time founders – and we are committed to providing world-class support to our Fellow Founders. Guidance from experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts can make or break a fledgling business. The VFA Accelerator brings together seasoned professionals from a diversity of industries and backgrounds to engage with our Founders through workshops, lectures and one-on-one meetings. Whether specific or broad, tactical or experiential, learning is at the center of our programming.

Mentors include:

Dylan Richard, Founder, & CTO, Modest; Director of Engineering, PayPal

Charles Hilliard, Co-Founder & Chief Design Officer, Sift

Kelly LaPierre, Startup Consultant & Founder, Desai Accelerator

Justin McLoughlin, Founder & CEO, AirCFO

Eleni Kelakos, Presentation Trainer & Founder, The Eleni Group

What happens after the Accelerator?

After the four-month program, Accelerator companies have progressed down a multitude of paths including:

 

  • Continuing to pursue the business full time, raising capital from friends/family, angel investors, and VCs, through debt financing, crowdfunding, grants/pitch competitions, and bootstrapping.
  • Participating in other accelerators such as TechStars, Y Combinator, and more!
  • Pivoting focus to find product/market fit or discontinuing business operations when appropriate.

 

While VFA is supportive of the outcomes that make most sense for the founders and the business, our programming and resources are geared towards getting Accelerator teams to a point where they can continue building their companies.

Get Involved

Reach out to caroline.hatfield@ventureforamerica.org to learn more about becoming a mentor, hosting a training, attending Demo Day, and more!

 

Accelerator Companies

Since 2014, VFA has graduated 32 companies from our Accelerator. Here are just a few!

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