Capital-raising ideas: tapping into seed accelerators and alternative sources of funding for startups.

Author:Brown, Carolyn M.
Position:FINANCING
 
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ACCELERATORS SERVE AS INVALUABLE RESOURCES for networking, mentoring, and nurturing entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors, from manufacturing to tech startups. A number of accelerators also give cash to their startups. Seed accelerators are fixed-term, cohort-based programs that include educational components and culminate in a public pitch event or demo day.

One of the more prestigious accelerators is Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator, which is known for having housed the likes of Dropbox and Airbnb. YC is a three-month program that offers its portfolio companies $120,000 in exchange for a 7% equity stake. Other seed accelerators include DreamIt Ventures ($50,000-$100,000 for 5%-8% equity), TechStars ($100,000 convertible note), and 500 Startups ($125,000 for 5% equity).

Last year a new startup accelerator, SMASHD Labs, was launched by talent manager and venture investor Troy Carter. The program invests $50,000 in five startups, specializing in entertainment, tech, and culture, in exchange for a 3% stake. Accepted startups participate in a 10-week curriculum designed to teach founders things such as how to get press, user acquisition strategies, and other skills that all early stage companies need to succeed. Carter notes that most accelerators produce founders that still lack these important skills.

SMASHD Labs doesn't have the brand recognition of programs like YC or 500 Startups, but Carter's connections to celebrities and influencers are valuable assets to startups and early stage companies. He is well known for being Lady Gaga's former manager, in addition to being an early investor in break-out startups such as Uber, Spotify, Dropbox, Warby Parker, and Lyft. He currently serves as founder and CEO of Atom Factory in Los Angeles, where he manages the careers of artists including John Legend and Meghan Trainor.

According to Carter, the inspiration for the program came from working with Disney's Accelerator program, for which he was a mentor. SMA8HD Labs is a means by which he and his company can better mentor young entrepreneurs and startups, as well as invest in early stage tech companies.

THRONE is one such company. In fact, in addition to recently completing 5MA5HD Labs' accelerator, THRONE is a portfolio company of TechStars and DreamIt, with cofounder and CEO Emeka C. Anen (pictured above) having successfully presented at demo days for all three accelerators. Working with investors isn't easy, but Anen has been...

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