15 Mar 2016 |
Research article |
Entrepreneurship & Management
Centech Accelerator to Startup your Business!
A business accelerator, but why? According to Statistics Canada, 85% of startups manage to stay in business the first year. However, this survival rate drops to 51% after 5 years (Fischer and Reuber, 2010). The Center of technological entrepreneurship of the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montreal (Centech) has created a 12 weeks coaching program, an accelerator to help you start your business and make sure that in 5 years, you will be part of the 49% who have managed their business startup!
The Accelerator Program
Montreal’s Centech updates its accelerator program to shorten the access time start-up companies in the target market. The 12-week program objective is to route the startup entrepreneurs teams in a client needs validation approach to develop a prototype and a business model that meets the needs identified, commonly called the “Lean Startup” approach.
Image 1 – The incubated company ARA Robotique is developing an industrial-grade autopilot system designed for multi-rotor-type drones. This product can be installed on all types of multi-rotors on the market, and allows users to remotely control their device. Present in this picture from the left, Pascal Chiva-Bernard, president of Ara Robotique, Guillaume-Charland Arcand, aerodynamic control expert and Charles Brunelle, Director of Operations.
The Lean Startup methodology has become the norm for many accelerators and incubators, both private and university-run: the key to success for a technology startup is to validate the needs of the targeted customer. This essential validation data can not be found in the prototype workshop; teams must use a proven scientific method to validate product development hypotheses of their potential customers if they want to increase their chances of success.
Image 2 – The incubated company EcoTuned converts full-size pickups into electric vehicles, reducing greenhouse gases produced by pickups by 9 tons per year.
The approach taken by agile engineering, originally designed for software engineering, now applies to all engineering disciplines: mechanical, electrical, construction, etc. The key for entrepreneurs is to respond quickly to lessons learned from the validation cycle with customers regarding features of the new product. Figure 1 below illustrates the product development process, combining the approaches of lean startup and agile engineering. The company creates modified versions of its preliminary product versions (prototypes) by combining new ideas developed with their customers during the technology validation cycle. With this in mind, a project can be terminated if no clients take an interest in the product, or if the product characteristics do not meet customer requirements.
Figure 1 – Product Development Process
Centech offers training and mentoring in a “Just-in-time” mode to entrepreneurial teams while focusing on product development, marketing and finance. It offers them a collaborative workspace accessible at all times, training and skill exchange group workshops, conferences given by successful entrepreneurs, meetings with external experts and business development web tools, and all of this is free of charge.
The Main Challenges faced by Startups
The main challenges faced by startup teams are showing off their skills, proving that their ideas are relevant while demonstrating to investors that they have developed a scalable and innovative business model. In order to overcome this challenge, Centech has established a process to measure and monitor performance in real-time, together with support in training and presentations to a panel of experienced investors.
Figure 2 – Mechanisms for interacting with coaches, mentors and investors
A dashboard has been designed by Centech so that startup companies and participants (coaches, mentors and investors) can see in real-time the evolution of data for company performance (Figure 3).
Figure 3 – Example of a dashboard for a startup company
Upcoming Accelerator Cohorts
Centech starts three Accelerator cohorts this year, in early fall, winter and summer. Teams who wish to participate in the next Accelerator programs in 2016 must submit their Centech project by the described below:
To subscribe, consult the Centech website.