Allia’s lessons from the Impact Accelerator

May 21, 2021

At Allia, we have been working with impact ventures for many years (70+ ventures and over £90 million raised by alumni). Yet we are still iterating on how we can make the Impact Accelerator more and more relevant to founders and the ecosystem as a whole. Impact investing continues to evolve rapidly and stakeholder capitalism is re-shaping how people define success. At the same time, we are pushing ourselves to identify the right tools, resources and connections that we can build in-house or outsource to ensure that the innovators, game changers, and creators who will make this planet a better place are well served.

Our Impact Accelerator is a six-month programme dedicated to helping founders navigate the early stage (pre-seed/seed) challenges of building a scalable venture changing the world for good. From fashion and issues around diversity and inclusion (NuNude) to cycling safely through London’s busy roads (Hindsight), the founders have gone through workshops, coaching, and mentoring in order to fuel their growth – but it doesn’t stop there. With a specific focus on Impact Measurement and what it means to be ‘Tech for Good’ we examined the balance of what is commercial viability and sustainability, how do we build value propositions that align with our core beliefs and appeal to investors, and what do we need to do as founders to create a venture that snowballs into a monumental change in the world.

So, while the ventures we work with are growing, learning and improving, we are too. We won’t stand still, and are constantly assessing, reviewing and learning lessons so that we can provide the best launchpad for these inspiring ventures’ growth and success. Here, we wanted to share some tips that we believe will help you shape your venture, organization and project, whether you are on a programme or not:

1) Take time to reflect
While it sounds like a line out of a meditation app, there really is an incredible amount of learning to be had from your own experiences. One of the biggest takeaways from an accelerator programme tends to be the structure to ask questions and find ways to address your problem. So if you aren’t currently able to participate in a programme, it is critical to build in moments to stop and ask questions such as “Does this align with my core proposition?”, “Does this action/task/project provide compelling evidence to stakeholders to step up their support/investment/engagement etc.?”, or “Why do people like my offering?”. These questions sound simple, but often can unlock key insights.

2) Build to let go
Don’t build practices/processes that you have to directly manage in order to function. Sounds intuitive right? But building with the intention of letting go is easier said than done because often you are in the process of getting something done and you forget that others don’t know what is happening in your mind. If you are the key piece in running a process, scaling will be all the more difficult when the business takes off!

3) Go to market and let it hurt
Be daring, put your offer out there. Let people see your solution and get as many eyeballs on it as possible – but do so intelligently. Set out with an experiment or an outcome in mind that guides your next steps, don’t chuck a product/service into the marketplace and expect it to land or that you will just ‘go from there’. Set out some objectives for your test and if you discover something along the way that you hadn’t intended on addressing, all the better.

4) Getting investment is just the beginning
Unfortunately, just getting investment is not the end of the road. Even if you get a massive grant or investment from a really glamorous partner, this incredible opportunity you have been handed is just that – an opportunity. Yours to make into an impact unicorn or to turn into flaming rubbish bin. Around 60% of Seed funded ventures fail to get to Series A, so it behooves you to not rest on your laurels. Too many founders have burned themselves and their employees by spending lavishly on perks, hopping from one project to the next without taking time to reflect (Tip #1 – Does this align with my core proposition?).

All that aside, it’s really up to you. Even if you were on an accelerator programme, what makes the difference is you. You can get lucky and get quite far, but at the end of the day how you lead, what you care about, and how you let your work represent those values will be the ultimate deciding factor. If you want to be surrounded by people who care and are interested in changing how business is done, give us a shout!

We are both hiring at Allia and recruiting for our next cohort so don’t be a stranger.
The Autumn cohort of Allia’s Impact Accelerator launched in October of last year and has just recently completed its Pitch Day (5 May) in front of Ananda Impact Ventures, Social Tech Trust, Bethnal Green Ventures, Joyance Partners, TwinklHive, and ClearlySo. The next cohort is currently in recruitment and you could be a part of it by applying here – https://futurebusinesscentre.co.uk/impact-accelerator

Full cohort details here from Autumn 2020- https://futurebusinesscentre.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/20-11-Impact-Accelerator-class-profile-Final.pdf

All the best to them as they keep climbing higher!

Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce