I’ve been working with startups for years as a self-employed designer, and in my free time have been creating a kid’s educational brand that I’d like to grow. The products are a mix of apps, downloads, and physical items combined with hands-on creative activities, and they also involve characters and stories focused around “maker culture”. Considering this brand isn’t a traditional tech startup, would a tech accelerator still be a viable avenue for growth, or should I consider something more targeted towards children’s brand and I.P growth?
Actually, from your brief description I'd say that you're attacking some areas that are on trend and I'd counsel you to avoid the trap of thinking if it's not a pure software play that it's not of interest to accelerators or investors. You need to play to your strengths:
On the downside, there's more interest these days (especially with IoT) in enterprise B2B or industrial startups than there is in consumer-facing startups.
But that leads back to your core question and you need to find accelerators and investors who focus on these areas. Here are a few (not knowing your location). You'll see that I have a bent toward the Midwest:
If you're early stage (idea stage, pre-revenue) and flexible on location, an accelerator (or incubator) program is a great choice and a nice litmus test of your idea... so I'd say go for it!
Hope this helps,
Where you're a designer working w/startups - I'm a serial tech. entrepreneur supplementing income doing freelance design & marketing for small businesses - so I feel comfortable in answering this. The short answer to your question is - No! Startup accelerators are primarily for B2B or B2C companies in high growth markets typically w/several co-founders targeting serious invetment capital (usually Series A funding). I once had a design client based on the west coast that has a similar companiy, a bit of capital & a small modicum of traction whom introduced me to: IXL.com & Edmodo.com - what you need is strong brand identity & awareness, IP protection, (as you stated), deep contacts either in w/area school districts or teaching organizations & non-profits willing to tout your product & a team of child psychologists backing up your methods. Other things would be great as well such as case studies, video testimonials, a highly engaged FB group for parents/teachers etc.
All in all, I'm assuming you're wanting to join a startup accelerator to pickup business accumen & strategy that you may feel you're lacking. Either way, you can utilize SCORE, Youtube, Udemy or Founders Institute for the basics & then some. A tech. accelerator is moreso going to focus on traditional tech. dev/coding/UX etc. while you need more so UI & rollout strategy that a good business or marketing consultant can aid you in. Hope this helped!
This is a couple of years old, but there's a nice landscape map here. NB: Imagine K12 is now part of Y Combinator.
Dear Mr. Faubion: Each tech accelerator has its own rules for deciding exactly which types of businesses or industries they will accept for their program. So the key is to research the policy of each tech accelerator individually and determine whether they will accept your business and on what financial terms and what time frame.
You should consider applying to Y combinator, which says they will accept ed tech firms and so should be open to your business. Their standard deal is to invest $120,000 USD in exchange for 7% equity in your business. their website is www.ycombinator.com and has the application form available online.
If you find you cannot get into a tech accelerator, then another option to consider is to enter a business incubator. Most regions and many cities have incubators that accept businesses from a wide range of industries including possibly your firm.