Not your Conventional Accelerator
Having spent years observing and working with startups and accelerator programs, we pride ourselves on being innovative in our approach. Three key areas that really make us stand out:
- Hybrid On-site/Remote: It's hard enough to build a startup, nonetheless uproot your entire life for four months. Our hybrid program is designed to support established companies who might deem themselves beyond the accelerator stage because they already have an existing team, office, funding, etc. It also allows us to better support founders who have families or other life commitments that might not be able to commit to being gone for that long. Accelerators from Techstars to Y-Combinator are experimenting with remote models and seeing good results. We believe that you cannot supplement the value of face to face interactions and relationships, so our goal is to take the best of the 100% on-site models as well as the remote programs for TVA.
- Flexible Funding: The traditional convertible note structure doesn't work for some companies. In 2018 we will be offering two deal terms to our companies. A very founder friendly, convertible note with no maturity dates, no arduous reporting requirements, no board seats, etc. The second we are borrowing from our friends at Indie.vc. It is structured to support more mid-growth potential companies that don't want to be forced to constantly chase an exit.
- Focus on Leadership & Quality of Life: Building a company is one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life, but it is also one of the most rewarding. Beyond the business itself, we realize that a lot of the work we do is helping individual founders learn how to be amazing leaders in all aspects of their life. Our investment is truly in each founder and the life journey that they are on. Of course, you can't overlook the obvious advantage that being in a place like Telluride has to helping ensure this is top of mind every day!
September 25th, 2017: Applications Open
December 1st, 2017: Applications Close
December 15th, 2017: Top ~12 selected
January 1st: 2018: Final cohort announced publicly
March 7th -29th: Onsite #1 - Teams in Telluride
March 30th - June 13th: Remote Program (with a visit to Boulder Startup Week during this time)
June 13th - July 5th: Onsite #2 - Teams in Telluride & Demo Day on July 2nd
WHo we work with
After five years, we've learned that our mentor network and local expertise can provide an incredible amount of value to companies that fit the descriptions below:
Team: At least two full-time team members are required to be present. Most teams are five to six people. More diverse teams are given priority consideration. Why? Because the data proves they are more effective.
Scale: Either strong initial customer traction and/or established revenue up to $2M/yr. This program is not designed to help founders create MVPs or explore early-stage ideas.
Industry: Because our mentor community has such a diverse background, we work with companies from Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain to Outdoor product companies to Natural Foods and everything in between. We'll only accept you if we know we have connections in your industry that are likely to give you some sort of unfair advantage.
Areas of Help: Personal leadership & communication, refining revenue models, cost structures, nailing marketing and branding strategies and execution models, sales, building and growing a team, establishing a solid back-office and infrastructure, creating advisory and formal boards, and preparing for investment.
Demographics: We've accepted teams from around the world including Pakistan, Estonia, Poland, Canada, across the US, and of course in our own back yard. We have a strong focus on having a diverse cohort as well as diverse teams in all regards (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.).
We've assembled a world class group of mentors. One of the greatest assets of Telluride is the amazing volume and diversity of incredibly accomplished people who call this place home or spend as much time here as possible. We run a two step process to match you with the mentors that are best for you: first we ensure you meet with the mentors who have the most experience relevant to your needs and second: we establish clear expectations around three possible commitment levels to ensure both parties have a successful relationship. Our goal is to help create relationships that go beyond just this venture and help unlock the amazing power of the global network through this group.
Upon acceptance, each team is given the choice of $30k for 5% equity OR debt in the form of a loan. Both are instruments to help you meet your goals and prepare you for growth and possible further investment from our network and beyond.
Too many of today's programs are built on high-growth, moneyball strategies that force companies into relentless growth in the pursuit of massive returns for the investors. The high growth route is great for some companies, but we believe in supporting entrepreneurs whether they are aiming to disrupt massive industries OR the entrepreneurs looking to build meaningful and moderately sized companies without giving up all of their ownership to investors. There are pros and cons to both, and we're happy to work through the choices with you. Our intent is to provide more flexible options to entrepreneurs based on their business models and end goals.
- Convertible Note: Standard terms are $30k for 5% equity in the form of a convertible equity note. Similar to industry standards but we make it even more friendly be removing maturity dates. For companies with higher growth ambitions, this is the standard structure.
- Indie.vc Terms: See their term sheet here. It essentially provides an alternative way for founders to pay off investors through cash distributions over time vs. a one-time return. This help alleviate the pressure for startups to raise multiple rounds of funding and commit to the "growth at all costs" mentality that venture investors are infamous for encouraging.
Ask locals around Telluride why they moved here and it's almost unanimously "the community." This is truly a special place full of amazing people. Our remoteness can be challenging but it has created one of the most authentic mountain town communities you'll ever find. Throughout the program, we help integrate you with the local business owners and community leaders. When you move to Telluride as an entrepreneur, you're not just building a business, you're contributing to the future of the community, and everyone here can tell you that for every ounce you put into it, you'll receive exponential rewards in return. There may not be a better place to have this quality of life AND have ambitious, meaningful, and stimulating work.
Beyond the local community, one of the greatest values of any accelerator program is the peer group. Being around other passionate and dedicated founders tackling many of the same issues is not only helpful on the hard days, but it can truly accelerate your growth as an entrepreneur. We can almost guarantee that you will forge life long friendships.
After TVA: While we don't require or expect all companies to set up permeant operations in Telluride, we have seen one to three companies every year choose to call Telluride home longer term. Those that leave provide valuable networks and connection to the rest of the startup world and those that stay contribute to our local economy and core mission.
This isn't school, and you won't have homework. We know that you still have a business to build while going through the program. The program's curriculum will ensure that we evaluate all key aspects of your business and give you access to some top experts from across the nation in very specific areas.
On-site Programming: The first on-site will be an intense deep dive into leadership, further defining customer segments, value propositions, pricing models, branding and sales strategies. We will have accomplished entrepreneurs leading sessions around most topics and the TVA team will be providing frameworks to support the creation of actual work product. We will also have a myriad of mentor and community events. Expect these weeks to be intense but rewarding.
Remote Programming: Building off of the foundation from the first three weeks, we will have two main commitments each week - one to continued content, audits, and execution models and the second to connecting with mentors. Of course, we'll have regular reporting and mock board meetings to ensure we're helping teams hold themselves accountable and get the help they truly need. We will be tailor fitting most of the content and mentor connections to each companies specific projects and goals at the time.
Here are some of our key principles around the curriculum to ensure we deliver the most value to each company:
- It's not all about Demo Day: Some accelerators spend 1/3 of their program essentially preparing for demo day. We have proven that we can get you ready in about 3 weeks, leaving way more time for us to be hands on actually working on your business.
Clear time commitments: You'll have about 15 hours/week of time commitments during the two on-site portions of the program, and during the remote program, you will have around 2-5 hours per week. We're not saying it's going to be easy, but the point: you can still run your business and your life vs. putting everything on hold.
We won't bore you with lecture after lecture: You can read books or watch TEDx and Y-Combinator Startup School videos on your own time. We bring in some big names and no matter how big they are, we limit their speaking time to 30 minutes followed by required 1:1 time with you, the founders. We have shown that everyone gets more value this way.
- Just In Time Information: We might revisit content or run custom for specific teams at any given time as it is relevant to their businesses. That means founders and inform how a portion of the schedule evolves throughout the program.