The model of Accelerator Program was born in 2005 with the launch of YCombinator in the US, followed by Techstars in 2006. Its origins lie with early incubator models, however, they have a completely different business model and use a lean startup approach. Seedcamp was the first accelerator founded in Europe, in 2007, by a group of 30 entrepreneurs. Many others were created the following years, including Tetuan Valley (2009), Startupbootcamp (2010), Le Camping (2011), all with similar, yet different structures and business models.
The number of European accelerators and incubators has increased dramatically since the start of the financial crisis. Between 2007 and 2013, the number has risen nearly 400%. This surge in the number of accelerators is mainly due to advances in digital technology, which importantly decreased costs of starting a business. As more and more startups were created each year, to develop effective ways of incubating and to give support to them became more relevant than ever. At the same time, the decrease in startup costs has created the opportunity to invest much smaller amounts of money than previously. The accelerator and incubator landscape in Europe is diverse, with different geographical models running on different principles. In the United Kingdom and France, most accelerators and incubators are concentrated around the national capital while in other countries (i.e. Spain and Sweden), the business startup programmes tend to be spread more evenly throughout the territory.
Only 1.28% of Startups in Europe in 2015 has an exit. Based on the Techstars Report of 2014, 33% of startups four years after the program failed. However the industry reports about 40% the number of startups failed.
But after some research we found that Accelerator Programme managers and funders lack focus on developing soft skills. Soft Skills (of Founders) are key to StartUp Success. Founders need to win outstanding talent, create team motivation, cohesion, etc. Based on a HENKÔ research with mentors of accelerators, 96% agreed that soft skills are crucial for the success of startups. A Wall Street Journal survey found that 92% of 900 executives valued soft skills equally or more than technical skills. And 89% said they have very or somewhat difficult time finding people with these traits, no matter the level or age group.
Soft skills are the source of a huge amount of power that is always right there hiding in plain sight—a tremendous reservoir of often untapped value—a secret weapon for any smart organisation, team, leader, or individual performer.
After our previous experiences and success in improving personal and leadership skills, now we want to measure objectively the impact of HENKÔ program on startup performance and success and, in this way, the impact of accelerators results. In this way, our innovative monitoring approach will allow to measure improvements in aggregated Accelerators metrics and performance.