Entrepreneurs, Ecosystems, and Accelerators
To understand the work that accelerators are asked to do around the world, it is first necessary to understand the interplay between entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystems. When navigating the paths from promising ideas to successful companies, entrepreneurs rely on a host of individuals, organizations, and institutions to close various knowledge, network, and capital gaps. For certain entrepreneurs developing certain business ideas in certain places, the breadth and depth of the local ecosystems allow this to happen; not with absolute certainty, but with sufficient regularity to ensure a steady stream of new high-growth companies. Just think about the many white male entrepreneurs starting technology companies in Silicon Valley. For other entrepreneurs, like the founders of Togo’s first cashew processor or an Indian off-grid energy provider, these local ecosystems are much less robust. Therefore, a host of accelerators are setting up to target underserved and underestimated entrepreneurs who start impact-oriented ventures in these entrepreneurial dead spaces. We round out this chapter by using survey data collected by GALI researchers to explore this impressive global growth of accelerators. This sets the stage and provides context for the many observations that are presented throughout this book.