Programming to Close Knowledge, Network, and Capital Gaps
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Although building pipelines and selecting promising entrepreneurs are critical antecedents to a successful accelerator program, most of the work that accelerators do relates to designing and implementing the actual accelerator experience. This experience, which is constrained to unfold within a fixed time window, must identify and close the various knowledge, network, and capital gaps that sit between promising ideas and successful companies. This chapter elaborates this knowledge-networks-capital framework to show how various program choices influence the effects that accelerators have on participating entrepreneurs. By definition, the major design features are determined by the model itself. All accelerators run cohorts of entrepreneurs through fixed-duration programs that emphasize investment readiness. However, they differ in the myriad of smaller programmatic choices that they make. The EDP data show how few of the differences relating to curriculum structure, design, and delivery help distinguish high-NFF programs from their low-NFF counterparts. However, important differences appear when attention shifts to how entrepreneurs spend their time during the program, and how investment is channeled into the more promising ventures.