About the program
By being a WHU founder or having a WHU member in your founding team, you have access to one of the most impressive entrepreneurship communities in the world. Take the leap now and dive into this ecosystem by applying for the WHU Accelerator 2022!
The WHU Accelerator is an equity-free, 7-week, intensive program for WHU students, alumni, and staff designed to provide rocket fuel for your new ventures. The program will kick off with orientation on April 30 with the continuous program starting on May 9 and culminate with Demo Day presentations on June 25. The majority of the program will be virtual with the orientation day and demo day taking place in person.
The following provides a short overview of the program, the application process, and a few Q&As founders may want to ask.
Onward & upward!
The WHU Accelerator Team
- Pre-Program Coaching (March 28-May 8, virtual)
Selected founder teams are required to participate in weekly coaching sessions with experienced WHU community members to prepare for the program and ensure momentum entering the accelerator. This will provide teams with early opportunities to refine their products and business models prior to joining the cohort.
- Program Orientation (April 30, offline in Vallendar)
Founder teams will get to know each other, discuss the program schedule, and learn useful tips to maximize program benefits. A virtual mixer event will allow teams to meet the program mentors before working with them the following week. And founders will participate in video interviews with our media team.
- Phase One: Mentor Mayhem (May 9-20, virtual)
These two weeks are incredibly intense, but arguably the most valuable part of the program. Modeled after Techstars’ Mentor Madness, each day founders will meet with 8 experienced mentors to present their business models for feedback. Mentors are notable entrepreneurs, investors, and technologists from the WHU ecosystem that will provide valuable insights into various aspects of the startups. Upon completion of the mentorship phase, teams will be asked to select a handful mentors as “Leads” who will provide coaching and support throughout the program. In many accelerator programs (including ours), it is not uncommon for mentors to later join startup teams as advisors, investors, or even team members.
- Phase Two: Product-Market Fit (May 23-June 12, virtual)
This three-week phase is designed to support teams in building their business – attracting customers, developing product, building sales pipelines, marketing/branding, etc. There will be multiple workshops each week on topics relevant to the cohort. But teams are also afforded time to work independently on their ventures. Lead mentors play an important role in this phase, offering feedback on progress or decision-making on a regular basis.
- Phase Three: Capitalization (June 13-June 24, virtual)
The final phase of the program is designed to prepare teams for Demo Day. Founders will receive workshops and one-on-one support for developing their pitches, preparing for capitalization, and connecting with the investor network that will be participating in Demo Day. By the end of this phase, teams should have all the pieces in place to take the next step toward their venture’s growth trajectory and embark on their first funding round.
- Demo Day (June 25, offline)
All of the hard work culminates in a pitch at Demo Day. The audience will be a collection of business angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, and guests from the WHU ecosystem and beyond. This will be the founders’ opportunity to show the investment community all they have accomplished during the program and get a headstart on their early-stage funding.
Cohort Demo Day Pitches 2022:
Applications for the WHU Accelerator 2022 was officially closed on March 6, 2022.
Finalists will be notified on March 11 with finalist interviews taking place from March 14-15. Offers will be made shortly thereafter with the official cohort announcement taking place on March 21.
Teams must complete the application form via the link below. They are asked to fill out a number of questions about their startup, team, and as individuals. They are also required to submit a PDF pitch deck, a short video introducing the founders, and a product demo video (if available).
To see the application form, go to https://bit.ly/WHUaccelerator2022
The WHU Accelerator Selection Committee is comprised of WHU Entrepreneurship Center leadership and entrepreneurs from the WHU community. The criteria used to assess applicants consists of the following:
- Team composition
Does the team have the pieces they need to go from idea to MVP and potentially to market? Are there major gaps or redundancies that will impact the benefit they can get from the accelerator?
Has the team made sufficient progress in developing their new venture? Is there a clear idea, value proposition, business model? At what stage is their MVP? Has any customer discovery or research been undertaken? Is this a serious business that has received significant time and effort or just a last-minute application?
Is the business idea well-defined and well-researched? Is it innovative and potentially disruptive at some scale? Can the business model impact thousands or millions of people’s lives? Is it a small business or an investable business model (think TAM/SAM/SOM)?
- Program Fit
Does the business model or idea fit well with the resources available to the WHU Accelerator and its mentor community? Do we think we can effectively add value to this venture? Is the business aligned with WHU’s core values?
Shortlisted teams will be notified on March 11 and asked to participate in a 30-minute video interview with Accelerator staff. These interviews will take place from March 14-15 and will include an additional 5-10 minutes for founder Q&A.
From March to May, accepted teams will be required to participate in coaching sessions prior to program kick-off. These sessions will include Entrepreneurship Center staff and other notable alumni and ecosystem partners. This will ensure teams continue to work on their businesses and maintain momentum prior to the program start.
Frequently asked questions –
To the WHU Accelerator.
At least one founder must be a WHU student, alumnus, or staff. Founders are expected to participate in the entirety of the program.
Although complete teams are preferred, the WHU Accelerator does not exclude solo founders from applying. But it is important to clearly justify why being a solo founder is a strategic decision at this stage of the venture.
The WHU Accelerator is an equity-free program. It does not invest in startups, nor does it take an equity stake. However, we will do our best to get you in front of the right investors who may be interested in investing in your business after the program ends.
No. The program is free for those who are accepted. Sponsors and donors to the WHU Entrepreneurship Center cover the costs of program operations.
Currently, Master in Entrepreneurship students are able to receive internship credit if selected. In addition to program participation, MiE cohort teams are required to write a short 500 word reflection paper about their experience in the accelerator.
In order to maximize benefit of the program, we suggest all team members participate in all activities. However, we do recognize that sometimes team members need to work on different tasks at different times. So absences will be approved by the Accelerator Director on a case-by-case basis. For founders seeking internship credit for participating in the program, there will be less flexibility for recurring absences.
Yes and no. Although we don’t require applicants to have a finished product or market traction, we expect that the product or service has been well-designed with some degree of testing or validation. Prototypes, mockups, or wireframes will be considered. But the more refined the product, the better the chance of admission.
No. You don’t need to be a registered business entity to participate. Furthermore, we will provide workshops and mentorship to support you in making the right decisions for setting up your legal business structure. However, if you intend to raise capital post-program, you will likely need to set up a legal business before closing an investment.