Jim Duffy Logo

Tech Accelerators are Killing Entrepreneurship

Startups! Startups! Startups! Everywhere startups… Accelerators! Incubators! Co-working spaces… Everywhere…

But are they actually killing the spirit and ethos of entrepreneurship and ergo entrepreneurs? I am going to be totally bold and staple my colours to the mast right from the start here – and I definitely don’t want to fall out with our good friends at Techstars, for whom I have huge respect. I believe the tech accelerator model is killing entrepreneurship in the wider context.

Why? What are the motivations for starting a tech accelerator? As far as I can see, it is all about profit: punching out VC backed startups from seed to series A to PE or beyond. It’s a cycle based on valuation, and if looked at closely lacks market force input.

Secondly, it is all about tech. There is no doubt about that tech is creating some amazing new insights into how we develop as a species. Maths and physics grads who ostensibly either built rockets or became teachers are now the stars of the new tech frontier. But, with that comes another set of problems… an arrogance and a belief that the world revolves around them. Perpetuated by the tech accelerator model where investors view them as demi-gods that will boost their portfolios and makes them all rich. Well, maybe??

Based on the above, I believe we are heading for trouble… Why? Because tech only represents a small percentage of startup, new venture creation, micro-business and growth. Our countries are built on a whole raft of other business sectors that need to be funded and scaled. Food and drink is huge and one of the top job providers in the world. Products, services, fashion all need to be nurtured.

The tech accelerator model that is being replicated, without some flair I must add, is bad for business and not representative of how entrepreneurship needs to flourish.

So, I ask, what can we all do to improve the offering of the tech accelerator so it nurtures a more holistic approach to start up ecosystems? Otherwise, the cookie cutter that is tech will suffocate others sectors, stagnate and maybe even become – dare I say it – un-entrepreneurial.

The quest for high growth, gazelles and unicorns is a false dawn awaiting, spawned by intellectuals and enterprise organisations. Let’s give everyone, regardless of sector, a chance to become an entrepreneur and have more spaces that cater for a wider audience.