For us, the best preparation was actually applying to other larger accelerators. We didn’t get in but it was good practice and helped us hone in on the important parts of our idea. Because we applied to those other programs prior, we were prepped well in advance. We answered the questions in an editable word document, drafting several iterations before sending it in.
Mike Broggie, Mentor
I’m looking for an articulate statement of the problem the founders are solving and at least a cursory understanding of the value being created for their end customer.
Common mistakes: incomplete applications
Red flag: “disrupt” anything. On a really, really good day, you are innovating, not disrupting.
Elliot Roth, Spira
We used a shared google doc so the entire team could give input. We also sent it to previous Lighthouse teams to get feedback. Mostly it was our CEO putting the application together and we submitted the day prior. I wish we had gotten feedback from investors rather than startups.
My co-founder and I got together to fill out the application. We discussed it, exchanged ideas, and also read sample successful accelerator applications that we found online. I don't know that we would change anything due to our successful entrance. Moving forward, however, I would do more modeling to illustrate expansion by geography -- most late stage accelerators tend to want that in your interview. We made it to the last round for the AT&T edtech accelerator (final 10 out of 280 applicants) and that area was lacking for us and I believe it was the reason we didn't make the final cut.
Cody Nystrom, Lighthouse mentor
What I look for in a strong application is the originality of idea, whether it addresses a true pain point with a big market, how the team solves distribution challenges, whether they have already identified team resources, and demonstrate competency in market they are addressing.
Jordan Jez, Glass Smith
We took the application pretty seriously, due to where we were in the process of creating Glass Smith some of the application questions required a good deal of thought, exploration, and research. We sat down went over the questions and worked through each on as a team. Once compiled we passed along what we had to a couple friends familiar with the program and the startup ecosystem here. Taking that feedback we made the changes necessary and submitted. Advice here is to plan ahead, execute, revise, and then submit.
We had a ton of conversations with the Lighthouse team itself and a fair amount of the other mentors and board members before applying. It obviously helped being a part of the community already, but mostly we did our homework to put our best foot forward for the application and interview process. Not to mention, our application was denied the first time we applied. If at first you don't succeed.
Dominic Costanzo, Lighthouse mentor
The most important thing I look for is whether the enterprise is operating in a large (and growing) market with the ability to scale. Traction and team are weighted heavily in my evaluation. Common mistakes are being too informal in the language used in the application. Another mistake is providing too much information. It’s important to remember as an applicant that your application is not the only one being read. It’s easy to lose someone who is reviewing it if it takes too much time to read through, especially after going through dozens prior. Stand out by being concise, to the point, and providing only relevant information.