Last week, TechCrunch's Danny Crichton wrote that "Corporate Accelerators are an Oxymoron." He makes the valid point that corporate accelerators are beholden to corporate objectives and can stifle innovations through misaligned incentives.
But I think a key point of corporate accelerators is that they are beholden to those very objectives. Many startup-corporate partnerships fail to get off the ground in the first place due to misaligned incentives or, more often, the corporate losing interest somewhere between the verbal agreement and the signed contract.
Corporate accelerator admissions, on the other hand, typically involve in-depth deliberations around whether the startup truly aligns to the organization's strategic goals in the first place.
Then, once the startup enters the accelerator, the corporate is contractually obligated at the very least to pay attention to the startups in its accelerator. Moreover, it has a vested interest in seeing each startup's product succeed - especially since "failure" is not such an accepted word in the corporate's world.
Corporates, unlike VCs, are measured on internal "success metrics" rather than financial upside from strategic bets. So while corporates adhere closely to their own objectives, typically they would not bring on a startup unless that company's technology and direction aligned with those objectives in the first place.
Particularly in the enterprise space, corporate mentorship is extraordinarily important to small companies looking to navigate large organizations' infrastructure, politics, and red tape. A corporate accelerator structures an intensely intimate relationship between the startup and corporate that is necessary in these cases.
So yes, corporate accelerators have their issues and startups would be wise to carefully consider a corporate program before accepting a spot. But these programs can be immensely powerful for both the startup and the corporate when everybody is working in the same direction.
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