A few days ago a friend of mine referred an entrepreneur my way. He was debating on whether to join an accelerator or not and asked for my advice on the right time to join an accelerator. His company was just about to launch their product.
As I mentioned in previous times, the biggest value accelerators bring is access to mentors and peers for feedback. That feedback is especially valuable if you have specific issues that hinder your growth and you have data to work with. Most programs are short and unless you enter the program with specific objectives in mind, you’ll find yourself trying to do many things at the same time and not getting anything done by the end of the 3-4 months program. Spending those months developing your product, in my view, is a waste of time: You can do that at home/in a coffee-shop and you’ll probably get it done faster than in an accelerator as you don’t have to spend time going to lectures and meetings.
When Airbnb joined Y-Combinator they launched their product and noticed that while traffic to their website was not an issue, engagement and conversation were. They had a specific problem they were looking to resolve, data to pin point to the problem and customers to engage with. That resulted in Paul Graham suggesting they go to NYC to talk to their customers, which led to their idea to use professional photos to drive engagement.