For startups navigating the investment landscape, finding the right support and connections can be a game-changer. Enter Hotbed, the virtual accelerator redefining the startup landscape by fostering inclusivity, empowering founders, and building a thriving community.
Since its launch in May ’22, Hotbed has been a guiding light for over 400 pre-seed and seed stage startups, providing them with invaluable resources, mentorship, and connections to fuel their growth. In the next in our Inside the Accelerator series we speak to co-founders Perdie Alder and Margaret Anne Coyle, as they share the core principles of Hotbed, its focus on breaking down barriers, driving diversity and inclusion, tailoring programmes and the power of community. Could they be your new BFF?
Tell us about your accelerator?
Hotbed is the place where ambitious startups go to grow. We’re a virtual accelerator for founders worldwide. Since our launch (May ‘22), we’ve supported 400+ fundraising pre-seed and seed stage startups via three programmes. We also host events throughout the year, like Founders Camp, a free, one day mini summit which has featured speakers like Chris Sheldrick (Founder, What3Words), Nic Cary (Founder, Blockchain.com), and Rachel Carrell, (Founder, Koru Kids).
Our programmes provide 6-10 weeks of support for pre-seed and seed stage founders as they prepare for and progress through their funding round. By the end of the programme, founders have learned first hand from 20 or so “been there, done that” founders, targeted investors, and industry experts. Founders are then encouraged to spend time outside workshops speaking to their target users, so they can focus on building towards product-market fit.
To keep founders accountable, they identify a North Star Metric (i.e. revenue, daily active users, or acquisition) to focus on throughout the programme, and they report on the growth weekly. The startups that demonstrate the most growth then go on to pitch at our Demo Day and Investor Intro events.
What is the selection process for startups joining the program?
Our ethos is that access to community, content and connections should be for everyone, regardless of their background or where they live. Our cohorts are large (75 startups and up), and as long as startups hit a minimum criteria, they can access the programme. Throughout the 6-10 weeks founders are in cohorts, we take weekly growth updates from them, and the founders that demonstrate the most growth are then selected to attend our final Demo Day and Investor Intro events.
What is the duration of the program?
We run programmes every quarter that run from 6-10 weeks. Although all programmes are focused on fundraising founders, each cohort has a slightly different focus, depending on the feedback we get from founders, or challenge areas we see in the ecosystem. We’ve run programmes for women-led startups, seed stage startups, and beta testing startups. Our current programme is for fundraising SaaS startups.
What is the structure of the program and what do you provide in terms of resources and support for startups?
We design programmes to be ‘low intensity, high reward’. We understand that founders need to spend time building their businesses, so our content is delivered virtually, over 3 hours a week, by the people founders want access to; ‘been there, done that’ scaleup leaders, investors, and experts.
Alongside the content, the three highlights we always get from founders are:
1 – The daily OKR discipline
2 – The quality and transparency of our speakers
3 – The community within the cohort
Founders often don’t know what ‘good’ looks like or what they’re being benchmarked against when they’re pitching to investors. Part of what we do at Hotbed is help founders understand more about the ecosystem they’re operating in, so they know where to position themselves to have the strongest chance of success. We do this by interviewing successful founders, investors and domain experts about the importance of growth metrics, what to measure, and best practice for achieving growth targets.
As we continue running programmes, we’re going to focus even more on making our benchmark growth data available to cohort members to keep them on track.
We often hear from founders that they join the programme for the content and access to investors, then stay for the community. Founders in our cohort are incredibly supportive of each other, and we’ve seen many startups use each other’s services, offer introductions to their personal networks and go above and beyond when a founder asks for help. We love this unique part of Hotbed, and it’s really a testament to the types of people who join our community.
What is the equity model for the accelerator program?
At Hotbed, all programmes are free to founders. We’re making plans to be able to financially support startups in our community and as such we ask all cohort members to sign a Warrant that gives us the option to invest up to £100k in their startup in the future with a 10% discount. If we don’t invest, we don’t take any equity.
Despite progress in recent years, women-led startups face challenges accessing funding. How crucial a role do accelerators play in supporting and promoting diversity and Inclusivity in the startup ecosystem?
Underrepresented founders, and women in particular have a propensity for under-selling themselves, which historically has translated to them raising less money, or setting lower valuations. Accelerator programmes like Hotbed gives these founders access to data and support from fellow founders so they can be more confident in where their strengths are, and how they’re positioned against peers.
Sometimes it’s as simple as knowing how much the average fundraise is for a particular industry or business model. It could be understanding what a typical valuation looks like for a business like theirs. It also comes down to what ‘good’ growth looks like. If founders understand what growth metrics investors are seeing across pitch decks, they know what they need to work on and when’s right for them to approach investors confident about their business, their numbers and their growth.
Startups should join my accelerator because…
Hotbed is run by founders, for founders. We’re a grassroots accelerator, and are passionate about supporting startups and creating an ecosystem that we want to see in the future. One that is equitable and supports ambitious and talented founders to grow, even if the odds seem stacked against them due to their background, network, or location. We’re also founders ourselves, with over 7 years of experience in the ecosystem. We know what you need to know and the people you need to know. Plus, our alumni love what we do.
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