Accelerators are a quintessential part of the startup journey. They provide mentorship opportunities, access to investors, and additional support for businesses still working to become self-sufficient. For founders who are juggling the endless demands and responsibilities of business management, accelerators can be a beacon of order in an otherwise hectic environment. Not all accelerators are made the same, with each bringing their own connections, priorities, and expertise - and there are certainly a few which lead the pack. Plug and Play is one such leader, and Trip Ninja was lucky enough to have been invited to join their accelerator in early 2020.
We thoroughly enjoyed our experience as a member of the Plug and Play Travel and Hospitality cohort, and we learned so much along the way. Here are our top 3 takeaways after completing our experience:
It’s not what you know - it’s who you know: one of the intangible but incredibly important aspects of this accelerator is access to Plug and Play’s industry contacts. Startups live and die off of connections, so leveraging the expertise of a seasoned and fully developed professional opens doors that might otherwise stay closed.
Hindsight is 2020: the whole point of startups is to explore new territories and hopefully bring something novel and valuable back to their respective industries. However, it is too easy to bring this exploratory mentality to well-trodden ground and lose focus on what matters. The mentors at Plug and Play have been down this road many times and have the perspective of time and experience. Leveraging this experience, they provided valuable feedback on our strategy and operational decisions to help us avoid common pitfalls in going to market.
Avoid solutionism: with technology comes a great deal of flexibility and the conventional wisdom is to focus on applying it to solve one problem at a time. However, this maxim creates the danger of finding just a little bit of product-market fit and getting stuck in a niche market. Interactions with Plug and Play mentors helped us challenge our assumptions and find a balance between pursuing the first viable market and trying to be everything to everyone. All of this was supported by the real industry and business experience of these mentors and was truly indispensable.
Having successfully completed the Plug and Play program and graduated to being an alumni company, we can say from experience that Plug and Play is well worth the time and effort of applying. We came out of the program stronger as a company and built genuine relationships within the Plug and Play network.