Accelerator Need To Knows

APPLICATION BASICS


When do applications open and close?

Applications will be open from 15 May until 25 June 2017 at 11:59 pm WAT. Any late applications will not be considered regardless of the circumstances.

Who is eligible to apply?

  • Business with at least one female member on the founding team between the ages of 18 and 35
  • Business that has received less than $50,000 in funding
  • Business that is less than 3 years old
  • Business that has already begun operations and has a live product on the market.
  • Entrepreneurs based in any of these cities and operating in these sectors- Abuja (retail/e-commerce), Lagos Mainland (technology), Lagos Island (creatives) and Kaduna (agribusiness)
  • Entrepreneurs at the idea stage are not eligible to apply

Do I need to be Nigerian to apply?

You do not need to be Nigerian to apply but your business needs to be based in Abuja, Lagos or Kaduna.

Are foundations, nonprofits or NGOs eligible?

The Accelerator program does not support or provide grants to nonprofits, NGOs or foundations. Businesses with a social mission or CSR programs integrated into their businesses are eligible.

Is there a fee to participate?

There is no fee to apply or participate in the Accelerator program. All transport from outside of Lagos and accommodation for the top 4 companies at the Investor Dinner will be covered by She Leads Africa.

Can I apply even if I applied for the SLA Accelerator in 2016?

Previous applicants are eligible to apply but they should integrate any previous feedback received.

If I have two businesses can I apply with both?

We only allow one application per person, so please submit your strongest business.

If my business has two female cofounders should we both apply separately?

Businesses should only apply once regardless of the number of female cofounders.

Can I apply even if my business is not based in these locations?

No. There will be 6 mandatory bi-weekly meetups in these locations and you must be based in the cohort’s location you apply to.

My business is based in Kaduna or Abuja, would I need to travel to Lagos to attend the residency?

No, the SLA team will be in Abuja and Kaduna to host the respective one-week residencies there.

Can I apply if my business does not fall under one of these sectors?

No. You are only eligible to apply if your business fits into the sectors available in the application.

Can I apply even if my business is not registered?

Yes. We realize that most early stage businesses (0-3 years old) are yet to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. However, all companies, registered or not, must demonstrate in their application that they are a good fit for the program.

Can I apply if I will be less than 18 years old by August 2017?

No, only those who have turned 18 are eligible

If I became 36 years old on December 30, 2016, or will become 36 years old in July 2017, am I eligible?

No, only those who are still 35 years old on August 1, 2017, are eligible to apply.

Is my company eligible if I founded it with a man?

Yes, your company is eligible.

Do I have to be a member of the SLA community to apply?

Yes. You can easily be a part of the SLA community by joining here

Must I attend the info sessions to apply?

No, you do do not have to. However, attending an info session will give you an opportunity to receive answers to the questions you might have about the Accelerator program.

How do I know that my application has been received?

Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, only semi-finalists will be notified.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS


Can I submit my application in another language?

At this time we are only able to accept applications in English.

What do I need for my application?

  • Complete the online form
  • Submit a 1-minute pitch video (optional)
  • Submit a pitch deck

How do I submit the online form?

Go to the VC4A website to submit your application, but you must first set up your VC4A profile. Find the how-to guide for doing so here

What should be in the pitch video?

We want to learn more about you and give you a chance to express why your business is unique and interesting. The video does not need to be professional, you can take it on your phone or from your computer.

What is a pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a brief presentation, typically created using PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi, that tells the story of your business is a simple but compelling way.

Does my pitch deck need to be designed by a professional?

Your pitch deck does not need to have a fancy design but it should be easy to understand. Use graphs and visuals to share your story and avoid heavy text.

How long should my pitch deck be?

Your pitch deck should not be longer than 10-15 slides

What exactly should be in a pitch deck?

  • Your vision: What do you do? How do you do it? Why do you do it?
  • The problem: Tell a personal story that defines the problem that your product solves. What does your product do? Why does the market care?
  • The solution: Discuss why your product is the solution and what sets it apart from anything else in the marketplace.
  • Your track record: Share growth statistics, including notable client wins, milestones met to date and total number of customers.
  • Your business model: Detail how you plan to make money. Keep it simple and be specific.
  • The growth plan: Show how you plan to grow by leaps and bounds and how you will position your product for market dominance. Use sales and growth data (real and projected) to show why your startup is like a coiled spring ready to pop.
  • Your team: Talk about your top-notch team and why they’re uniquely positioned to address the problem your product solves while building a large, disruptive business.
  • Your investment needs: Expound on what you need in detail. How much money do you want to raise? How exactly will you use it? If you’ve already raised some capital or have notable investors and advisors, explain who invested, what they invested (money, time, advice), why they got on board, and how you’re using their money (or expertise).

Where can I find sample pitch decks?

Where can I find help in putting my pitch deck together?

We’ll be hosting in-person information sessions in Lagos and Abuja. Make sure you’re signed up to our community so you’re notified about these sessions.

However here are a couple of SLA resources you should definitely use

  1.     Download our guide on how to make a pitch deck that brings in the cash
  2.     Check out our video on YouTube on our application pet peeves
  3.     Check out some articles we have on SheLeadsAfrica.org that cover pitching such as Four things you must have to be pitch perfect

How do I submit my pitch deck?

Pitch decks must be uploaded to your VC4A profile in order for your application to be complete. Do not send it via email to She Leads Africa. Find out how to do so here

Will I be able to change my application once it has been submitted?

Once an application is submitted it is final and we will not be able to facilitate any changes to the application.

What do I do if the application system is not working?

Please refresh the page or try a new browser. If this does not work, send a message to VC4A on Twitter or Facebook to request for help. It is, however, advisable to apply at least a week before the deadline, so that you do not have to deal with latency or technical issues.

How is the SLA Accelerator program structured?

  • The 2017 Accelerator program will run over a three-month period from September to November. It will roll out through one-week residencies in each of the cohort locations.
  • The residencies will be followed by 6 bi-weekly meetups that will take place in each location and during this period, the finalists will also receive online coaching and mentoring.
  • The Accelerator will end with an Investor Dinner in November where the top 5 entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to investors.

SECTORS


Why is the SLA Accelerator having sector-specific cohorts in 2017?

The 2017 SLA Accelerator is focusing on agribusiness, retail/e-commerce, creatives and technology for the Kaduna, Abuja, Lagos Mainland and Lagos Island cohorts respectively. This is designed to make sure that the companies are accepted into each cohort are given access to top quality resources, training and mentorship.

These training sessions will be delivered by business leaders who operate in these sectors.

FINALIST SELECTION


When will applicants find out if they’ve been selected as a semi-finalist?

All applicants will be notified of their status in the middle of July.

Will applicants receive personal feedback about their application?

Unfortunately, due to the number of applications we receive, we will not be able to provide personalised feedback on your application.

How are the semi-finalists and finalists selected?

Our review committee will be evaluating applications against several critical factors:

  1. Proof of Concept
  • Clear problem, which the candidate is hoping to solve
  • Well-defined solution
  • Pathway to monetizing the proposed solution
  1. Understanding of Competitive Landscape
  • Candidates should be able to describe competitive landscape comprehensively
  • Candidates should be able to identify risks and propose mitigants for risks identified
  1. Management Team
  • Assessment of personnel capabilities
  • Strengths of the team align with startup needs
  1. Financials
  • Clear understanding of how this business will make money and the key value drivers
  • Specific investment ask and a plan for how they will utilise the funds
  • Reasonable investment ask for their stage of business
  1. Customer
  • Clear understanding of their customer demand
  • Clear identification of their sales pipeline

RESIDENCIES


When and where will the residencies be?

The residencies will take place in Lagos, Kaduna and Abuja. Details on the dates of each location’s residency will be sent to you if you are accepted into the program.

Am I allowed to miss parts of the residency?

The residencies are mandatory for every company in the program

 How will the residencies be structured?

The typical structure of a residency is as follows:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Morning Teaching Session Private Work Teaching Session Private Work
Afternoon Private work/ 1 on ­1 office hours Private work/ 1 on ­1 office hours Private work/ 1 on ­1 office hours Private work/ 1­ on 1 office hours
Evening Speaker Series Speaker Series/Goal setting for the next month

THE MEETUPS


The meetups will take place a bi-weekly basis and more details will be shared as soon as you are accepted into the program. The meetups will focus on mentorship, peer-learning and feedback, and then follow-ups on each company’s progress.

THE INVESTOR DINNER


Why is the 2017 SLA Accelerator closing out with an Investor Dinner and not a traditional Demo Day?

An investor dinner will enable the startups in the SLA Accelerator to have more time to interact and network with investors.

PRIZES


Is the N 2,000,000 prize a grant or investment?

The N2,000,000 awarded to the winner will be a grant and will be made in Naira. This is the monetary support the winner will receive from SLA.

What are the other benefits of being accepted into the SLA Accelerator?

Acceptance into the SLA Accelerator will provide you with access to support from She Leads Africa.

This support will include

  • Media promotions – we are often contacted by local and international media who are looking to interview female entrepreneurs. You’ll always be put forward first.
  • Promotion through SLA’s online community.
  • Access to SLA’s network of supporters, influencers and advisors.

2016 SLA ACCELERATOR


What was the experience like for the participants in 2016?

  • The startups highlighted the sessions on learning how to pitch to investors and the practical exercises on finance and team management, customer acquisition, marketing and distinctive branding as some of their best parts of the program.
  • Participants were able to network with several local and international investors including Michael Siebel,the CEO of Y Combinator (a Silicon Valley-based Accelerator)
  • In the words of DeliveryBros’ cofounder, Adaora Nweje- ‘’I can’t begin to measure the growth the accelerator program has brought to our business. It has helped to rebrand our company focus, name, logo, purpose. We have been able to meet people that would have taken us years to get across to. The program as well exposed us to investment opportunities and relationships.’’
  • Overall, 86% of participants gave the accelerator a 4/5 rating. Fresh Direct’s founder and 2016 class winner, Angel Adelaja, said “This was like a condensed Masters Program. I am so different now and our company is thinking and strategizing differently.’’

Please find the video on the 2016 Accelerator Demo Day here

Where should I send my questions?

If your questions have not been answered in this document, please email blessing@sheleadsafrica.org with the subject line “SLA Accelerator Question”.